Bright yellow and blue La Cimbali vans caught the attention of people on the street who curiously approached and were offered a Cimbalino, the authentic cream coffee.
In the ‘50s, a series of the Gruppo Cimbali’s demonstration vans travelled through Italy to offer passers-by a free cup of the new espresso, called Cimbalino by Gruppo Cimbali, which had created one of the first professional espresso machines.
From the post-war period to the ‘80s, the vans travelled across Italy with their bright colours and “un Cimbalino!” writing on the doors. “I still remember,” recounts Luigi Casanova, a long-time technical assistant at LaCimbali, “when we arrived in the squares of towns and cities. Many people flocked to the van and there were numerous containers of water that had to be filled at the fountains or wherever possible. Then, with a simple gas cylinder or by attaching them to the nearest current, the two-group Granluce and LaCimbali grinder began to rumble and to dispense coffee with steaming cream. Before that spectacle and the discovery of a rich, creamy coffee, people were literally delighted.”
Cimbalino: the authentic cream coffee
For the first time, Italian coffee could be enjoyed just as we know it today: hot, intense, rich and creamy, with a hazelnut shade bordering on dark brown, reddish reflections adorned with clear streaks that create a uniform tiger-stripe effect, and a fine texture without air bubbles, white spots or a tendency to reveal the underlying liquid.
From north to south, Italian espresso transformed into the Cimbalino: “A complete cream coffee: an aromatic, stimulating, creamy, hot coffee, in other words the perfect coffee,” as an advertisement described it at the time. It was the second-generation Cimbali brothers who wrote the expression “il Cimbalino”, the mark of a good Italian coffee, on the machines’ grilles, on exhibition stands, on cups and on the sides of the demonstration vans.
Miniature LaCimbali vans
From 10th April, collectors and anyone nostalgic for their childhood will be able to purchase miniature LaCimbali vans at newsstands, the 8th model in the “Veicoli Commerciali d’Epoca” collection, faithful 1:43-scale reproductions of the legendary yellow and blue Alfa Romeo vans with the two-group Granluce and the LaCimbali grinder. If you are curious to see the original machines, we recommend a visit to MUMAC, which testifies to how the evolution of technology and design in an entire Italian sector has accompanied social and lifestyle changes, first of Italian consumers and then of consumers in other continents.