The Italian Coffee Standard

2015 has been an exhilarating year for Lavazza, the coffee company founded by Luigi Lavazza in Turin, Italy in 1895. Not only did Lavazza celebrate 120 years and four generations as a family-owned company, it also launched its first ever US broadcast media campaign, became the official coffee of the US Open, entered the second of a three year partnership with the Guggenheim museum in New York, and served the first authentic Italian espresso in outer space.

The top-selling coffee in Italy with a fast-growing presence in North America, Lavazza kick-starts the day for coffee lovers around the globe about 17 billion times in the course of a single year. The distinctive blue and white Lavazza logo adorns cups, umbrellas, and barista aprons from the tennis courts of the US Open to the aristocratic boulevards of Turin and the Eataly emporium on New York’s Fifth Avenue. As Lavazza continues its quest to introduce the authentic Italian coffee experience to new countries and customers around the world, innovation and a commitment to excellence and tradition continue to be its main drivers of motivation.

We spoke with Lavazza about its long history in innovating the world of coffee, learned what goes into making the perfect cup, and how hoteliers can provide the best coffee experience to their guests.

Espresso in space! Why, and how, did Lavazza become involved with this project?

LAVAZZA120 3The first capsule-based espresso system able to work in the extreme conditions of space, called ISSpresso, was the brainchild of a collaboration between Lavazza, Argotec (an aerospace engineering company), and the Italian Space Agency. This was a longtime dream of Lavazza’s, and we worked extremely hard with Argotec to develop technology that could not only be operated in space, but can deliver the same quality as an authentic Italian coffee in terms of cream, body, aroma and temperature. The first espresso was served to Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on May 3rd, 2015, and we hope many more astronauts will be able to enjoy Lavazza on future missions.

What are some of the innovations that Lavazza is working on at the moment that are most exciting?

A crucial component of the longevity of any company is its continued ability to innovate. Lavazza has always invested in and worked closely with excellent partners, universities and scientific organizations at the local and international level, and in the past few years we have been fully entrenched with highly innovative strategic projects. The ISSpresso initiative was of course one of these.

Several others involve research and innovation related to sustainability, which is vital to the future health of the coffee industry and something Lavazza is incredibly devoted to. This year we announced the launch of the first compostable capsule, which will be introduced in Italy next year and then around the world. We also have our not-for-profit arm, The Giuseppe and Pericle Lavazza Foundation, which sponsors long-term development projects in coffee-producing countries and aims to improve agricultural productivity and disseminate best practices throughout the coffee sector. This currently involves projects regarding everything from climate change and minimizing the environmental impact of coffee to promoting entrepreneurship.

Lavazza invented the art of coffee blending – what do you look for when creating a new signature coffee product?

Today we possess the same energy that encouraged our founder Luigi Lavazza to travel the globe to discover all the different countries where coffee is grown and to develop the concept of blending, which revolutionized the coffee sector by offering it a new world of aromas and flavor. Luigi was inspired to travel the world thanks to his father, who advised him that “in life, there is always more to taste,” advice that the Lavazza family still very much takes to heart.

Giuseppe Lavazza, the company’s Vice Chairman and 4th generation family member, often leads trips to the coffee-producing nations that Lavazza partners with, where part of his job is to assess the quality of the raw beans that Lavazza sources for its premium coffee blends. At the roasting facility, with each blend Lavazza aims to achieve balance between flavor and aroma while showcasing the beans’ natural nuances, from chocolaty to caramel notes, dried fruits and nuts.

We recently introduced a line of Single Origin drip coffee, for which Giuseppe and the company’s team of experts traveled to Santa Marta, Colombia, and Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, to procure some of the highest quality crops in the world. These two roasts each have their own distinct qualities and a true sense of place thanks to the unique ecosystems that exist at their source.

Lavazza has an extensive Barista training program – what is the philosophy that you aim to teach through your Training Center?

Our Training Center, the beating heart of Lavazza’s Innovation Center, serves as a barista school for all coffee lovers and provides education on Italian coffee culture. Its main aim is to model the art of preparing Italian coffee and preserving product excellence during preparation.

Today the Center has two units – Coffee Design and Espresso School, which combine the Italian passion for coffee with tradition and innovation. With 8 branches in Italy, 50 all over the world, the Lavazza Training Center is the largest coffee educational center in the world. We train many large hospitality teams and provide ongoing training and support for our network of customers. We have both organized courses and also offer on-site training to teach employees about coffee from plant to cup.