On the road to Castagneto Carducci, a stone’s throw from noble vineyards and olive trees, there is an aroma of coffee in the air. Romano and Nicola Marinai, father and son, roast the coffee beans. At times even the winemakers and oil millers who frequent the industrial area of Donoratico cannot resist the unmistakable aroma that comes from the King Coffee warehouse and shop. The scent of coffee has something exotic about it, it's like an incense diffusing its tropical aromas.
When Romano and Nichola, who have been coffee roaster for a long time, begin to recount their story, they tell a tale that starts in 1953. It's the story of a family, of a passion, of a job that even in these times with the aggressive, invasive global market, continues to prove each day that it is still possible to carry out a profession by using ones hand, skills, heart and intellect. “Being artisans means not transferring the manufacturing process to computers and relative software, but working in direct contact with the coffee, using the five senses which are much more reliable than any piece of technology." These are Romano’s own words - which tell us a lot about his work- while he is taking off his white lab coat after a morning of coffee bean roasting.
Romano founded the family business with his son Nicholas and the King trademark was created as an offshoot from Livorno’s Ticos Coffee. "We have been in Donoratico since 1993 and from the start our goal has been to be a family business: working the product manually from preparing the blends, to the roasting and the packaging," explains Nicola during the cooking of the coffee beans.. " In a small company like ours, intuition and experimentation form the basis of the product which lives its most exciting moments in the production process through the development of the blends and roasting. Preparing the blends means confronting and feeling the essence of the flavors and aromas that will form the soul of the coffee, roasting on the other hand tests our perception as the degree of roasting is defined by the eye observing the look of the grains; it is a complex task that requires great experience”. It is at this stage that significant changes take place in the grains. The coffee beans are roasted at a temperature of about 230 degrees: the grains lose weight, they dry, increase in volume, change colour and darken due to the carbonization of the cellulose and the caramelization of the sugars; but above all the “caffeone” is formed, an oily substance that determines the aroma and flavor of the coffee.
The size of an artisan family business, even though it doesn’t grow in size and quantity, does create a less standardized final product and a more personal response to customer demands. Caffè King coffee is distributed locally and is a symbol “par excellence” of this territory. The raw material comes from the tropics but the work is the cultural heritage of this area to which the Marinai Family and Caffè King are valued witnesses.
In Eduardo De Filippo's comedy " Questi fantasmi ", he speaks from a balcony with a hypothetical neighbor "professor" and discourses about the preparation of coffee, as if it were one of life’s poems, by identifying the correct point of roasting by the color which should be “manto di monaco”(a Monk’s cloak). It is therefore not mistaken to think that in Maremma - bittersweet memory of Carducci, land of wine, marquises and horses - Nicola and Romano Marinai daily write poetry with their coffee.
The coffee by Eduardo de Filippo: watch the video