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Superbrands case studies - Gaggia

Think cafe culture, think coffee, think definitive machine: for many there is no alternative -- only Gaggia.

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Modern coffee-making methods owe much to Achille Gaggia. Until 1938, when he patented the first modern machine, espresso relied on blasting coffee grounds with steam. Gaggia's ingenious invention forced water to flow over the grounds at high pressure, producing the "crema", unique to espresso. It revolutionised the way in which coffee was made.

Since 1947, when the company was founded, Gaggia has been renowned for making consistently high quality machines and is widely acknowledged to be a leading authority within the industry; the distinctive red and white logo associated globally with authentic Italian coffee. It was during the 1970s -- a time when bar quality espresso was growing in popularity -- that Gaggia produced its first domestic machine. The Baby Gaggia helped to propel the brand to the forefront of the domestic machine market, a position it has retained since, despite robust competition.

But Gaggia's pole position owes nothing to chance. Every machine is manufactured at the Robecco sul Naviglio factory in Milan -- Italy's style capital. Each model combines cutting-edge technology with traditional design. By allowing its design and performance to speak for itself, Gaggia has created an understated, yet highly effective, marketing strategy.

But it takes a forward thinking brand to recognise that in an evolving world nothing remains static. Coffee, like many commodities today, comes in various manifestations: beans, ground form, pods and now, capsules.

Capsules offer an innovative way of producing quality coffee, without the mess. Most traditional machines, while able to cope with ground coffee or pods could only, until recently, use capsules in closed systems (machines that take capsules from just one roaster). Gaggia's ethos of embracing change encouraged the brand to explore ways of combining an open coffee system with capsules, to extend consumer choice and enable customers to select precisely what went into each machine.

To meet this task it adapted two of its models with extraction capabilities that best utilised the Caffitaly System -- a unique way of packaging coffee in capsules. The capsules are structured to allow water to fully irrigate each individual grain, guaranteeing a consistent flow of high quality coffee. The optimum amount of finely ground coffee is vacuum-sealed into each disposable, ready-to-use capsule, in order to create a cup of genuine Italian espresso.

But for those who still prefer to grind their own coffee in the time honoured tradition -- and Gaggia recognise that many do -- the capsule system can be converted to accommodate loose coffee with a simple kit. These fit easily on to all Gaggia machines, irrespective of whether the machine is new or 30 years-old.

As a brand Gaggia continues to move forward. Initiatives such as the Caffe Academie -- offering young people hands-on work experience and follow-on support within the coffee trade and related industries -- demonstrate its commitment to development and evolution. The scheme has attracted attention from leading restaurants, such as Carluccios and Pizza Express, who acknowledge the long-term benefits of providing stimulating training opportunities, within the marketplace, for young people.

Gaggia epitomises outstanding design and continuing innovation and while it keeps on producing quality machines and accessories, the UK's growing love affair with coffee shows no sign of abating.

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