from Italy to Germany
across Europe with us
After lunch, before turning in or for a quick pick-me-up in between, today people enjoy espresso at any time of day and for any occasion. It has become a normal part of life. J.J. Darboven had a hand in that. 50 or so years ago, good old filter coffee was the only kind of coffee you could find in Germany.
Espresso was something you drank only during the obligatory holiday in Italy – after coaxing your VW beetle over the Alps, you stopped on Lake Garda for a well-earned gelato and espresso. But in the 70s Albert Darboven had the idea of bringing the Italian speciality served in tiny cups to the German market and offering it as an alternative to the filter coffee that, beloved though it was, was also starting to seem a bit boring.
To implement this plan, first we sent our coffee roasters to Bologna to learn the high art of espresso roasting from North Italian masters. A major difference is that in Italy, coffee beans are roasted substantially longer at around 225°C. This makes them much darker and pushes the fats to the surface, thus giving them a characteristic sheen.
Once our coffee roasters had internalized all the processes and refinements of Italian roasting, and the Italian roasters had gained an understanding of German expectations as to the quality of the raw materials, they began to work together closely to develop roasting profiles for the German market. We started supplying espresso to the first German restaurants and cafés.
What started as a small test quickly turned into a triumphal procession for espresso. For in the late 70s and early 80s Germany was home not just to Germans, but also to large numbers of Italian immigrant workers. Many of them had gone on to open ice-cream cafés and pizzerias, and jumped at the chance to offer a genuine coffee speciality from their homeland.
No less importantly, Germans were glad to have a change from regular old filter coffee. The second wave of coffee reached Germany, for with espresso now available, Italian milk-based specialities like cappuccino and latte macchiato began to appear on menus as well.
In the midst of all this, in 1987, we decided to no longer import espresso, but to make our own locally, of course with original Italian roasting techniques. This marks the birth of Alfredo Espresso – a brand that was launched with the goal of spreading Italian dolce vita in the German F&B business, and also demonstrating that there is the right espresso for every taste. We started with four varieties – Cremazurro, Caffè, Tipo Bar und Super Bar – that didn’t just offer a wide variety of flavour profiles, but also a cross section of Italian gusto.
Because just as German beers differ from one city to the next, so too does Italian espresso vary from region to region. Reflecting this, each Alfredo Espresso variety stands for a city in Italy and the espresso enjoyed there. Now three more varieties have been added to the initial four, so that the product range currently represents seven Italian cities: Palermo (Cremazzuro), Turin (Futuro), Rom (Decaffeinato), Venedig (Caffè), Florenz (Tipo Bar), Bologna (Super Bar) und Mailand (Primus Omnium).
Over the years we grew not just our range of flavours, but also our markets. From Germany, Alfredo Espresso expanded into Poland, the Netherlands, Ireland and many other European countries, not least thanks to the attractive combination of original Italian roast culture and dependable German quality. Alfredo Espresso hasn’t merely won over restaurateurs throughout Europe, it has also impressed international barista stars who often use Alfredo Espresso for their competitions. This confirms to us, and especially Albert Darboven, that we took the right steps back in the 70s.