– Can you please introduce yourself in a few words.
I am Nicolas Castagno, 35 years old. Born in Argentina, Italian citizen with a life connection to Sweden. I am a Sociologist with Master in Sustainable Enterprising.
– What’s your story in the coffee industry?
I bought an espresso machine as a present for a girlfriend and from there started learning to make perfect cappucinos at home. Suddenly working in a bar appeared to be an excellent idea to learn Swedish and I got a job at one of the best coffeebars at the moment in Stockholm, Espressino. From there I’ve been visiting and volunteering at different National and World competitions. In 2013 I decided to compete in Swedish Brewers Cup and I won the pleasure of representing Sweden in the 2013 World Brewers Cup in Melbourne. That same year I decided to join my best friend Rikard Andersson and his partner Dominka Budny in the Scandinavian Embassy project.
– When did Scandinavian Embassy open and what is the story behind?
It’s a very long story with many legs that goes back to 1997 and the life story of three individuals. We opened in October 2013 after conceptualizing, financing and building all on our own.
– What’s your specialty and what makes you different?
In terms of concept I think what differentiate us is not being afraid of taking the risk to mix coffee as an ingredient and beverage with food.
– What was your first coffee experience?
Making nescafe to my mom after her siesta.
– What was your best coffee experience?
Probably competing in Sweden and later traveling to Australia to represent Sweden in the World Brewers Cup.
– Do you prepare coffee at home ? If yes, what method do you use?
Of course! I tend to use a Clever filter or a V60 filter.
– How do you like your coffee? Black, sugar and milk, iced, vietnamese style,…?
I like « black » -it’s rather more brown-redish than black- like « filter coffee ». I also like espresso and from time to time espresso with some steamed milk in a 180ml cup.
– How would you qualify yourself as coffee drinker (occasional, heavy, addict…)?
What a funny question! I tend to use coffee to wake up in the mornings and also to focus when I do more « intellectual » work. So probably I am an addict? I’ m also a « professional coffee drinker », tasting almost every pour-over the leaves my hands to a customer at the bar and dialing in the espresso we brew.
– Have you always been into the coffee industry? If not, what was your previous job?
No. I’ve been slightly involved in Sociology and academic research before coffee.
– Do you have another passion or a hobby besides coffee?
Yes… I enjoy very much reading social sciences or philosophy. Lately I’ve been reading mostly works from Jacques Derrida, Felix Guattari, Jacques Ranciere and Guy Deboard, interested in their approach to spectacle, arts and social change. I also work when I have the time (its being somewhat stopped after Scandinavian Embassy started) with an art project called Spore Project. I love watching basketball and I shoot the ball form time to time.
– What other place would you recommend, anywhere in the world (coffee or not)?
mmm its a hard question with so many options out there! But I would recommend a dinner at Mana Mana in Amsterdam (de Pijp) after lunch at Scandinavian Embassy and spending the day in de Pijp.
– What is/are your favorite website(s) to get information about coffee?
Usually go to Sprudge.com and nowdays Barista Hustle.com has great barista focused materia.l
– What would you say to people who don’t know much about coffee?
Coffee is a fruit and has over 800 aroma compounds. Each coffee has different tasting characteristics depending on variety, growing environment and process. The roasting and brewing of the coffee are the last steps that tries to bring those aromas out.