Lavazza, Wimbledon, and the world’s biggest coffee shop

It has been suggested that Lavazza’s involvement in this year’s Wimbledon tennis tournament might count as the biggest centrally-managed single-site coffee operation in the world – it will involve serving over a million coffees in two weeks.

Lavazza Wimbeldon stencil 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sheer breadth of the promotion is remarkable. There will be 60 Lavazza service points staffed by more than 600 people, working 200 machines – all of these staff will have gone through training at Lavazza immediately before the event.

The supporting advertising campaign has attracted vast attention because it features real Wimbledon tennis officials drinking Lavazza – these officials have never before been allowed to get involved in such a commercial project.

Even the mother of the UK’s big hope, Judy Murray, is likely to join Giuseppe Lavazza on a panel as a Lavazza coffee ambassador.

There is a rather clever Wimbledon stencil for the ‘dusting’ of coffee drinks, which depicts crossed racquets and the slogan ‘Lavazza for Wimbledon’. It is not, we have discovered, trick photography – the stencil actually exists.

(There is also, we feel duty-bound to report, a slightly-silly online contest in which consumers are asked to create ‘a new tradition’ by creating a match between coffee drinks and contemporary British customs, such as drinking a macchiato through a moustache, to win Wimbledon tickets, the limited-edition version of the A Modo Mio Wimbledon capsule machine or iTunes cards.)

Quite typically, the British arm of Lavazza has been perfectly happy to sweep away the hype and PR-speak, and talk about the practicalities of the event. The media machine has said that there will be 600 baristas serving a million perfect coffees, which marketing director Barry Kither translates into practical trade terms:

“Yes, we did serve over a million coffees last year. Yes, there will be 600 people serving, and yes, we will have trained them all, even though we have to bring in a team of 15 from Italy to go with our own core of qualified trainers. To call the 600 all ‘baristas’ might be going a little far, because while the traditional espresso machines are all manned by trained baristas, there is a vast number of bulk-brew machines which we have to monitor, but which don’t require the same training. There are 200 machines in all – the hospitality areas have A Modo Mios (the Lavazza capsule machines), and the other areas have everything from bulk brewers to bean-to-cups. We know that the capsule machines will be the least of our problems!”

And yet, there is an almost evangelical element of this – Lavazza is actually sending trained coffee workers back out into the wider catering trade, which must be helping to develop the cause of decent coffee in the bigger world.

“The interesting thing about the staff training is that Wimbledon always gets the very best catering staff. These are the absolute cream of the catering trade, and they’re a pleasure to train… and some of the ones who come out best in barista training are those who have never before had their hands on a coffee machine!

“But this can’t be far off being the biggest coffee shop in the world – this truly is a massive circus, and the coffee outlets range from the staff canteens to the players’ lounge, which is quite wonderful, to the queues outside.”

That is a reference to one of the most unusual service areas. The queues at Wimbledon, particularly the ones full of hopeful non-ticket holders, are themselves known worldwide… so Lavazza has its own arrangements for those who have not yet made it into the ground.

“The Q café is for the queue, and there actually is a counter and machines. We either take the people a coffee, or we will mark their place and take them to our café for a free coffee. This year, we shall also be giving samples, which you are not allowed to do inside the ground – but this is outside. The famous queue is now quite a civilised procedure – it’s held in the golf club, and it is actually a nice queue!”

It has become customary for Lavazza to create a special drink for the event. This again, says Barry Kither, is something which has to be approached on a practical brewing basis, and not be carried away with the PR hype.

“The special drinks are only served at a couple of outlets. We have learned a lot about these things – last year, someone created a signature drink in the Wimbledon colours, and we had to explain that you cannot hope to deliver a drink like that in one of the busiest catering environments you’ll ever see… some drinks are a training-room trick.”

The one which actually will be served is the Lavazza Cappuccino Special 2013.

This involves a ‘cappuccino mousse’ (Lavazza has been keen on its coffee mousses ever since it did a series of experiments on them with the noted chef Ferran Adria). This mousse is pre-prepared (cream, espresso and gum syrup) and kept to hand in a fridge.

The Cappuccino Special is a single espresso, 80ml steamed milk, a topping of the mousse, and a small dusting of cocoa powder. Preparation time is reckoned to be 45 seconds.

This story is by Boughtons Coffee House magazine, and also appears on the Caffe Culture news portal, the news arm of the coffee trade’s main exhibition: http://www.caffeculture.com

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