A new trend among professionals is spreading in Milan. It reflects a way of working with flexible schedules that values human relationships and is not afraid of bridging professional and private life.
Over the last month, I think I have had at least four appointments around 8:00 am / 8:30 am for breakfast with friends with whom I also have work relationships. I like it: it’s an informal and pleasant way to meet and discuss projects and collaborations.
It’s ideal for my way of socializing and working. Office meetings are often a little cold, I prefer to meet one or two people at a time in a friendly and relaxed way. At breakfast you are fresh, it’s nice to share a few laughs and chat in front of a slice of cake. And it’s less demanding than meeting for lunch or dinner.
Many bars in Milan seem to have understood this and are increasingly organizing to offer a setting for welcoming and satisfying experience in the early hours of the morning.
Vegan croissants are popular
Sometimes there is a real menu with tea, herbal teas, smoothies, fruit and vegetable juices, puddings, cakes, muffins, cookies and croissants of all kinds. The vegan croissant, for example, is now available in almost all the bars in Milan. Paradoxically, in England it’s very hard to find. Yet that’s where the Vegan Society was founded in 1944. In short: Milan defeats London on the vegan croissant, who would have ever said that?
From 90s Aperitivo towards 2020s Breakfasts: culturally not too different
But… why am I writing about breakfast? What does photography have to do with it? Is it at all relevant?
Of course it’s relevant! Some of my recent and more productive work appointments took place over breakfast. The early morning meal seems to be the new moment elected by many professionals for informal meetings in which friendship and work merge. It’s natural to compare this trend to the renowned “Aperitivo Milanese” the phenomenon that exploded with yuppie-ism of the 90s when in Milan a drink before dinner became an opportunity to discuss business deals and projects or meet professionals for collaborations.
The Coolest places were frequented by models, photographers and creative professionals for whom the meeting in front of a cocktail had almost become an integral part of the work.
Breakfast does not offer great opportunities to socialize with strangers as an aperitif, but the unofficial and pleasant mood has something in common with the evening meetings. Another difference is that at breakfast there is no alcohol and, therefore, conversations are often quieter.
Today, at aperitif time many professionals of my generation seem to prefer a yoga class to a cocktail. Breakfast, however, is rising in popularity. And it’s precisely at breakfast that I let an art-director explain me a briefing, confront myself with a colleague or select the images for an exhibition with an art gallery owner. I know of other photographers who do the same. Are we isolated cases or is this a wide-spreading trend?
Intrigued, I asked Stefano Nincevich who I would define without hesitation the top expert on the subject for Italy. Since 2001, he has been writing about trends in the world of Food & Beverage on Bar Giornale (the reference magazine of the Italian Bar Industry). He also teaches at the Politecnico di Milano and is the author of several publications. His last book is about the history of cocktails: “Cocktail Safari”.
How come breakfast is becoming so popular for informal meetings?
I believe this evolution is closely linked to the concept of “Time Porosity”, a theory developed by Émilie Genin of the University of Montreal that points out how personal time and working time are sometimes overlapping. In those cases, people tend to meet in public spaces and this has led to extending the opportunities of food & beverage consumption. Which is why the managers of the premises are welcoming and encouraging this trend.
In the past, we would normally have a business lunch, dinner or aperitif. The last private moment left out was breakfast. Today it’s at breakfast that we meet to share a moment of relaxation with a friend before work. And it’s at breakfast that a work contact can become a new friend.
Some bar owners have noticed a latent need among consumers and started offering a breakfast experience that matches.
This trend can actually be considered a reflection of the preferences of healthy conscious Italians over the last thirty years or so. In fact, since the ’90s there has been growing interest to well-being products and services. In terms of food choices, this new wave translates into the preference given to fresh whole foods, possibly organic and seasonal, low in fat and sugar.
What growth potential do you see in this new-born breakfast trend?
According to an exclusive survey published by Bargiornale (“Away from home consumer trend” TradeLab report, 2019), about 26 million Italians, aged between 16 and 70, go to the bar every day to have breakfast.
Breakfast is by far the moment of the day with the highest number of visits to bars (58%), but also the one with the lowest average price spent.
This growing trend is a great opportunity to increase the turnover of that time slot. That’s why the bars that are upgrading their breakfasts to a superior service are on the rise.
How do bars add value to their breakfasts?
Investing more on three factors that are very dear to all of us: the pleasantness of the environment, the quality of the service, a more complete menu. The “breakfast bar” is a type of bar expected to keep growing in popularity, but it’s vital that what’s offered meets the new needs of the public. Otherwise it remains in the old patterns.
What kind of news do you see coming?
We can expect the birth of a number of specialized breakfast bars tailored to the needs of sub-niches with combined menus or unique proposals. A good example is the new wave of specialty coffee bars that focus on a sensorial tasting experience and live coffee roasting. Something that brings us back to the romantic coffee roasting bars of the fifties, places where time and experience were dilated.
This is a story of the Furutist Club
Written by: Enzo Dal Verme
About the author:
Currently based in Milan, Enzo has been working in the photographic industry for over 20 years. His celebrity portraits and reportage pics have been published in Vanity Fair, l’Uomo Vogue, The Times, Glamour, GQ, Marie Claire, Grazia, Amica, Madame Figarò, Elle and many other magazines.
He currently shares his time between photography and strategic communication consultancy. At times the two things overlap and… a new adventure is on the way (stay tuned!).In general, he prefers to focus his attention on solutions rather than problems and on making that solution really appealing and sexy. Brutally practical idealist, he has a predilection for using mainstream media with a subversive twist 🙂
Now very willing to work on sustainable and cruelty-free projects. Consumers’ money needs to go sustain ethical businesses and stop funding unethical companies.
He loves tofu.
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