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Business perks up for coffee man

Last update - Thursday, September 17, 2009, 02:49 By Metro Éireann

Metro Éireann speaks to Italian businessman Fabio Lunghi of Impero, which is bringing authentic Italian coffee to tastebuds across Ireland

Outdoor sporting events are not exactly synonymous with the availability of classy coffee, but Impero bucked the trend at last weekend’s Sport Against Racism Ireland (Sari) event in Phoneix Park, where it has been serving up hot drinks for years.
Smooth, creamy and without the battery acid flavour that’s become standard-fare even in cafés, punters weren’t in short supply at the Impero stand, even on a gloriously sunny weekend.
Impero, founded by Italian native Fabio Lunghi, provides a wide range of coffee-making services across Ireland, including selling and servicing machines, and occasionally sets up stall at events such as Sari’s – where Lunghi himself got stuck in, showing that he knows the art of coffee-making pretty well himself.  And it’s one that he appears to take quite seriously.
Lunghi was raised near Rome, and moved to Ireland over 10 years ago with his then Irish girlfriend. “It was very nice to be an Italian here, everyone was asking ‘Where are you from? What are you doing for Christmas?’ and talking about football, of course,” he recalls.
Before coming here Lunghi had worked in factories, bars and restaurants, but a new pathway opened up for him when he spotted a gap in the coffee-making market in Ireland – perfect during the country’s Celtic Tiger heyday, when orders for lattes and cappuccinos rolled off the tongue as if the nation had been bottle-fed on them.
And surprisingly, despite the economic nosedive, Lunghi describes himself as “very busy, especially now.”
He explains: “With servicing, people want to add more life to their existing machines – I am like a doctor.”
Impero has a wide range of services. The business sells brand new professional coffee machines, retails and rents second-hand machines and provides a maintenance and repair service for all brands, in addition to offering new and second hand coffee grinders and other catering equipment and accessories, such as panini grills.
The firm also trains staff in the use of coffee machines and can teach the art of making the perfect espresso, cappuccino and caffè latte.
With just one employee, the bulk of this workload is overseen – and done – by Lunghi himself, who criss-crosses the country with his work every week. But it’s a lifestyle he’s warmed to.
“I enjoy being my own boss, even if it’s 20 hours a day, because you’re never off. But I like it,” he says. “I intend to grow this business because I like it, I think there are possibilities.”
The job also features some jet-setting now and again, with Lunghi planning to attend a coffee machine expo in Milan this October, to check out the latest models on the market.
As for unwinding, the Italian has simple, uncomplicated tastes. “Watching television,” he says, “especially football.”

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