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Why we opened an independent gelateria cafe

Posted in Dolcino story

There’s nothing like a perfect cup of coffee, is there?

But the definition of this is different, depending on whom you ask. Me, I like my coffee strong. I don’t like gallons of it, preferring to have a dash of milk in my coffee rather than a bucket load of milk with a tiny bit of coffee. Sadly, I’ve found that most of my favourite coffee bars have tended towards the latter in recent years.

So when my husband, Francesco, came up with the idea of opening a gelateria café in Loughborough, I jumped at the idea.

A perfect cup of Dolcino coffeeAt last, I thought, I’d be able to ensure coffee was made properly.

We decided to go back to first principles and select what we felt was a perfect coffee blend. This process was a long one and we ended up tasting over 50 different blends of coffee before settling on a front runner. The favourite, in the end, was a blend made by MOGI coffee. The roundness of it had none of the bitterness caused by the high proportions of Arabica many coffee houses favour.

Like us MOGI are an independent, family-run business. It felt like an appropriate synergy to use another independent to supply our coffee.

What about the gelato?

Then there was the ice cream? Ice cream? No! I mean gelato.

Gelato counter at DolcinoNow, gelato is quite different from ice cream. And surprisingly difficult to find. Many places I visit claim to sell gelato, but all too often I’m disappointed by the watery, nothingy taste. Gelato is supposed to be dense and creamy, and full of flavour. Most of the time it isn’t, apart from when you eat it in Italy, and then, often, it’s divine.  Francesco and I wanted to replicate that quality in our café. We scratched our heads over gelato suppliers, scouring the land for good ones, tasting lots, coming home disappointed most of the time. Dejected, we said to ourselves we would never find a good gelato supplier in the UK.

So then Francesco decided to bite the bullet. He’d made gelato with his grandfather and father as a boy and sold it off the back of a bicycle in Rome in the 1960s and 70s, true Dolce Vita style. If we couldn’t find a quality supplier here, we would make it ourselves. That way we’d be able to retain control over the quality, we’d be able to offer a wide variety of different flavours, changing them around as needed and we’d be able to innovate, too.

That’s when our mini gelato-making factory was born. If you come to Dolcino in Loughborough you can look through the glass at the far end of the shop and see us making gelato every day. That’s why it’s so fresh and tasty. And it’s also why you can suggest flavours and innovate with us, if you don’t see what you want on offer. Demand is so high, we can’t make all of it ourselves anymore, so we also have the assistance of a highly trained gelato-maker who – with over 600 hours in gelato training – qualified in the trade in the famous seaside town of Rimini, Italy. With his help, we can ensure our gelato is always of the highest standard, a gold standard that comes directly from the heart of the gelato-eating Italian coast.

Being an independent business gives us so much flexibility. It allows us to choose products for you that we really like and when things aren’t quite right, we have flexibility to change them. The other day an Italian customer said, ‘What about selling the new Italian craze in coffee, Cafe Nocciola or Cafe Kinder – new blends that have the added ingredients put through the roastery with the coffee beans? Will you consider it?’

Well, you know what? That sounds like an idea, so maybe we just will.

Kirsten Arcadio is the proprietor of Dolcino which opened its first outlet in Loughborough in July 2015.

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