Today we visited LavAzza. LavAzza is the largest coffee company in Italy and has a world wide distribution. They say there are 14 billion cups of LavAzza coffee consumed in a year around the world. They are also known for their training centers where they train baristas and others in the coffee industry. They have training centers in 27 countries around the world.
We were greeted by Daniele Modaffari who served as our instructor and guide for the day. We started the morning with coffee, of course, that Daniele prepared in an efficient manner and which was quite good.
In the training room Daniele told us about the history of the company that was started by Luigi Lavazza as a grocery store and how he began to specialize in coffee until that was all he produced and sold. In those days green coffee beans were what was available and housewives would buy them and then have to roast and brew them. Luigi began roasting coffee beans and selling them that way and it proved to be a successful idea. He also created the first blends of coffee in the market and soon became the top Italian coffee importer and roaster. He introduced the parchment packaging (“Pergamin”) to preserve the coffee flavor. Although it is a “joint-stock” company, all the shares are owned by the family and family members form the leadership team of the company. The statistics on the companies growth and market share were impressive.
He talked about coffee from the plant to the harvesting to the processing. It was a morning full of interesting information followed by a very good lunch in the company cafeteria.
After lunch we donned hats and paper gowns and toured the production plant where the statistics of how much coffee they unloaded into their silos, moved, roasted packaged, stored and shipped each day was mind boggling.
We are talking about millions of tons. Aside from the manual unloading of bags of green coffee from some countries (most of their coffee arrives in tank trucks that are automatically unloaded), all of their processes are automated and require few people.
After the tour the fun part really began. We were shown and sampled some of the innovative coffee “recipes” that have been developed in their Innovation Center in collaboration with other creative individuals such as Ferran Adriá, celebrated chef of El Bulli. They showed us a espresso that wouldn’t pour from the cup. It was made of foam and was eaten with a spoon.
Then they showed us how to make an espresso “caviar” which they served on a dollop of whipped cream.
Then they gave us an “air espresso” that was made as semi-frozen espresso with milk, added to a whipped cream canister and extruded and then frozen. It had the effect of when you put it into your mouth it would disappear leaving only an espresso taste behind.
The last thing they showed us was a new double-walled cup and funnel they developed and will be releasing in a few days. You fill the funnel with crushed ice and pour a freshly brewed espresso with two sugar packets in it into the funnel above the cup and in 30 seconds you have an espresso that has gone from very hot to refreshing cold. Cold coffee is popular in Italy in the summer but usually doesn’t taste that good. This was good.
All in all it was an interesting and tasty day. I think I can understand how I am now able stay up so late writing this after this day full of coffee. For more photos you can follow this link http://gallery.me.com/doughiza/100124 .