10 Minutes With Niki di Landa

We chat with Niki Di Landa, Italy’s current Ibrik/Cezve champion, about what inspired her to compete, and the message she wants to spread through her world stage performance.

BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Cover photo courtesy of Niki di Landa

Niki di Landa (she/her) was born in Bologna, Italy, but has spent most of her life living and growing up in Northern Greece. It’s this dual identity that she says has helped shape her as a person and as a coffee professional. 

For a while, she worked in advertising in Milan, but soon started to feel like something was missing in her life. She realized that she needed to do something that really allowed her to use her creativity—something that was more fulfilling. 

So, she took a risk and decided to start working in the hospitality industry again, which is where her passion truly lies. And it’s a good thing she did, because she’s now Italy’s current Ibrik/Cezve champion, about to represent the country at the world stage in Milan this June.

Niki is ethnically Italian but culturally Greek. Photo by Luca Rinaldi.

Vasileia Fanarioti: What inspired you to compete?

Niki di Landa: Actually it was all by chance and for fun. My Italian coach and friend Simone Cattani (former Italian ibrik champion) was competing, and I was making fun of him that I could do better than him as I grew up with ibrik due to my Greek roots. 

So, when he decided not to compete in 2020, I told him and Davide Cobelli, mentor and owner of Coffee Training Academy in Verona, that I will be the next Italian champion. We decided to enter the competition and prepared the routine in two months. 

Why did you choose the Ibrik/Cezve Championship?

I was inspired by my roots. I wanted to highlight the beauty of this brewing method—the most ancient one—that survived through the centuries. My mum is Greek and I’ve grown up in the north of Greece. 

There, ibrik is a tradition, and I saw my grandma brewing so many cups for our guests at home that for me it was rather natural to feel (like it was) something I already knew, something familiar. Beyond that, competing was and still is a way to get out of my comfort zone. Having a personal and professional goal like winning pushes me every day to be better.

Could you tell us a bit about your team and the coffee you are going to present?

Team, or family I rather say, is once again the Coffee Training Academy in Verona, supervised by Davide Cobelli and Simone Cattani. We support each other, even now being distant with me living in Athens. Simone took part several times as a competitor in Ibrik/Cezve, and Davide this year will compete as a roaster. They support me fully, with spaces, equipment, and most of all with tips about attitude and how to manage stress and the stage performance. We can’t wait to have fun together!

Niki found herself competing in the Ibrik/Cezve championship after a lighthearted joke with friend Simone Cattani that she would be the next Italian champion, which became a reality.

Could we get a sneak peek into your day-to-day routine leading up to the competition?

Sure, I train every day now for about two to three hours before my work shift. It’s hard, as so many days I feel sluggish and moody or I wish to go out to have fun, but I’m determined and I’m staying focused on my priority: the competition. Davide and Simone and I are working on the signature drink, which will be inspired by mixology, cuisine, and patisserie techniques, and of course, brewing methods. 

Beyond that, I strongly believe in not only having a great team and high-quality coffee, but also having consistency in my routine. Showing up every day in the training room is an essential part of the process. Regardless of the final result, I know I’ve done my very best, and for me, sticking to a routine is already a win. 

What message are you looking to get across?

I wish to highlight the versatility of the ibrik, especially in Italy where it is considered a secondary brewing method. I hope that more and more baristas will embrace this ancient and yet so modern brewer. Brewing with ibrik is fun, challenging; you can experiment and the result is always surprising.

Moreover, I really want to share how ibrik coffee is a joyful way to connect cultures. It might have a different name from country to country, but in the end it has the same purpose: sharing a moment of joy and peace with our guests. I love the idea of making the judges feel like guests and not like they are judging a competition. 

By competing internationally, I am virtually opening my home to as many guests as possible; everyone is welcome to share a cup of ibrik coffee. “Sharing is caring,” they say, so let’s make that quote a reality! See you in Milan!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.

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