We meet the ‘Italian-Scouse’ coffee stall owner Liverpudlians can’t stop raving about

Antonio Monica blew up on social media after an unexpected endorsement ... and his ‘absolutely delicious’ coffee.

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He doesn’t have a regular shop anymore, but Antonio Monica’s stall in Liverpool’s Metquarter has received rave reviews on social media and now locals can’t stop talking about the quality his coffee and pastries.

Antonio opened Caffetteria Dantonio on the upper tier of the Metquarter in 2005, but he’s since closed up shop and moved downstairs to open a little Italian coffee stand - right next to Costa.

Selling a range of Italian pastries, baked goods, sandwiches, gelato and of course, coffee, the quality of his wares and an unexpected endorsement have seen him blow up on social media. We headed down to meet the man himself and hear his story.

“People look at me as a business owner and think wow you must have money, but do you know how many coffees I’d have to make to earn £250? I probably earn about £12 an hour,” he tells LiverpoolWorld.

Antonio’s business is pretty quiet after around 1pm, however, he says he’s not really in for the money, it’s a ‘community coffee shop’.

“I don’t really get much busier during half terms and things like that, my customers tend to be my regulars and we’re all a family. Some of my regulars are blind and would prefer to come to me as they can sit down and know I’ll make their drink without them needing to figure things out,” Antonio says.

He added: “My customers are mainly regulars but my busiest week was after Sugar Smith wrote about me on Facebook. My wife saw it and said to me, ‘get ready because you’re about to get busy’. The queues were massive.”

Back in March, baker Sugar Smith shared a post on Facebook asking people to support Antonio’s business as he was looking ‘lost’ stood behind the counter without customers. The post ended up going viral and Antonio found himself in high demand.

The brilliant cake made by Sugar Smith.The brilliant cake made by Sugar Smith.
The brilliant cake made by Sugar Smith.

Now known as the Italian-Scouse, Antonio said he’s greeted by his customers with ‘Ciao lad’ and has now started stocking reusable coffee cups donning the phrase. New in store this week, he eagerly showed me the bright red cups and we joked about him needing to make ‘Ciao babe’ ones now too.

Antonio, who has an 11-year-old son, works by himself and can work up to 12 hours a day, cleaning, organising and making coffee. He told me: “I can’t afford to hire someone else, I would if I could but I don’t have the money. I have to stay when I’m unwell and I work every day.”

Like the rest of us, Antonio has felt the pinch of the cost of living crisis and found the bills in his family’s apartment have risen. He said that he would love to live in a bigger house so his son has more space, but it just isn’t possible. However, he continues to work with a smile on his face and told me that even after working long days by himself, he cycles home to Garston on his bike - which he has named Juliette.

When asked why he continues to run the business he said: “Because we’re a family. I have my three ladies who come in twice a day and I got them special cushions and their own reserved sign for their table.

“I know all of my regular customers’ orders, they don’t even know what they’re ordering, they just say Antonio and I make their drink.

“We’re a real community. You have to mention my three lovely ladies, Anne-Marie, Bernadette and Geraldine - they’ve been supporting me for twenty years.”

He added: “I do everything for my child. Him being okay is all I want for the future”. He will finally have a day off this weekend for his son’s holy communion.

Even spending an hour at Caffetteria Dantonio, I really saw the community he was talking about. One woman sat eating and chatting to him on her break, another came and asked what ice cream she had the other day and he immediately got it for her, and another Italian business owner came for his 3pm espresso. Antonio’s business really is a gem and an integral part of the day to day lives of his customers. Not to mention - the coffee is absolutely delicious.