How do you build a company culture that shines sociality and conviviality from the inside-out? La Marzocco certainly offers a good example. It starts from drinking a good espresso with teammates.
In Part I of this interview series to La Marzocco, we talked to Giada Biondi, a communication specialist, about the company corporate well-being initiatives and how everybody brews and drinks espresso with their teams. Today, we explore how to build a truly enthusiastic community around specialty coffee and how to brings specialty coffee into the work environment.
Globally, consumers are becoming increasingly more aware of specialty coffee. In which ways has the culture developed in the past years?
There is a deeper knowledge that encompasses both the roasters, the baristas, and the customers. Compared to only a decade ago, now people are more educated about coffee and the supply chain. Social media has for sure contributed to increasing transparency. Everybody can follow the journey of roasters who visit the coffee farms in places like Guatemala or Ethiopia on Instagram or Facebook.
“Drinking coffee is like belonging to a tribe, with its own style, like tattoos, mustache, and denim clothes.”
The specialty coffee industry has become “event-driven” and “experienced-based”. Drinking coffee relates to a particular lifestyle. It’s like belonging to a tribe, with its own style, like tattoos, mustache, and denim clothes.
Your events are always really popular. How has La Marzocco as a brand managed to build such a global community of coffee lovers?
Meeting people and building a pool of talents is the starting point. We organize events, courses, and meetings to inspire, educate, and nurture our community. We also invite internal experts as well as local and international experts like roasters, scientists, and designers to lead courses that range from the evolution of coffee trading over the centuries to coffee extraction.
Amongst other projects, in 2007 we partnered up with two leading manufacturers in the specialty coffee market, Mahlkönig, and Probat, to establish Songwa Estates, a non-profit endeavor. Our goal was to educate the staff about the challenges of growing, harvesting and processing green coffee, and providing support to the local community whose livelihoods depend on coffee, financed in part by the project “Hands for Songwa.”
Recently, we’ve also launched a roaster-in-residence program called “Rotating Roaster.” Every month, we invite an Italian and an international roaster to take over a café inside our workshop. During the residency, they introduce and serve their coffees to employees and all the visitors of the factory tour. Roasters gain social media visibility and direct feedback from the consumer as well as the opportunity to test the ideal recipe on our machines.
Earlier we discussed how Italian food culture is in a way embedded in all the initiatives promoted internally. How is this connected to the international events and visits?
There is really no difference between local employees or international guests and partners. We always work with local food producers or keep things in-house. For instance, as part of our “Airbridge” program, we offer international visitors an experience that touches everything about the local culture, including eating delicious food.
We also share Italian cuisine through family-style team building activities and at events around the world. Those are the best times to bond and celebrate our culture with the team members from all the departments.
Talking about event-driven culture, Out of the Box is a famous event for the coffee community promoted by La Marzocco. What is it about?
OOTB is a destination event showcasing the directions of specialty coffee and the new products, trends, and the latest technological developments. Taking place in different cities around the world (Milan in 2015, London in 2016, and Melbourne in 2017) it’s a way to connect with local communities. We welcome cross-cultural contribution from photography, music, lifestyle, cosmetics, and science. OOTB has become a community festival for everybody in the coffee industry, from importers to baristas, roasters, and technicians.
Generally, when we think about the experience of drinking coffee in the workplace our mind goes to vending machines. How do you envision bringing specialty coffee into the work environment?
That’s a good question! To start with, I assume that amongst the leaders and executives there must be a coffee enthusiast or someone interested in learning more about coffee. Otherwise, it will be unlikely for them to understand the pleasure of drinking a good coffee with teammates. Talking about the types of equipment, there are some good coffee machines that could substitute vending machines.
Of course, a machine is not the only factor that counts for a good coffee. The coffee grinder, the “miscela,” and the skills of the barista are all fundamental ingredients that make a cup of coffee. If a leader, a business owner wants to approach the world of specialty coffee and offer it to their team, my tip is to hire a coffee expert who can advise on the suitable machines, blends, and brewing methods given the work environment and the size of the team.
As espresso machine makers, coffee is our (work)life. However, regardless of the industry, any organization could use our social approach to drinking coffee. We could provide plenty of examples to show how it works optimally with people.
So, do I! Thank you, Giada for sharing with us more about La Marzocco. If you missed part I of the interview, in which we talked about corporate well-being and explored the new HQ near Florence, you can read it here. For a wider look into La Marzocco, visit their website and find links to social media below.
WE Factory is fascinated and engaged with the possibilities of bridging social gastronomy and well-being for work environments. Shall you and your organization be interested in partnering with us, have a look at our Workplace services.
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