Caffè Espresso Academy of Fiesole: museum and training

The La Marzocco project takes place in the old professional coffee machine production workshop in the Florentine hills. A piece of Italian business history that aims to show the way to the future of coffee

During the pandemic (the first inauguration dates back to spring 2020), the project is dedicated to the coffee culture founded on the Florentine hills, in Fiesole, from kl. La Marzocco. An international center that is also a center for research, education and dissemination, and therefore it has been renamed Academy of Espresso Coffee. The building is the old Piano San Bartolo workshop, where the company was founded in 1927 on the initiative of Bambi brothers – today world leader in the production of advanced coffee machines (the first patent for the horizontal boiler machine dates back to 1939, handle machines arrived in the 1950s) – moved the company in 1961. An example of disused industrial archeology since 2009 – when a new move moved the headquarters of the more efficient and modern facility in Scarperia – rebuilt thanks to an investment of 6 million euros to accommodate the many activities at the academy, which for some weeks has also been open for public visits (guided tours only Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) .


The Fiesole hub is first and foremost place of study and place of experiment: The start of a research project that was promoted together with the plant neurobiologist goes back to 2020 Stefano Mancuso, Director of PNAT (Academic Spin-off from the University of Florence) and ENEA, the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development. The project, which will be completed in 2023, aims to analyze the coffee plant in all its components to propose new, more sustainable cultivation methods. Then there is the project’s dissemination mission, delegated to the museum’s itinerary, including contemporary art installations useful for explaining the world of Marzocco, videos and panels to deepen the origins and transformation processes of the raw material, interactive aids involving the five senses and even though a greenhouseentrusted to the care of the tropical agronomist Massimo Battaglia (which is also responsible for the Academy School), which reproduces the conditions in a typical plantation, with Arabica coffee plants, banana trees and other tropical species. In addition to producing coffee regularly, the plants help filter the complex’s fine dust; visually, the greenhouse in its glass cube presents itself to the eye in the center of the exhibition space, which winds through professional machines, maps and a timeline indicating the most significant dates in the history of coffee and the Florentine society. There is no shortage of contemporary art with a large, engaging, magnetic installation by artist Charles Morgan (London, 1951). One of his kinetic works of art, which in this case serves in a curious way to tell about the production processes and the company’s supply chain.


Among the memorabilia in the collection is also the van of the brand La Marzocco, which was once used to show the company’s machine samples to baristas. And speaking of the history of the past, it was also believed that it evoked the atmosphere of one Italian bar from the sixties: the large counter, the bottles of the time, a La Marzocco GS, the payphone and a mix created to the taste of the time, available for tasting. The museum also includes an area dedicated to temporary exhibitions: Travel to the land of coffee is the title of the first exhibited project, stemming from the collaboration between the Museu do Cafè in Santos and the Brazilian Embassy in Rome. Exhibited the story of Italian emigration to Brazil, which in the last decades of the nineteenth century contributed greatly to the development and success of Brazilian coffin use.
Last but not least, and indeed central to the project’s goals, is the education chapter. Besides laboratories (for analysis of green coffee, roasting, sensory analysis and tasting, extraction, creation of ceramic objects associated with the world of the bar) and Grand Bar for training, the Academy offers specialization in collaboration with universities, organizations and institutions, to contribute to dissemination of expertise on coffee culture . Among them graduate degree UniVerso Caffè, with the University of Florence, which aims to train new professionals to be included in the coffee industry and in those associated with it: the first edition, which started in January 2022, has just been completed. Since March last year, SCA and CQI courses, internationally recognized courses for training and certification of coffee have also been offered. While the so-called are dedicated to amateurs and enthusiasts experience, one-hour mini-courses that allow a first approach to a decidedly more complex world than the ordinary imaginary rooted in Italy suggests: from cupping to Latte Art, from the ABC of espresso extraction to the basics of roasting and “processing”, the processing of coffee. The organization form is filled in by Emporium with merchandising, professional equipment and books about coffee, and the library (by appointment it is also possible to consult the company’s historical archive). Next door (or rather, in the basement of the structure), the spirit of the place has been reincarnated in Officine Fratelli Bambi, who regains the company’s origins by producing custom-made and handmade series machines.
At the gateway to the Tuscan capital, the Academy only confirms the role of guiding lighthouse that Florence has played in recent years in rehabilitating the coffee culture of Italy. In this connection, we mention the work done in the city of Francesco Sanapo with Ditta Artigianale (fresh from yet another opening at Lungarno) and the latest idea from the Livorno coffee bar Le Piantagioni del Caffè, promoter of the pop and hypertechnological coffee bar Fluid.

– Livia Montagnoli

Leave a Comment