La Marzocco certainly knows a thing or two about how to build a company culture that shines sociality and conviviality from the inside-out, starting with 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 speaking, 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, there must be someone who is interested or curious about coffee culture amongst the executives. Or else, it’s a challenge the whole ritual of drinking an espresso with colleagues. Not to mention that for many it’s something that doesn’t belong to the corporate world.
There are plenty of espresso machines that could substitute most widespread vending machines. Of course, a machine alone doesn’t make a great cup of coffee. The combination of the coffee grinder, the “miscela,” and the skills of the barista does.
If you are a business owner and want to learn more about specialty coffee, hire a coffee expert. They can advise you on the suitable machines, blends, and brewing methods for your workplace and the size of your team.
As espresso machine makers, coffee is our (work)life. However, any organization could use our social approach to drinking coffee regardless of the industry. We could provide plenty of examples to show how it works optimally with people.
Thank you, Giada, for telling us more about La Marzocco‘s culture. If you missed part I of the interview, in which we explored the new HQ near Florence and talked about corporate well-being, read it here. For a wider look into La Marzocco, visit their website. Find links to social media below.
At WE Factory, we bridge social gastronomy and well-being for work environments. If are interested in our services, have a look at our Workplace page.
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