Dressed in a black shirt and red apron, he pours a frothy layer of milk onto the dark brown-black liquid in a tiny cup with a concentrated look and very careful movements. This liquid is the fuel for many to start the day. Despite his careful working method, he manages to talk continuously. Rather rattle. And that in unadulterated ‘Andalu‘. We do our best to follow this barista.
His unbridled enthusiasm shows that coffee is his life. He knows everything about this universal drink and usually travels around the world for it. However, since covid-times, those travels are considerably reduced. We visit Juanma Cafeina, the nickname he has given himself, in Seville. Juanma is the main barista of coffee brand Catunambú. A barista is someone who is professionally dedicated to preparing coffee of all shapes and sizes. After our meeting, we have no doubt this barista knows almost everything about the processes involved in preparing the espresso and about the nature and taste of coffee beans, regardless of their origin. Juanma also prepares special desserts with coffee and even uses it in gin and tonics.
Catunambú is a Spanish family business that, since 1897, has devoted itself with heart and soul to the traditional roasting of the tastiest and high-quality coffee beans from all over the world. This company’s coffees are known for having an intense aroma and exceptional taste. According to Juanma, there is Spanish ‘pasión’ (passion) and ‘alegría’ (joy of life) in the coffee. That passion is well reflected in the way the coffee is promoted worldwide; a flamenco dancer dressed in a blood-red dress (the same red as in the logo) against a jet black background. This image appeals to the imagination, especially in Asia, where flamenco and therefore Andalucia are very popular.
Colombian coffee maker as origin
Juanma tells us while enjoying a delicious coffee with the milk foam draped in a creative flower, that the name Catunambú is due to the Colombian coffee roaster Juan Ferrer who emigrated to Seville more than a century ago to make people happy with good coffee. He named his coffee after an indigenous tribe from his native land and opened a small shop in the heart of the Andalucian capital. In the shop, he roasted the coffee beans himself and served them to his guests. It worked so well, he was soon able to open more coffee shops.
Today, Catunambú is one of the oldest and best-known coffee brands in Spain. It is the only one that is still 100% Spanish-owned. Consumers find the coffee on the shelves of the best department stores. Because Juanma donates coffee at a fair in Seville, the proceeds of which go to a good cause, we combine drinking a cup of coffee with the enthusiastic barista with a visit to the coffee roaster on the outskirts of Seville. There, the high-quality coffee beans from all over the world are selected, traditionally roasted, and blended. For several years, Andalucian coffee has been spreading all over the world. And now, the Spanish passion in a cup is also available in the Netherlands, China, Thailand, the United States, Germany, and France.
Sustainable coffee, tea and cocoa powder
Catunambú also practices product differentiation. In addition to various types of coffee, the company also supplies cocoa powder and tea. When choosing the raw materials, the circumstances of the producers who are at the origin of the product chain are taken into account. Juanma: ‘A few years ago we launched Tea Quiero organic fair trade tea. We not only strive to deliver top-quality products, but we also want to do so as sustainably as possible. For example, all our plantations are certified and we support various Café Mundi initiatives. Café Mundi is a company created to improve the education and living conditions of local coffee farmers.”
Our barista continuously prepares coffees in record time with fluid movements, while we sip our third cappuccino. He continues, ‘we also promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle. In Andalucia, for example, we sponsor numerous local youth football teams and we regularly organise our ‘Catunambú Cup’.”
Where does coffee come from?
The origin of coffee, Juanma says, is located in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), in Northeast Africa. Here Shepherd Kaldi was very surprised when one day he saw his flock much more energetic than usual, after they had eaten red seeds from a bush he did not know. Kaldi decided to taste the fruits for himself and, finding that he felt invigorated by them, took some to a nearby monastery. The monks cooked the fruits and tasted the drink. They were surprised by the unpleasant taste and threw the rest of the fruits into the fire. Then, when a wonderful scent rose from the fire as the fruits were being roasted, the monks decided to remove them from the fire and add them to hot water again. As legend has it, this is how the first cup of coffee was born.
The coffee factory
Bouncing slightly from the large amount of coffee we already drank, we are again offered coffee on arrival at the factory on the outskirts of Seville. This time we ask for a decaffeinated coffee that turns out to be surprisingly tasty fresh from the espresso machine. Juanma points out the importance of a good espresso machine. “You can still have such good coffee or have ground the best beans, but if you have the wrong machine, it will still go wrong.” We walk through a room where they experiment with making and blending different coffees and with ways of roasting the beans.
Juanma then leads us through the huge hall where high piles of jute sacks with coffee beans are stacked. The beans differ in colour. One species is light green and the other more brownish. Inscriptions point to the origins of Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Kenya, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Asia. Our barista adds that the only place in Europe where coffee is grown is a valley in Gran Canaria. “The coffee that comes from the Valle de Agaete is very exclusive.”
Juanma likes a good filter coffee the most and the best coffee still comes from Ethiopia, where the beans originally come from. “El buencafé debe ser caliente como nuestro sol, negro como el diablo, puro como un ángel y dulce como el amor”. (good coffee should be black as hell, warm like our sun, pure like an angel, and sweet as love) this is how Juanma poetically concludes his story. We wonder later whether he came up with this Catunambú slogan. Or whether Juanma appropriated it out of his fanatical love for ‘his’ coffee.