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Discussing Coffee with Marco Lavazza at the US Open

The fourth generation coffee aficionado on global coffee aesthetics

by David Graver
on 03 September 2015

It's been a big year for Lavazza. Not only is it their 120th anniversary, they've also partnered with the Italian Pavillon at the World Exposition Milan 2015 and expanded their tennis partnerships to include a sponsorship of the US Open. We sat with fourth generation Lavazza family member Marco—the brand's Vice Chairman—for a match at this year's tennis event and had the opportunity to learn a little bit about global coffee consumption and how tennis and coffee match aesthetically.

First, how do you drink your coffee?

Espresso, the same every single day.

What do you think the notion of being a family-owned business conveys?

Whenever I travel abroad, and people check my passport at customs people see "Lavazza" and then ask me what I'm here for. I tell them work, and they ask what I do. I explain that it's coffee and they say, "Aha! Are you part of the Lavazza family?" There is a family behind this brand, and there are many faces within. There are 120 years of history affixed to the same surname. I always tell my colleagues that they are not selling a product. They're selling a family. It makes a huge difference.

We put our face out there, every day, even with our collaborators. That's what we do. We work every day at this company. It's passion. It's inside our DNA. Nobody from the family is forced to stay within the company. When you try working in the food industry, and in coffee, when it's something your family has always been doing, it becomes a passion inside of you that lasts forever.

You know, we invented espresso. This was invented in Italy and it's one form of the overall art.
What does it mean to be Italian in the coffee industry?

You know, we invented espresso. This was invented in Italy and it's one form of the overall art. We invented the blending process, so it's something that belongs to our past, more than 100 years ago. And this product has found people all around the world. There are so many people that drink it. Here in the US, it's more like espresso-based beverages. It's not the single shot. It's a latte or an Americano.

In partnering with our American friends, we had to address milk. We wanted to produce the best coffee for use with every single type of milk: low fat, no fat, 2%. This is typically American. We wanted to be sure that every single product was perfect. Our R&D department has long been working with coffee to figure out the best way to enjoy it and express the passion that we have, from the espresso shot to the coffee mug. It's to make people understand what Lavazza is, yes, but what matters most is the coffee. We obsess over this.

What we found here, with tennis, was the perfect match. There's the same value for history and tradition, but also passion and energy. That's what we share.
Why did you partner with the US Open now and why tennis?

We are actually in the fifth year of our partnership with Wimbledon. And this is our first year at Roland-Gaross and our first year here at the US Open. What we found here, with tennis, was the perfect match. There's the same value for history and tradition, but also passion and energy. That's what we share. Our goal, like with tennis, is that everyone must receive the best experience, 360 degrees.

And the global allure of tennis appeals to you?

We are present in more than 120 countries around the world. We have a strong presence outside of Italy. This event is investing outside of home. We are everywhere and we are proud of that. It's not easy but that's what we are trying to do. We consume 17 billion cups of coffee a year, all over the world. We have wonderful feedback from Wimbledon and Roland-Gaross.

Lead image by Francesco Sapienza, second image courtesy of Tamara Peterson, final image by Cool Hunting

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