Luigi Lavazza born this day in history. Image: Crédito editorial: monticello /

On this day in history: Luigi Lavazza, coffee maker, born

History of Italy News

On 24th April 1859, Luigi Lavazza was born. The Turin grocer founded the Lavazza Coffee Company, one of Italy’s most famous coffee brands.

Luigi Lavazza, the Turin grocer who founded the Lavazza Coffee Company, was born on this day in 1859 in the town of Murisengo, Piedmont.

Luigi Lavazza

Life for Lavazza started as a peasant farmer in his home town. However, after some poor harvests, he left the countryside and headed for Turin. There, he found work as a shop assistant.

Starting the Lavazza brand

The Lavazza brand took seed when Luigi saved enough money to buy his own shop in Via San Tommaso, in the centre of Turin. That was in 1895. He sold groceries and provisions, including coffee. Where Lavazza differed from his competitors was by experimenting with different blends to suit the individual tastes of his customers. In a workshop at the rear of the store, he ground the beans to create the blends.  

Lavazza also travelled to Brazil to improve his knowledge of coffee. His blends were an important part of the business, leading him into wholesale as well as retail as a coffee merchant. He bought one of the first automatic roasting machines in Italy.

The farmer turned entrepreneur, formed his company Luigi Lavazza S.p.A. in 1927. Luigi, his wife Emilia, and children Mario, Pericle and Giuseppe set up the company, with share capital of 1,500,000 lire. They bought a fleet of vans and trucks and began to sell groceries all over Turin province.

The coffee side of the company’s business stalled in the 1930s after the League of Nations imposed economic sanctions against Italy: coffee beans was one of the commodities that could not be exported to Italy. All this, a consequence of the Mussolini regime’s aggression towards Abyssinia.

Related article: Alpini – cataloguer of coffee – born

Lavazza expansion

After World War II, the company effectively relaunched as a coffee specialist. Luigi had retired in 1936, but under the leadership of his sons the business boomed.

They commissioned the design of branded Lavazza packaging, introducing the distinctive logo with the large middle ‘A’. As well as paper packaging, the company introduced vacuum packed tins to preserve their product’s freshness.

Luigi died in 1949 at the age of 90. He did not witness the company’s huge expansion in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1950, the first Lavazza television commercial was aired with the slogan “Lavazza – paradiso in tazza” – “Lavazza – heaven in a cup”.

The company’s new headquarters began to produce 40,000kg of coffee per day. In 1965, Lavazza opened Europe’s largest roasting plant in Settimo Torinese.

The coffee company is still run by the Lavazza family and is the seventh largest coffee roaster in the world. It is also the retail market leader in Italy with more than 47% of sales.

Related article: Lavazza introduces solar powered coffee maker

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