This interview to La Marzocco explores how the ritual of drinking espresso is an essential part of the daily goings at the company.
Espresso is recognized through the world as the quintessential Italian coffee. It’s that famous drink depicted in all movies with stimulating properties on memory and vitality. It’s the best companion during a moment of reflection. It concludes a meal like it should, or begins the morning in the best fashion possible. No visitor to Italy is exempt from the experience of grabbing an espresso at the bar counter while trying to figure out the rituals behind the interaction between patron and barista. Perhaps, there’s nothing more immediately including to the culture than being a part of that game.
Over the past years, I have been having the pleasure to get involved in a series of events organized by La Marzocco, the Italian leading espresso machine brand based near Florence. Talking with some employees, I’ve learned how drinking coffee is an essential part of their daily goings as well as what powers their famous community events.
So I’ve asked Giada Biondi, a communication coordinator at La Marzocco, what it means to build a corporate culture around the art of drinking a good espresso and how they disseminate their philosophy globally. You can read the first part of our conversation here today.
I will share this Workplace Wisdom interview in two parts. The first part focuses on the company truly Italian approach to corporate well-being. The second one discusses how La Marzocco creates and supports initiatives for the global community of coffee enthusiasts to spread the culture of specialty coffee.
Tell us about La Marzocco.
We produce espresso machines since 1927 when Giuseppe and Bruno Bambi founded the company in Florence. Nowadays, La Marzocco is a synonym of Renaissance heritage, superb craftsmanship, work ethic, and technical innovation. Skilled local artisans handcraft and assemble the inox steel machines like works of art to order for the best cafés in the world from Florence to Seattle, Barcelona, Seoul, London, and Melbourne.
We are leaders in the market not only thanks to the prime features of our products but also to the rise of the “third wave coffee” scene, which promotes authenticity, sustainability, and quality. Third wave baristas love to brew coffee on fully handcrafted machines. And unlike other coffee machine makers who produce tools industrially, we’ve always chosen to manufacture entirely handmade products.
Over the years we have put a lot of effort into building an international coffee community of experts and aficionados. We want to promote the best aspect of the specialty coffee movement, emphasizing the quality along the whole coffee supply chain, from bean to cup. Our mission is to bring about a modern industrial humanism and revolutionize the habits, routines, and know-how of farmers, consumers, roasters, baristas, and stakeholders in the vast universe of coffee.
I read on your website: “La Marzocco prides itself on a strong company culture that encourages the pursuit of quality, excellence, and innovation through a trusting family atmosphere.” What does it mean in practice?
Regardless of our global recognition and cult following, the feeling of being a part of an extended family is vital to our daily goings. At La Marzocco, there’s hardly any hierarchical structure. Piero Bambi, the founder’s son, and La Marzocco Honorary President comes to work every day. Despite his age (he has turned 84 years old this year), his energy and enthusiasm are unbreakable. Mr. Bambi genuinely shares his lifelong passion for coffee with the new employees.
He has mentored many of us with patience and perseverance continually stressing the importance of an ongoing conversation between the producer (us) and the consumer. That is not only crucial to understand how the society changes but also being able to adapt quickly. And during the factory visits, it’s not unusual for him to drop by to meet the visitors and share his latest achievements or ideas [I was lucky to meet and chat with Mr. Piero Bambi during my factory visit last year]. And guests feel immediately welcome like being at someone’s home.
“You can learn a technique, but you can only develop passion through dedication, love, pride, and respect for your work.”- Piero Bambi
Talking about innovation, ever since the start, Giuseppe has embedded “innovation” in the company’s DNA. That is meant not only in the launch of unique products but as an unconventional and creative approach to everyday work.
Today, our mission is to produce the best professional espresso machines by creating a culture of sharing and well-being. Our ultimate “WHY” is to build relationships that enrich people’s life. That way, we’re like an extended family: everybody knows each other.
During my visit at La Marzocco HQ (in the hills north of Florence), I noticed how everybody is happy to work there. What’s the secret?
The primary goal of the management and the HR department is to support work-life balance and growth. La Marzocco offers various types of employees incentives schemes, from managerial coaching to language training. Moreover, as employees, we have access to a program of study grants, prizes, and financial subsidies for medical costs.
We have recently redesigned and enlarged our HQ near Florence with a focus on beauty and playfulness. Amongst other employees’ benefits, there is a playroom for children with wooden toys shaped like coffee machines, a gym with a personal trainer, a thinking space for creative projects, and three kitchens for cooking or warming our meals.
Coffee trees and a vertical garden add a touch of green to the common areas. The plethora of equipment like the wooden oven, the ping pong table, the football table, photo exhibitions, and artworks are not only “nice to have” but contribute to a healthier and playful work environment.
Giada, you had the opportunity–like other members of the marketing and sales team–to be a worker in the workshop for a couple of months. How was your experience?
Our Managing Director Guido Bernardinelli has always supported the idea that all the new team members should have an imprinting in production to fully understand artisanal production and to gain a broad perspective of the technology needed to produce a machine.
During the training program, my colleague and I learned step-by-step how to manufacture an espresso coffee machine from the inside out. It was a deep immersion into the Mugello lifestyle. Not without challenges, I discovered the secrets behind the production as well as the personal stories and hobbies of the workers. When I returned to Milan, where our marketing office is, I brought with me not only the practical know-how that reinforces my work as a communicator and storyteller but also a feeling of pride for the workforce of La Marzocco. They are the real artists. No machine would be possible without their skills.
Does that mean that the workers have the same opportunity to switch department?
Generally speaking, workers are highly specialized in one department. However, it’s not uncommon for everybody to rotate in other units for ad-hoc training and a broad understanding of the construction of a coffee machine. In the past, a worker from the GS3 department showed interest to grow as a salesperson. He was encouraged to find his path and switched from the production to be an ambassador of La Marzocco. Today, he is the sales manager for Tuscany and Central Italy.
Cantuccini, the Florentine steak, and Chianti wine are only a few of the famous delicacies of Tuscan cuisine. Is there anything about Tuscan food culture in La Marzocco corporate culture?
We are passionate and respectful of raw materials, whether those are coffee beans or loaves of bread. Ever since the start, we have incorporated everything about Tuscan, or broadly speaking, Italian eating culture. For instance, during the lunch break, you can hear the chatter and laughter around the café or in the canteen. There’s always somebody at the espresso machine that brews cups of espresso for coworkers. Similar to food, coffee embodies a moment of sharing and socializing, which we highly promote in a number of ways.
We work with local food producers for events and parties or keep things in-house with the whole team’s contribution. My colleague from the customer care, Benedetta Carcasci loves to curate the lunch menu when we have visits of clients, partners, or suppliers. Perhaps you noticed when you visited the HQ that we also have a wooden oven. We often bake pizza together!
Giada, thank you for sharing with us how it’s like to work at La Marzocco. Next week, I’m going to share part II of this interview series to La Marzocco. We’ll talk more about how to build a community around specialty coffee and some dedicated tips to those who want to bring specialty coffee into their workplace. For a wider look into La Marzocco, visit their website and find links to social media below.
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Interact with La Marzocco:
Facebook Page: @LaMarzocco