11 min

#016: Gaggia Espresso Machines had a problem The Empire Builders Podcast

    • Entrepreneurship

What to do with the oily film that formed on the top of their espresso. The result built an empire and even changed how fine espresso is judged.  This is a lesson of overcoming resistance to new innovations.



David Young:



Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor which is... Well it's us. But we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those.



[Armadura Roof Ad]







David Young:



Stephen, a little sleepy this afternoon as we record this. And thinking that I might need a little cup of espresso, just a little pick me up, just a little jolt. What are you thinking?



Stephen Semple :



I'm thinking that's what we need to do. And we're going to take a trip back to September 5th, 1938.



David Young:



For our espresso?



Stephen Semple :



For our espresso. That is when... Now I have to apologize because if we have any Italians, they're just probably going to cringe when I say this name. Because the modern espresso machine was invented by Giovanni Achille Gaggia. Now I probably butchered that name, but that's as close as I can get. Before that time, how espresso was made was it was boiled and cooked. And what made this machine different and it became the father of the modern espresso machine is it made espresso under pressure. And so it literally changed the way espresso is made, looks, and tastes because one of the results of making it that way was you actually get that little cream on the top of the espresso, which did not exist before that.



David Young:



Coffee suds, kind of.



Stephen Semple :



Yeah. And Achille literally changed the way we look at espresso, and changed the way espresso is graded and how coffee snobs look and describe espresso. Because when it first came out what people were doing was spooning that little cream off the top of it. They're like, "Oh my God, what?" They would take their cup and they would scoop all of that off.



David Young:



And throwing it away.



Stephen Semple :



And throwing it away.



David Young:



They were saying, "Ooh, there's a foam on top of my coffee."



Stephen Semple :



Yeah. They were literally saying, "What is this scummy foam on the top of the coffee? And what's wrong with it." Now, normally what a company would do in that manner is choose to educate their customer, right? We've seen this over and over again working with companies have new technology or new innovations, "Let's educate the consumer on this. Let's let's tell them how much better it is." Achille decided to do something different. He decided to speak to the heart, not to the head. So guess what he did. He gave the foam a name. He romanticized it. He called it crema caffe naturale. Or natural coffee cream, which today we call la crema.



David Young:



La crema. And before that they looked at it like it was the same stuff you get when you boil a chicken and this foamy stuff rises to the top of... "Ooh, get rid of that."



Stephen Semple :



Yeah. Well, to the point today, that if you're competing and grading coffees, one of the things that gets graded is if there is no la crema on the top of the coffee there's something wrong.



David Young:



Ain't that great?



Stephen Semple :



Yeah. In fact this is a bit of a problem for Starbucks because Starbucks uses Arabica beans rather than Robusta beans, and Arabica beans naturally don't have as much of the crema.



David Young:



Oh my gosh.



Stephen Semple :



Yeah. It went from this negative to this positive by giving it this name.



David Young:



And then people want it.



Stephen Semple :



And then people want it.



David Young:

What to do with the oily film that formed on the top of their espresso. The result built an empire and even changed how fine espresso is judged.  This is a lesson of overcoming resistance to new innovations.



David Young:



Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor which is... Well it's us. But we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those.



[Armadura Roof Ad]







David Young:



Stephen, a little sleepy this afternoon as we record this. And thinking that I might need a little cup of espresso, just a little pick me up, just a little jolt. What are you thinking?



Stephen Semple :



I'm thinking that's what we need to do. And we're going to take a trip back to September 5th, 1938.



David Young:



For our espresso?



Stephen Semple :



For our espresso. That is when... Now I have to apologize because if we have any Italians, they're just probably going to cringe when I say this name. Because the modern espresso machine was invented by Giovanni Achille Gaggia. Now I probably butchered that name, but that's as close as I can get. Before that time, how espresso was made was it was boiled and cooked. And what made this machine different and it became the father of the modern espresso machine is it made espresso under pressure. And so it literally changed the way espresso is made, looks, and tastes because one of the results of making it that way was you actually get that little cream on the top of the espresso, which did not exist before that.



David Young:



Coffee suds, kind of.



Stephen Semple :



Yeah. And Achille literally changed the way we look at espresso, and changed the way espresso is graded and how coffee snobs look and describe espresso. Because when it first came out what people were doing was spooning that little cream off the top of it. They're like, "Oh my God, what?" They would take their cup and they would scoop all of that off.



David Young:



And throwing it away.



Stephen Semple :



And throwing it away.



David Young:



They were saying, "Ooh, there's a foam on top of my coffee."



Stephen Semple :



Yeah. They were literally saying, "What is this scummy foam on the top of the coffee? And what's wrong with it." Now, normally what a company would do in that manner is choose to educate their customer, right? We've seen this over and over again working with companies have new technology or new innovations, "Let's educate the consumer on this. Let's let's tell them how much better it is." Achille decided to do something different. He decided to speak to the heart, not to the head. So guess what he did. He gave the foam a name. He romanticized it. He called it crema caffe naturale. Or natural coffee cream, which today we call la crema.



David Young:



La crema. And before that they looked at it like it was the same stuff you get when you boil a chicken and this foamy stuff rises to the top of... "Ooh, get rid of that."



Stephen Semple :



Yeah. Well, to the point today, that if you're competing and grading coffees, one of the things that gets graded is if there is no la crema on the top of the coffee there's something wrong.



David Young:



Ain't that great?



Stephen Semple :



Yeah. In fact this is a bit of a problem for Starbucks because Starbucks uses Arabica beans rather than Robusta beans, and Arabica beans naturally don't have as much of the crema.



David Young:



Oh my gosh.



Stephen Semple :



Yeah. It went from this negative to this positive by giving it this name.



David Young:



And then people want it.



Stephen Semple :



And then people want it.



David Young:

11 min