Lavazza Coffee Review: The Traditional Italian Coffee Brand
Lavazza is one of the top Italian coffee brands – no small feat in a country that takes espresso very seriously. Thriving for well over a century now, Lavazza is best known for carefully crafted espresso blends. However, some emerging single-origin coffee beans are now garnering praise from top pros.
In these Lavazza coffee reviews, Home Grounds looks at what to expect from Lavazza coffee beans, from flavour and quality to sustainability and brewing methods. Find out if Lavazza coffee is right for you!
- Longstanding Italian coffee brand known for traditional espresso blends
- Modern additions include single-origin beans and sustainable growing practices
- Available in many formats: whole bean, ground, single-serve pod, and instant.
Lavazza Coffee has the dark, rich, chocolatey flavour and heavy body I expect in an espresso. Delicious straight up or in a creamy latte.– Customer
The Full Lavazza Coffee Review
Lavazza is one of the quintessential Italian coffee brands. Founded as a tiny grocery store in 1895 by Luigi Lavazza, the company now boasts annual revenues upwards of $2 billion and holds 47% market share in Italy (1).
What has propelled the spectacular growth of Lavazza Coffee? How does an old school brand continue to succeed in the modern era of Third Wave coffee? We’ll explore that and much more in this detailed review.
Coffee Quality and Flavour – 3.5/5
No surprise, given its Italian heritage, Lavazza is best known for espresso roast blends. Indeed, it was the invention of the espresso machine soon after Luigi Lavazza founded his grocery that started his coffee journey (2).
The traditional Italian espresso blend is a dark or medium-dark roast, almost bittersweet flavour.
It usually contains a mix of washed or natural Arabica and washed Robusta beans, the latter of which give it earthy flavours and a rich crema. In short, it is the polar opposite of the light roast Arabica coffee currently en vogue among Third Wave coffee geeks.
But the average coffee drinker isn’t a coffee geek. And Lavazza Coffee espresso roasts taste precisely the way most people expect coffee to taste. They are rich with the flavours of bittersweet chocolate and toasted nuts; they have a heavy body and creamy mouthfeel, and they hold up well in milk-based drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.
Catering to “average coffee consumers” is not to say that the brand isn’t keeping up with the times. They have recently introduced new product lines focusing on higher-end beans. For instance, the KAFA Forest Coffee is a 100% Arabica single-origin coffee from Ethiopia, gaining recognition among expert coffee drinkers. These naturally processed coffee beans offer balanced flavours of stone fruits, honey, and nuts.
The Home Grounds team will always advise that you buy coffee beans as fresh as possible for the best coffee flavour. But that’s easier said than done if you aren’t lucky enough to live in a town with local roasters – or if you’re on a budget. If you must order online, Lavazza offers some of the best coffee beans available on Amazon.
Sustainability and the Environment – 3/5
In recent years, it has become clear that coffee companies need to consider their environmental and socioeconomic impact. To this end, Lavazza has introduced a new line of sustainable coffee, the La Reserva de ¡Tierra! Collection.
The nine coffees in the collection, including blends and single origins, are Rainforest Alliance certified or Organic. Each comes from a community involved in social responsibility projects under the management of the Lavazza Foundation.
In 1961, the 100% Arabica Gran Café Paulista was the brand’s first single-origin coffee. Now it’s back, but grown entirely on Rainforest Alliance certified farms. Showcasing the quality of naturally processed Brazilian beans, it has a sweetness that makes delicious espresso, with notes of chocolate, dried fruits, and honey.
Selection and Variety – 3.5/5
While the KAFA, ¡Tierra!, and Gran Café Paulista beans might be fresh and exciting, Lavazza is best known for its classic line-up of blends. Rather than highlighting roast level, Lavazza uses an intensity score that also considers the strength of flavour and aroma.
Here are some favourites:
- Oro: First released in 1956, this bean blend consists of 100% Arabica beans from Central America and South America. Described as a “perfect symphony” of flavour, you’ll taste fruit and floral notes with a honey sweetness. It has an intensity of 5.
- Crema e Gusto: Beloved by espresso enthusiasts worldwide, the Lavazza Crema e Gusto blend is made up of Brazilian Arabica and South East Asian Robusta. With an intensity of 7, it has a full body and an earthy, spicy character perfect for espresso and milky drinks.
- Rossa: The medium roast Rossa blend is less powerful than the Crema e Gusto, with an intensity of 5 and a smooth flavour. It pairs well with milk but you can also enjoy it black. It combines Brazilian Arabica and African Robusta to yield well-balanced chocolate and dried fruit flavours.
- Super Crema: The Lavazza Super Crema uses a 60:40 ratio of Arabica:Robusta to create an appealing brew with a rich crema, heavy body, and harmonious flavours. It’s very smooth and tastes of hazelnut and brown sugar.
- Gran Crema: The Lavazza Gran Crema blend reverses the ratio of the Super Crema, using 40% Arabica and 60% Robusta. The Arabica is naturally processed, as is some of the Robusta, adding sweetness to the beans. The flavour profile is unique, with notes of cocoa and black pepper.
The most popular Lavazza coffees are available as whole beans or pre-ground. And the best Lavazza Coffee espresso blends are offered in a fine grind suitable for espresso machines, which is rare for coffee at the grocery store.
Home Grounds recommends buying whole bean coffee and grinding it yourself for the most delicious brew.
Once ground, even amazing coffee begins losing its robust flavour. But if you don’t own a burr grinder, Lavazza pre-ground coffee is a good option, especially the more intense blends, which are very strongly flavoured in the first place.
Most Lavazza coffee is also offered in coffee pods, both as K-Cups and Nespresso capsules. We’d recommend the Nespresso capsules over the K-Cups. They’ll produce a heavy body and rich crema that approximates an authentic Lavazza espresso.
If you don’t have a brewer, Lavazza also offers two instant coffees, called Prontissimo! There is a Classic and an Intense option. Neither measures up to freshly brewed coffee, but they’re good in a pinch, and the Intense option makes a nice cup when paired with milk.
Brew Methods for Lavazza Coffee – 4/5
Most Lavazza coffee blends are crafted for traditional Italian espresso. In particular, anything with Robusta beans in the blend is designed to have a rich crema when extracted under pressure, so it should be brewed with an espresso machine or Moka pot. If you don’t have either, an immersion brewing method like a French press is another good choice for a full-bodied dark roast coffee.
Daria Illy, of the famous Illy coffee brand, explains the Italian affinity for espresso (3).
Espresso is the maximum expression of coffee. It is a powerful concentrate of all the tastes within it.
On the other hand, Lavazza’s emerging line-up of speciality single-origins is excellent when brewed using a filter method, like a pour-over, drip coffee machine, or Aeropress. These methods better showcase the complexity of flavour and a lighter body.
Importantly, if you’re buying ground coffee beans, match your brewing method with the grind size. Some Lavazza coffee is ground for use in an espresso machine, and brewed using other methods will yield an over-extracted and bitter result.
Don’t Buy Lavazza Coffee If…
- You’re interested in Third Wave coffee: If lighter roast profiles and complex flavours appeal to you more than traditional Italian brands, there are many great options. For example, Lifeboost Coffee offers a few excellent single-origin beans. In contrast, Volcanica Coffee offers a bigger selection of blends and single origins, including some top coffee beans from around the world.
- You want caffeine above all else: If getting peppy is your only morning requirement, consider Death Wish Coffee. People have labelled it the world’s strongest coffee, which will get you firing on all cylinders.
The current trend toward light roast coffee with bright acidity isn’t for everyone. If you’re an espresso lover or prefer the traditional rich flavours and heavy body of medium and dark roast blends, then Lavazza offers some of the genre’s best examples. Better yet, Lavazza coffees are widely available and affordably priced.
- Gibson, M. (2018, August 31). How Lavazza conquered the world of coffee. Retrieved from https://foodism.co.uk/features/long-reads/origins/lavazza-past-present-future-coffee-in-turin/
- Bizzarri, C. (2021, April 15). The curious story of how transatlantic exchange shaped Italy’s illustrious coffee culture. Retrieved from https://qz.com/992879/the-curious-tale-of-how-italy-became-the-world-capital-of-coffee/
- Charles, S. (2021, July 12). Exploring Italian coffee culture and the third wave. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2021/07/exploring-italian-coffee-culture-and-the-third-wave/