The story of Lavazza S.p.A. begins in 1895, when Luigi Lavazza opened a grocery shop in Turin, Italy. A man filled with entrepreneurial spirit, ingenuity, and passion for his work, he devoted much time to understanding the world of cofffee from the inside-out. He discovered the different origins and characteristics of the coffee plant, and studied the art of blending to meet the tastes of customers, creating the blends that soon became highly popular among coffee lovers everywhere.
A trip to Brazil enabled Luigi to become even more aware of the beverage’s full potential, during an era of great change. The Lavazza coffee we drink today is the result of his idea: combining coffees from different parts of the world. These coffees are harvested, processed, mixed and roasted to create many different and balanced blends, and satisfy the taste of every one of us.
In the 1920s, Lavazza began to expand. It was just after World War I and Turin was bustling: the Lingotto plant entered into production for Fiat, and the Lavazza grocery shop became a small business. Luigi Lavazza S.p.A. was formed in 1927. Notably, two of the five founders were women, Emilia and Maria. Luigi Lavazza, his wife Emilia and children Maria, Mario and Giuseppe, known as Beppe, were all present. They set up the Luigi Lavazza Company, with share capital of 1,500,000 lire. Lavazza then began conquering the Turin province, thanks to its vehicle fleet and sales network. In this same period Lavazza started to use Pergamin: a pack with two layers of paper that maintains the fragrance of coffee. This enabled households to buy coffee in greater quantities to be kept at home for a few days. It was the first step towards the Lavazza packs we find in shops today.
In 1946 Italy became a Republic. The war had finally come to an end, along with the period of the embargo on coffee imports. Mario, Beppe and Pericle Lavazza rightly decided that the company should specialize in the sale of coffee: no longer loose, but into a pack bearing the company trademark. The first Lavazza logo dates back to 1946, and was created by the Aerostudio Borghi in Milan. The central letter “A”, larger than the other letters, still identifies us today.
In 1950, for the first time, the pressure vacuum packed tin was used to preserve the aroma of the coffee and its entire flavor. This made long-term conservation, and hence much wider distribution, possible. Emilio Lavazza, Beppe’s son, joined the firm in 1955 contributing his very clear and innovative ideas. 1957 In the Corso Novara headquarters, Lavazza built its great roasting plant, capable of handling over 40,000 kg of coffee a day! Two years later, in 1959, Lavazza launched their first decaffeinated coffee: DEC. Their industrial growth continued with the opening, in 1965, of the largest roasting plant in Europe, in Settimo Torinese.
The 1970s marked a difficult period for the Italian economy, but Lavazza had new ideas to survive the economical crisis and subsequent decreases in coffee consumption. It is precisely during crisis periods that innovation is needed, and innovate is exactly what Lavazza did. After Pergamin and the tin, the vacuum pack brought the full aroma of Lavazza coffee into Italian homes. The first coffee to be packed in this way for retail sale, in 1971, was Qualità Rossa which is even today one of the Italians’ favorite blends. And that’s not all! The world’s largest coffee school existing today was created during that period, in 1979, under the name Luigi Lavazza Center for Studies and Research into Coffee. Today, the Lavazza Training Center continues to provide training and promote innovation and disseminate the espresso culture throughout the world.
Today we are accustomed to drinking espresso coffee not only in cafés, but also with vending machines in offices and in public areas such as, for example, at the train station, and with automatic coffeemakers also at home. But this has not always been the case. In 1989, the Vending sector was formed with the Lavazza Espresso Point system: an espresso machine that uses single-serve pre-packed coffee capsules. Following the formation of the first foreign subsidiary, in France in 1982, Lavazza Coffees Ltd. was set up in London in 1990 to spread Italian coffee in the UK. In 1992, the first Lavazza Calendar was created from the encounter between Giuseppe Lavazza and Helmut Newton. It was in black and white, set in Paris and Montecarlo and recounted with a brand-new language the deep relationship between Lavazza and coffee.
2004 saw the opening of the Giuseppe and Pericle Lavazza Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to improve people’s living conditions in coffee-growing countries. The most important project — which still continues today — is called ¡Tierra! Thanks to the ¡Tierra! project Lavazza has permanently improved, in eight countries, the living conditions of more than 3,000 caficultores, boosting economic growth, improving their lifestyle and introducing new, more ecological and profitable agricultural techniques. The new system Lavazza BLUE for offices was also launched in 2004. The new espresso system was characterised by the innovation of the self-protected capsule, patented by Lavazza.
In 2012, the results to Lavazza's environmental action were released in a Sustainability Report, which evidenced the company's ongoing commitment to green coffee production. Over the past few years, Lavazza has launched a program aimed at assessing the environmental performances of various key products: embracing green coffee production methods, the processing stages in the countries of origin and at production facilities in Italy, packaging, coffee machines, shipment of raw materials and finished products, as well as coffee disposal.
10 years after the Lavazza calendar took coffee into space with the photographs of Thierry Le Gouès, inspired by Barbarella and the pop and science fiction imagery of the 60s and 70s, the dream became reality. Lavazza successfully brought Italian espresso onto the International Space Station in 2014, in collaboration with Argotec and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). In the same year, Lavazza saw the results of another unique project: in partnership with illycaffè they unveiled the genome sequencing of Coffea arabica. Today, to celebrate 120 years of our history, Lavazza is taking part in Expo 2015 where they are presenting the first Lavazza compostable capsule for preparing a perfect Italian espresso, respectful of the environment.
Throughout its history of growth and evolution, one thing has remained the same at Lavazza, which is the quality of their coffee and espresso. Lavazza believes that quality is not controlled but, rather, it is built. It is a daily process that involves a dedicated team during all the production phases. Avant-garde techniques applied in an innovative way: these have always been the fundamentals of Lavazza's method, ever since Luigi Lavazza invested in what was at the time the world's most modern roasting plant, and invented a brand-new form of packaging in order to produce more coffee of better quality. Lavazza’s research and development team carefully set control procedures to check every stage of the production process until the coffee reaches the cup to make that perfect Italian espresso.