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ITALIAN COFFEE IS AT HOME IN TRIESTE
Trieste’s love-affair with coffee goes back many years, to the time of the maritime trade routes.
Indeed, the port is the main hub of the coffee trade of this city in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, with exports directed more and more towards Eastern Europe and imports increasingly following routes which originate not only in Brazil, but also in India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Even in this Silicon Valley of coffee, with an annual turnover of €500 million and 900 employees, the crisis has made itself felt in recent years.
The sector has held up mainly thanks to exports, which now account for 60% of total turnover, and to the sale of certain product ranges such as portioned coffee: a line which has seen significant market growth.
Further information was supplied by Furio Suggi Liverani, head of research and innovation at Illy Caffe, one of the main companies in the local coffee district known as the Trieste Coffee Cluster.
“Exports have rescued us, in a way,” he explained, underlining that this is as true for small and medium-sized companies, which have turned to their immediate neighbours, as for larger concerns, which have chosen to expand their sphere of activity.
But was it really necessary to set up a coffee district in Trieste? And how has its establishment assisted local companies during a period of world economic crisis? Furio Suggi Liverani seemed to have no doubts: “In statutory terms, the coffee district (http://www.triestecoffeecluster.com) is a limited company, and most of its members are private businesses.
The aim of the organisation is to promote and develop the local production system.” He explained that the idea was originally conceived by six close-knit companies belonging to Confindustria. In practice, the creation of the district entailed two different stages: the first, concluded on December 15th 2006, involved the recognition of the industrial district by the regional authorities, so connecting it to other historic districts such as those for ham, knives, chairs and furniture.
The second stage, on the other hand, was completed two years later, when it was recognised that the sector was very diverse and needed to include other businesses revolving around the world of coffee: such as those concerned with marketing, publishing, or services in general.
As a result, the Trieste Coffee Cluster was recognised as a regional agency, even though it is essentially privately owned, and a journey began which was to prove highly successful. It seems, however, that Trieste is not content to rest on its laurels, and has set its sights on a particular line of products: portioned coffee.
This idea was conceived some time ago by the Trieste company, Illy, and now sales of the product are increasing at a significant pace.
As the President of the Trieste Coffee Cluster explained, this is an attractive and growing market. It involves buying a coffee machine almost at cost price, and then spending relatively more in buying the coffee pods: a system which consumers seem to appreciate both for the handiness of the single-portion delivery and for the high quality of the coffee, comparable to that served at a bar.