From the vocabulary associated with coffee and the development of machinery to brew it and grind it to some of the world’s oldest cafés and machinery makers, Italy has left a permanent mark on how the world discusses, drinks, and enjoys this acclaimed beverage. In the past 90 years, Italian leading espresso machine maker La Marzocco has built a strong reputation and a cult-like following around the religious art of drinking espresso.
In this interview with Giada Biondi, a communication coordinator at La Marzocco, we talk about their corporate culture, a family-style approach that includes drinking espresso every day with colleagues and baking pizza with guests. This topic doesn’t reap the spotlight as much as their famous events or the latest machine released in the market. However, truth to be told, the company wouldn’t have endured such longevity without a culture that supports the well-being of the employees.
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 market leaders 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 manufacture entirely handmade products.
Over the years, we have put great effort into building an international community of coffee experts and aficionados. We promote the social aspect of the specialty coffee movement with emphasis on the quality of the whole coffee supply chain, from bean to cup. Our mission is to create a modern industrial humanism and revolutionize the habits, routines, and know-how of farmers, consumers, roasters, baristas, and stakeholders in the wide universe of coffee.
What does this statement mean: “La Marzocco prides itself on a strong company culture that encourages the pursuit of quality, excellence, and innovation through a trusting family atmosphere?”
Regardless of the global recognition and the cult following, we are like an extended family. At La Marzocco there’s no hierarchy and everything is informal and down-to-earth. To give you an example, Piero Bambi, Giuseppe’s son, and La Marzocco’s Honorary President willingly comes to work at the factory every day despite his age (he was born in 1933). And during the factory visits, he frequently greets the visitors in person as if he welcomed them into his home [I was lucky to meet with Mr. Piero Bambi during my visit at the factory in spring 2016].
He is like a father–or a grandfather to many of us–sharing his hard-learned learnings with patience and perseverance. One of his biggest lessons is that we should talk often with our customers to understand how the society changes. And learn how to adapt quickly.
“You can learn a technique, but you can only develop passion through dedication, love, pride, and respect for your work.”- Piero Bambi
Innovation has been in the company’s DNA since the start. Not only it’s a component of our products but the way we approach creativity in the everyday work. Today, we strive to manufacture the best professional espresso machines with a focus on growing personal connections beyond the professional relationship.
During my visit to La Marzocco HQ, I noticed that employees seemed to be happy to work there. What’s your secret?
The primary goal of the management and the HR department is to support work-life balance and personal and professional growth. Amongst the employees’ incentives schemes, we offer managerial coaching, language training, and a program of study grants, prizes, and financial subsidies for medical costs.
Also, we have recently redesigned and enlarged our HQ near Florence with a focus on beauty and playfulness. 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.
Finally, we also have a wooden oven, ping pong and the football tables, artwork, and photos on the walls. Those are not luxury but all-important items that make the work environment more playful and creative.
You had the opportunity–like other members of the marketing and sales team–to work in the workshop for a couple of months. How was your experience?
Our Managing Director Guido Bernardinelli believes the new team members should have an imprinting in production to understand artisanal production and get a broad perspective of the technology needed to produce a machine.
I also joined the training program together with a colleague. We learned how to manufacture an espresso coffee machine step-by-step from the inside out. But that was a mostly deep immersion into the Mugello lifestyle. Not only did I learn the secrets behind the production but also some of the personal stories of the workers.
I returned to the Milan office with the practical know-how that feeds my work as a communicator and a storyteller and the feeling of pride for our workforce. The workers are the real artists. No machine would ever be possible without their skills.
Do the workers have the same opportunity to switch department?
Workers are usually highly specialized in one department. However, most of the employees can rotate in other units for ad-hoc training about the construction of a machine. In the past, a worker from the GS3 department was interested to grow as a salesperson. He was encouraged to find his path and switched from the production to become our ambassador. Today, he is La Marzocco 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 it accurate to say that your corporate eating culture is mostly Tuscan?
We are passionate and respectful of raw materials, whether those are coffee beans or loaves of bread. Since we are in Tuscany–and we’ve always been here–the way we eat and what we eat at work and during work events is local.
During the lunch break, our team members eat in the canteen. And after lunch, everyone makes an espresso for themselves and their colleagues. It gets always so loud until everyone returns to their workstation. Similar to meals, the coffee break is a moment for sharing and socializing, which we highly promote in a number of ways.
For events, we usually work with local food producers and suppliers. Sometimes we ask the whole team to help us with cooking. Every now and then, Benedetta Carcasci, my colleague from the customer care, takes care of the lunch menu when clients, partners, or suppliers visit the factory. That often includes an oven-baked pizza!
Giada, thank you for sharing with us how it’s like to work at La Marzocco. The second part of the interview focuses on their events. We talk about the initiatives for the global community of coffee enthusiasts to spread the culture of specialty coffee. Read the interview here.
For a wider look into La Marzocco, visit their website. And find links to social media below.
Interact with La Marzocco:
Facebook Page: @LaMarzocco
At WE Factory, we help organizations’ design their food culture to support people’s creative progress and wellbeing. Read more on Workplace.