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Nicola Fabbri unveils the Italian Wave of coffee-based drinks in this exclusive interview

Nicola Fabbri

MILAN – We often talk about waves when we refer to the biggest changes in the way coffee is made and consumed. Not surprisingly, the Third Wave is the one that is always associated with the movement regarding Specialties. During Sigep 2020, which took place in Rimini, Nicola Fabbri, managing director of Fabbri 1905, announced another wave: the Italian Wave.

In fact, the Bologna-based company’s experience in the production of syrups made in Italy and their incomparable characteristics, as well as the enhancement and spreading of the Italian culture of coffee in the world, becomes the basis for the launch of a new development strategy that capitalises on quality, creativity and Italian know-how.

Dr Nicola Fabbri, can you tell us about the new insights for the future of the Italian coffee-based beverage and how you had this idea?

“It is the result of numerous years of work in this field. We have always been active in the world of coffee, thanks also to projects and collaborations alongside various large companies over the years, working together to promote the Made in Italy brand throughout the world.

During a masterclass held by the great coffee artist Gianni Cocco, it clearly emerged that we represent the Italian Wave. Italians are, by definition, professionals loved world over for their imagination when working with food ingredients. Italian cuisine is recognised as the most popular in the world, but not just for the food: our Country is also the leader for beverages, blends and cocktails, fields in which we can boast a long history and tradition.

Still today, some of the most famous bartenders are Italian and, in London, the capital of cocktails and fashions, these professionals are very influential. The importance of the Made in Italy brand for beverages in general is indisputable, but it is even more so when it comes to coffee, a product that has travelled throughout the world, starting with Italian espresso.

In fact, “our” little cup of coffee was the basis for the success of a large chain like Starbucks, which began with the Italian tradition and developed and promoted an all-American way of drinking coffee, with aromas, the use of syrup, the infusion of coffee beans in different aromas, such as hazelnut and caramel.

AS FABBRI 1905, WE HAVE BEEN THE FORERUNNERS IN THIS FIELD

In fact, we have been producing syrups right from the start, aiming to create blended coffees to offer in the United States and then, more than 20 years ago, we brought this trend to our country, allowing Italians to get to know products like the marocchino or the mocaccino, true coffee cocktails that are now experiencing incredible growth.

Gianni Cocco and Nicola Fabbri

In recent years, through our Brand Ambassadors and experts, we have developed our own unique expertise, our own taste and our own signature in creating these recipes for the world of coffee.

It is a world that also includes tea: in fact, Fabbri has been present in China for 20 years and this long period has allowed us to “absorb” new fashions linked to drinking and consuming this product, from iced teas or the so-called Bubble Tea, one of the latest trends in the field that, perhaps not everyone knows, is made with Fabbri syrups.

In fact, from China where it was created, the new passion for Bubble Tea, so popular with young people, has also brought the Fabbri products, already chosen and used in Chinese bars and cafés, back “home” to Italy, to the new bars and concept stores that serve it.

On the strength of these experiences, we would therefore like to take the Italian point of view in these two sectors into the world: mixing of coffee-based drinks, both hot and cold, and those based on tea. In a nutshell, we would like to take our influence, our company, our Italian Wave into the world”.

What characterises the ingredients produced by your company?

“Our way of making syrups is unique: Italian syrups, and ours in particular, are unparalleled. They are rich in pulp, in aromas and in the immediately recognisable combination of flavours.

Capitalising on the quality of the product and the experience and creativity that we have acquired, this year we are launching a project in Italy, called “Alta Cafetteria Fabbri” (High-End Coffee by Fabbri), a very elaborate and elegant recipe of proposals based on coffee and tea, developed by Vittorio Agosti and Gianni Cocco, two of the top coffee experts in Italy.

This project will kick off in the most important ice cream parlours, pastry shops and coffee shops in our country and then expand to the rest of the world, as the first act of this “Italian Wave”. We are therefore witnessing the birth, or rather the baptism of this new wave that will allow a typically Italian way of living and enjoying pleasant moments to spread to all the latitudes …and with them, our best products and professionals”.

Nicola Fabbri and his employees in front of the gigantic reproduction of the iconic ceramic jar of Amarena Fabbri placed on the roof of the company’s reception building

So, is this a real turning point, like the Third Wave, but with an Italian heart?

“Fabbri1905 produces everything in Italy. We are well-known in 120 countries throughout the world, with our syrups and products for professional mixing. The Amarena cherry is a symbol of Italianness and an icon of Italian cuisine. In fact, its ceramic jar was recently exhibited at the MoMa in New York.

Amarena also goes very well with coffee-based drinks. Three years ago, Vittorio Agosti created a series of signature drinks based on amarena cherry and coffee, culminating in a cocktail made of Amarena bitter aperitif, coffee, cinnamon berry and a Fabbri Amarena for decoration.

This is another way of taking our coffee out into the world, highlighting Italian artistic creativity. It looks like a revolution and, in fact, this is exactly what we are aiming for. It is one more way of introducing Italian flavour to the world. We hope to have the support of the entire sector”.

Nicola Fabbri, do you already know how what the conclusion of the project will be?

“Obviously I don’t, but I think that this is the beauty of it. Italy has the ability to generate ideas – as can be seen, for example, in the idea for a coffee and pastry shop designed for parents and children together with the bar presented by Gianni Cocco here at Sigep – which is hard to find anywhere else in the world, where our ideas are often simply copied successfully. This time we will try to expand the idea, while remaining protagonists.

Undoubtedly, it would be precious for us to have the support of the country, on multiple levels, including political. Historically, the world of the sweet foods has always been fairly neglected, also because it is made up of numerous small entities that are unlikely to join together to create one voice.

Let’s not forget, however, that confectionery is one of the jewels of our Made in Italy brand, also because we boast an unparalleled wealth of recipes and traditions. There are 8000 municipalities in Italy, each with its own sweet speciality: a foundation that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. And then there is dessert, which has, alas, always been pushed to the bottom of the list. Nobody considers dessert to be the most important element of a dinner – yet it is… because when you get up from the table, that’s what you remember first.

Carlotta Fabbri posing beside the iconic jar ceramic that was recently exhibited at the MoMa in New York

Our final hope is that this Italian Wave in the world of coffee will become a driving force, encouraging people to talk about Italian beverages and desserts throughout the world and pushing the country’s system to focus greater attention on this vital segment of the national economy”.