Lavazza Vice President Marco Lavazza says only one thought came to mind when the Italian brand was given the opportunity to become the official coffee partner of the Australian Open.
“There had been a jewel in the crown missing, and we could finally make it complete. We wanted to be the first food and beverage brand to partner with all four Grand Slam tennis tournaments – Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open – and now we have,” Marco told BeanScene.
To mark Lavazza’s inaugural partnership of the Australian Open, Lavazza Vice Presidents and cousins Giuseppe Lavazza and Marco have made their way to Melbourne for the tournament. This is their first visit in more than four years.
Marco said he is pleased the Australian Open is now an integral part of Lavazza’s new international development strategy and vision for the Australian market, which includes boosting annual sales and presence in the restaurant and café industry in the next five years.
“We have invested heavily in the Australian market, from operations to distributors. It’s all part of our strategy to hold a 70-per-cent market share outside of Italy, and to become the number one coffee brand in Australia. We’re right on track. The Australian market is our fourth-biggest region in dollar terms, and we’re confident that will rise. We see huge potential and opportunities here, starting with our partnership of the Australian Open,” Marco said.
Out of all the four major Open tournaments, Marco said the Australian Open is unique in its own way.
“The French Open has charm, Wimbledon has tradition, and the US Open is about the crowds. But here at the Australian Open I think it’s all about quality. The event is exceptionally well organised and the hospitality is at such a high standard,” Marco said. “Most importantly it’s an opportunity to connect with the community for two weeks and represent our brand and products.”
From 18 – 31 January visitors to the Australian Open at Melbourne Park can indulge in Lavazza’s range of hot and cold beverages including a cold brew coffee topped with creamy sorbetto, and a tiramisu dessert served at more than 30 on-site outlets.
“It was important that we use quality milk to pair with our products – I know how important that is to Australians – but we also had to develop a menu that could withstand Melbourne’s high summer temperatures. We wanted to offer something chilled and refreshing, and something that still enhanced our signature coffee flavour,” Marco said.
Last year was a special year for the Lavazza family, celebrating 120 years since Luigi Lavazza founded the company in 1895. It was also the year Lavazza released their first sustainability report, and introduced a 100 per cent compostable coffee capsule.
Additionally in 2015, Lavazza became the first coffee company to reach outer space, after Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti became the first person to drink a cup of Lavazza coffee in orbit.
“Wherever we can find opportunities to express our values and share our pride for quality, we will. Coffee is not rocket science, but we’re always looking to uncover something new and unexpected – like creating the first espresso in space. To defy gravity and create history gave us an immense sense of pride,” Marco said. “There’s always more we can do, and more importantly, there’s always more we can learn. The possibilities are endless.”
The supply of Lavazza product in Australia was managed by the Valmorbida family until 1 September 2015. After more than 30 years, Lavazza Australia was announced as a new subsidiary to the Lavazza Group, and took over business operations in Australia.
“Our team in Australia is young, hungry and driven, but we still have a long way to go,” Marco said.
“We have built relationships with professionals who are respectful of our strategy and heritage, but it is important that we were no seen as a large multinational with a family background. We want Lavazza to be seen as a brand that can get in touch with the needs of our customers.”
Marco said the company’s decision to start roasting in Australia and alter its product range to meet Australia’s discerning preferences, was key to this strategy.
“Like wine, coffee can never be 100 per cent consistent because everybody has their own slight preference. We experimented by offering three very different types of blends here, including a 100 per cent Arabica blend, 100 per cent Robusta and a 50/50 combination of both. Each is largely popular and no more successful than the other, indicating that preference is personal,” Marco said.
“The question I get asked most is: ‘What’s the best coffee?’” It’s like asking: What’s the best brand of tennis racquet? The answer is always going to be personal. Our job is to find the perfect raw material, which we research and source from more than 30 countries around the world, roast it in different ways, and find the best way to drink it, whether it be as espresso, filter or capsule. It has to suit your own preference, but continually meet our standards of quality,” Marco said. “That’s something we will never compromise on no matter how coffee prices fluctuate.”
After a brief visit to Melbourne dividing his time between business meetings and the tennis, Marco will today fly home to Torino, Italy.
Although he is disappointed to be missing the Australian Open Final next weekend, Marco predicts a close battle between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic: “Novak is all about the power of the mind, and Roger’s advantage is his class, passion and history – just like Lavazza.”
Photographer: Scott Ehler