In the hazy afterglow of the Milan Coffee Festival (and a bustling after-party at their brand-spanking new Art & Caffeine Flagship Store), espresso machine pioneer Faema was on my mind.
With the emblematic Duomo of Milan eternally bound to the company logo, Faema started its operations in the city of Milan in 1945 and shortly thereafter started producing its first espresso machines. The brand lays claim to an extensive list of technological innovations, none bigger than being the first coffee machine with a volumetric pump—it allows the machine to maintain a specific amount of pressure (nine bars of atmospheric pressure, to be specific), which is an important variable in producing a consistent espresso. The company was also among the first to acknowledge that intrinsic bond between professional cycling and espresso culture in 1956—from there to modern-day sponsorships and community involvment, Faema has long been an active player in the waves of coffee’s subcultural revolution.
Shortly after the festival I toured the brand’s impressive new flagship HQ. I arrived on a Monday and was greeted by the store’s in-house coffee specialist, coffee trainer, and hospitality ambassador Angelo Sportelli.
Gesturing to join him, Sportelli posted up in front of an all-white Faema E71E espresso machine featuring a rear copper panel with an inlay of the “Art & Caffeine” logo, and invited me to pick from a selection of five different coffees to dial in together. I thought for just a second that it might be a little late in the afternoon for me to taste a dozen shots of espresso, but then suddenly couldn’t resist the urge to indulge. I found myself hypnotized by the overarching third eye above the words in the giant mural on the wall: “Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation.”
As we pulled through a half-hopper of shots, a few members of the marketing team joined us in assessing how some of the new features of the E71E affect flavors of espresso extraction. In between sips and pensively staring into demitasse cups, they started to explain some of the features of the campus and the upcoming classes.
In just the following three weeks after my visit, the Flagship hosted a holiday-themed latte art throwdown, a master class with 2018 Italian Latte Art Champion Manuela Fensore, and a two day master class with 2018 World Barista Champion Agnieszka Rojewska.
The building was as stunning as in the day as it had been at night, but the daylight and lack of partygoers unveiled the incredible depth of the space. The first floor is fully equipped with a customized Giesen W1 for coffee roasting courses, several espresso performance bars, a multi-purpose bar equipped for coffee mixology innovation, and practicing alternative brewing methods. You could of course find more than a couple ways to lounge in between all the caffeine.
Rossella Musarra, Faema coffee specialist and sales promoter, was in the background practicing her routines for the 2019 Coffee in Good Spirits competition. When a large group of guests arrived to visit the space and took over Sportelli’s focus, I took it as a cue to see if I could get my hands on one of Musarra’s presumably delicious drink trials. After all, the sun was setting, and an aperitivo was on the horizon.
I hadn’t considered that these drinks would be secret recipes for an upcoming competition, but as usual, a little spark of Italian hospitality illuminated my moment of potential disappointment. Musarra took time from her routine to whip up her decadent “Improved Irish Coffee” for me in a to-go cup just in time to head back out into the cool Milanese air.
If you’re visiting Italy for coffee experiences, today’s modern scene will have you spoilt for choice. But if Milan in particular is your destination, well—make Faema’s stunning new Art & Caffeine Flagship store your first stop before exploring the rest of this beautiful and historic city.
Alexander Gable (@mrgable) is a freelance journalist based in Milan. Read more Alexander Gable for Sprudge.
Disclosure: Faema is an advertising partner on Sprudge Media Network.