When Giovanni Lauretta was growing up in his native Italy, he never cared for the coffee his family and neighbours had brewing throughout the day. In fact, it wasn’t until he was age 27 and living in England that his passion for the other black gold set in.
“I never liked the taste,” he shrugged, while speaking to The Pear Tree in his six-month-old coffee shop, giObean Espresso. “Now, I drink espresso five or six times a day. It’s fantastic.”
That new found pleasure led Giovanni down a caffeinated path into the innermost chambers of the coffee world.
The last 10 of Giovanni’s 15 years in the coffee industry were spent at Douwe Egberts, a company within the Sara Lee Corporation. One of only three coffee trainers in the UK accredited by the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe, he was also one of the judges for the UK Barista Championships and one of 30 coffee specialists/tasters in the world working with Douwe Egberts. He’s also taught barista master classes at colleges in the UK.
Giovanni’s interest in the process has taken him from a well-brewed cuppa to coffee plantations in Brazil, in search of valuable insight into coffee production.
The Lauretta family – Gio and his wife, Lucy, and their two children, Max and Claudia – first visited Kelowna in 2002, on holiday. They quickly fell in love with the area and people, and dreamed of immigrating.
Six years later, an opportunity opened up – thanks, largely, to Giovanni’s love for and experience with coffee. At the Emigrates show in London, in March 2008, they met B.C. Immigration officer Michael Chew, who suggested they open a coffee house under the Provincial Nominee Program.
Long interested in opening his own shop, Giovanni seized the chance. Last spring, giObean opened its doors, in a storefront connected to the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort on Water Street.
The Italian-style coffee shop offers a panoply of brewed and espresso coffees – including Giovanni’s own espresso blend. His coffees are organic and Fair Trade.
Giovanni calls the foam that froths up in the making of espresso (above, right) “the Guinness effect.” Guinness beer is famous for its dark, malty colour and thick, white head.
The Pear Tree is thrilled to have giObean as a coffee sponsor at Bloggin’ Okanagan, this Sunday from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Kelowna Art Gallery. Those who haven’t encountered Gio’s rich, classic tasting coffee will be introduced to it then. For everyone else, the shop is open daily from 7 a.m.
– Words and photos by Lori-Anne Poirier