Eras & Testimonies

The Rationalism: new coffee makers

Regimes and colonial wars usher in difficult years. New establishments open. Channelling the rationalist style of the era, Giuseppe Cimbali - a hydraulic copper worker - builds new coffee machines

The coffee ritual

With Italy in a situation of enforced stagnation, with Mussolini having set up a regime that aimed to ride out the economic crisis by implementing state intervention plans and engaging in colonial wars, the number of public establishments grew. They became places of conviviality and culture, with people spending more and more time outside of the house. The coffee machine sector was stalling in terms of technological innovation, with steam still the only technology used, but consumption was at least on the up. People were increasingly visiting cafés to enjoy a cup of espresso coffee prepared for them at the counter and served at a table.

La Cimbali is born

The stock of Italian design and architecture began to rise around the world. The austerity of the rationalist era permeated the world of coffee machines, resulting in a simple style where decorations disappeared in favour of clean, geometric lines. Brands were also influenced by the spirit of the times, with advertising reflecting popular trends and styles. In 1912, Giuseppe Cimbali opened his hydraulic copper workshop in Milan. However, it wasn’t until the start of the 1930s, when he bought SITI - a company specialising in the production of machines for espresso coffee, that he moved from the small store in Via Caminadella to new premises in Via Savona, opening “Ditta Cimbali Giuseppe - copper constructions - coffee machines and soda carbonators”. The first model produced was La Rapida, which - in line with other models of the same era - featured the classic vertical design and used a hybrid gas and/or electric heating system, to overcome issues with access to energy sources.

Radio as a status symbol

The mood was still high following the end of the First World War, but across the country people tried to get back to normal life and their jobs in the fields and factories. All the while, the economic crisis worsened. Italy’s colonial policy became one of the key factors behind recovery and radios became a real status symbol. The first radios - which were bulky and as such usually positioned inside a piece of furniture - began to broadcast news bulletins, dramas, shows and soaps. They quickly became the centre of domestic life.

Testimonies from the time

Benedetto Croce was an Italian philosopher, historian, politician, literary critic and writer. One of the main ideological proponents of 20th-century liberalism in Italy and a champion of neo-idealism, he argued that science measured reality, which was ruled by philosophy, which in turn could explain reality:

«Is there a formula for wisdom and knowledge? There is, and it is as follows: recognise that without evil there would be no life and no world, and then come together to fight - practically and irrepressibly - evil and try to work tirelessly for good»


Rapida LaCimbali (1930)

Coffee machine with double heating system, gas and/or electric. Shape typical of the rationalist style. This model, launched in the 1930s, heralded the beginning of LaCimbali production.