Early Lavazza Product Line
Seattle?!? No, a vintage Lavazza cart in Turin,
(US$ 1 = Lire 1,700)
To summarize the story of Luigi Lavazza S.p.A., one would have to retrace many steps in the history of a family which, from generation to generation over nearly a century, has devoted all of its energy and commercial talent to coffee.
Lavazza's origins go back to 1895, when Luigi Lavazza purchased a little grocery store, Paissa Olivero, in the old commecial section of Torino (Northern Italy). The purchase was made for 26,000 Italian Lire, or about US$ 20.
In those times such stores operated as both retail and production outlets. The coffee, sold among thousands of other products, was bought raw, and then roasted and blended according to very personal recipes depending on the cutomers' requests. This activity soon attracted the interest of Luigi Lavazza, who had already demonstrated considerable knowledge and skills in the processing of blends, including both the quantities of the ingredients and the degree of roasting.The firm's expansion from retailing to wholesale trade (1910), the joining of Luigi's three sons Mario, Beppe and Pericle (during the First World War), and the progressive narrowing of the production range, marked the first steps of an irresistible commercial growth, which enabled the Firm to acquire a notable position at regional level. The little grocery store became in 1927 the modern Luigi Lavazza S.p.A. that, after the forced stop caused by the League of Nations' economic sanctions, by the prohibition on the importation of coffee, and by the outbreak of the Second World War, finally came to specialize in the production of coffee. The first Lavazza logo was then created and the annual production reached 1,000 tons.
In 1956 Mario left Lavazza to his two brothers (their father, Luigi, had retired in 1935). Meanwhile, as the coffee market grew throughout Northern Italy, the building of a new plant (at Corso Novara, today the site of the Firm's Headquarters) became necessary.
In the early sixties, and with the processing cycle now completely mechanical, Lavazza introduced the first vacuum-packed ground coffee suitable for long conservation. These enormously successful years led Lavazza to increase productions and open a new plant at Settimo Torinese.
With distribution covering the entire nation, the product range was completely redone with new packaging techniques using the vacuum preservation of aluminium and plastic packing (notable cheaper than tins).
In the seventies and early eighties, having invested in marketing and an incredibly successful string of printed and televised ads (who can forget Carmencita and Caballero, Nino Manfredi and the motto "Lavazza, piu' lo mandi giu', piu' ti tira su" ("The more you drink it down, the more it picks you up"), Lavazza began its conquest of European and World markets. In 1982, the first Lavazza subsidiary was opened in France, followed by others in Germany, Great Britain, Austria, and the United States (the latter in 1989).
In 1996, Lavazza's yearly production was well over 100,000 tons of roasted coffee, and the Firm's employees had grown to more than 1600. Lavazza's tradition of devoting special attention to the development of new techniques and products (see their clever and tremendously popular Espresso Point system), make the Company both uniquely dynamic and sensitive to the customer's requests.
Luigi Lavazza S.p.A. is the undisputed market leader of espresso in Italy, with almost 45% of the total coffee market (and 75% of Italian families who buy Lavazza).