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Here is why the coffee sector drives innovation and Italy is confirmed home of grinding

coffee grinding machines

by Isidoro Trovato

MILAN – An industrial sector that focused on innovation and has become a symbol of excellence of professional equipment all over the world: the grinders. The productive sector engaged in the coffee supply chain now worth over EUR 80 billion, equal to about 4% of Italian GDP, which employs 1.2 million people worldwide. The productive sector of professional grinders has a world production value of about EUR 200 million, over 50% of which is produced by Italian companies.

According to the 2019 financial statement, aggregate turnover has reached some EUR 120 million.

This is the result of the work of about 15 highly specialised companies, some of which with a century of experience, as in the case of the Eureka company from Florence which has been able to place itself at the top of Italian manufacturers in the one-hundredth anniversary of its work, reaching a turnover of EUR 34.5 million (a 38% growth compared to the previous year) and producing over 100,000 grinders, also thanks to the 5% revenues in research and development from the past few years.

Facts and figures

The leading Italian companies in this field are mainly found in the Lombardy, Veneto, and Tuscany region, and employ about 300 persons, with a spin-off four times higher than direct employees. What they all have in common is their vocation to export. All main players export over 50% of their refined Made in Italy products, wanted by the same Italian market as 90% of grinders are Italian.

Today, professional grinders have become technological, with a broad clientele also among private buyers. During the lockdown more private individuals turned to professional machines as they were not willing to give up on their quality coffee, which resulted in an increase in sales.

At professional level there is a wide tendency to spread specialty coffees, that is specialized boutiques that offer exclusive blends and filtering methods that go beyond the typical espresso.

The focus on quality has sometimes resulted in a more expensive cup of coffee in the rest of Europe and in the more mature markets as North America and the Middle East.

Comparative table: Financial statements as at 31/12/2019 of the main Italian coffee grinder manufacturers

Innovation in grinding

In the last few years, the main Italian realities in this sector have been able to anticipate the choices of coffee shops and of the main international chains in the catering sector by inventing and investing in patents, so much that grinders have become on demand and are connected to the internet, benefitting roasters and baristas who can now avoid any kind of waste.

The on demand grinder is the real revolution of recent years, and is now the most important product for sales volume worldwide. But the real success of this Italian product is the investments in research and development, together with advanced technology.

The touchscreen makes it possible to be precise to the second, the innovative design and functions allow the barista surgical precision during the grinding process.

This also benefits roasters, who gain many advantages: they can ensure never-ending quality that can be extended to a broad professional clientele and makes it possible for the consumer to enjoy such a quality experience anytime and anywhere in the world.

Today’s additional step forward is making sure each grinder can communicate with the others, and is provided with remote monitoring tools that allow one to check the machine by using a smartphone and the specific apps.

Managing a machine while not being physically in the coffee shop is the new frontier; it allows one to have full control over the grinding process and reach all the established parameters to make sure the business runs efficiently.