A long history serving Toronto
Canada's very first espresso machine arrived in Toronto in 1954 when Giacomo Zuccarini opened the "Sidewalk Caffé" at Yonge and College. So began the initial distribution of the Gaggia line in Canada, and the inception of Zuccarini Importing Company Ltd.
Still family-run to this day and built on a solid reputation of expert sales and service, our line has expanded to include other famous brand names such as Elektra, Nuova Simonelli, Franke and Pasquini. We also feature the extensive line of SIFA Italian component bar systems and displays, plus the exclusive line of Routin 1883 syrups & sauces.
Zuccarini Company - Canada's premier importer of fine Italian espresso and bar equipment for home, office &commercial use.
Accolades - Globe and Mail
The Life of a Canadian Icon Richard Syrett, The Globe and Mail reprinted from June 8, 2000
dancer, lover of women - and a good cup of coffee.
Born August 18, 1921,
in Cerqueto Del Tronto, Teramo, Italy.
Died April 8, 2000,
in Toronto, of leukemia, aged 78.
Long before Starbucks or Tim Hortons there was Giacomo Zuccarini. For 46 years, as the exclusive distributor of Gaggia espresso machines in Canada, he made it his life's work to teach Canadians to make and enjoy a decent cup of coffee.
When he arrived in Toronto in the early 1950s, by way of Mexico City, Casablanca, London and Italy, it was not love at first sight. Too many dirt roads, not enough culture, and the coffee . . . aqua sporca! Dirty water.
So, in 1956, Giacomo opened The Sidewalk Café at College and Yonge as a way of showcasing a new lever-system espresso maker he had imported from Italy. The café boasted the city's first heated patio, and its first wood-burning pizza oven. The star attraction was Giacomo's stunning girlfriend, who was said to be Hungarian countess. She greeted patrons perched inside an enormous coffee cup. The place was a success -- until one night his partner skipped town with all the money, leaving a devastated Giacomo no choice but to close down. Stung by this betrayal, he vowed his children would learn self-reliance.
When Giacomo married in 1964 he hoped for a son. Instead his beloved wife Karin gave him three daughters. While he tried to hide his disappointment, he was never really sure how to relate to the girls and treated them like boys. "No kid-glove treatment for the Zuccarini girls. We were only 11 and 12, and Pa had us fixing and lifting these heavy espresso machines," recalled his eldest daughter Jackie. "He'd say, 'C'mon, you can do it, you're strong.' "
Giacomo's own youth was the stuff of good Italian opera. Had his mother married according to her uncle's wishes she would have inherited a fortune. Instead, she married for love and lost everything. The family background was one of wealth and privilege, yet Giacomo grew up poor with little formal education. A disputed will led to a court order that split their villa in half by means of an interior brick wall. The servants' quarters housed pigs.
Giacomo left the farm in the late 1930s and found work waiting tables at London's fabled Savoy Hotel. No sooner had he acquired the coveted job of maître d' when the Second World War erupted. He was drafted into the Italian army and landed in the North African heat in a ridiculous wool uniform. The Allied Forces overran North Africa and he became an American P.O.W., yet he maintained his zest for life: he'd bribe the guards with cigarettes, steal out of camp and disappear into Casablanca to dance until dawn.
Throughout his life, he boasted that he never missed a day of work -- even after being diagnosed with leukemia in 1994. Last Christmas, despite feeling terrible, he forced his failing body into the shop. Jackie arrived to find her father huddled over his espresso machines and gasping for air. "It's that damn fagioli your mother made, it gave me indigestion!" he told her. Doctors later found that Giacomo had suffered two heart attacks.
Every day in hundreds of cafés, bars and restaurants across Canada, coffee drinkers unknowingly pay tribute to Giacomo Zuccarini simply by enjoying a cup of espresso. But a life cannot be measured out in coffee spoons. Rather, we can count a thousand dance partners from Rome to Mexico, tens of thousands of satisfied customers and innumerable souls warmed by his generous smile.
Richard Syrett is a producer and broadcaster living in Toronto. He makes a terrible cup of coffee.
Accolades - The Jewels of Food for People with Taste
Become your own Barista
Before there was a gourmet coffee shop on every corner, Giacomo Zuccarini was introducing Torontonians to the sublime pleasures of proper Italian espresso, importing Canada's very first espresso machine an incredible 50 years ago. With that groundbreaking event, the famous Gaggia line was introduced to Canada, and Zuccarini Importing Company Ltd. was born.
Today, Giacomo has passed on, but his business thrives in the hands of his eldest daughter. As General Manager, Jackie Zuccarini heads up Canada's premier importing company of fine Italian espresso and bar equipment for home, office and commercial use.
For those of you true coffee lovers who couldn't imagine starting your day or ending a meal without a shot of espresso or frothy cappuccino, Jackie suggests becoming your own "Barista" (skilled espresso machine operator) and investing in a quality espresso/cappuccino machine.
"We carry four of the best names from Italy - the Gaggia machines that started it all, Elektra, Pasquini and Saeco." Jackie explains that each brand has different qualities and characteristics, each with their own very specific appeal. "For example, Gaggia offers many different models at a wide range of price points. Elektra makes a highly aesthetic machine that focuses on design as much as quality. Pasquini appeals to those who enjoy the act of preparing the coffee as much as drinking it. And Saeco makes machines that are fully automated and work at the press of a button."
Whichever you choose, every machine makes a great shot of espresso and perfectly steamed milk, from which you can create any variety of coffee beverage - cappuccino, latté, macchiato, Americano, etc. Prices begin at $400 for a small basic machine and go all the way up to $2000 for a real showpiece.
We were wondering exactly what was the difference between these imported machines and the more common department store type espresso makers. Jackie tells us that each of their four distinct lines are meant to give the home user a professional, authentically Italian espresso. And because these Italian manufacturers produce both domestic and commercial machines, the ones for home use have many commercial features, are more durable, have fewer service problems and make a hotter, smoother product with more "crema".
To go with their top-quality espresso machines, Zuccarini Importing sells their own signature espresso - Zuccarini's Barista Blend. They purchase this custom blend of beans from a local roaster and sell it either in whole bean form or ground. "What is most important and what so many people don't realize is that coffee beans must be fresh. Once ground, coffee only has 2 or 3 days before it gets stale," says Jackie. They give samples of their signature blend to customers who purchase one of their machines so that they can make a great cup of espresso as soon as they get home.
One of the only non-Italian products they sell is DaVinci Gourmet Syrups ($10.75 - $11.95 per bottle). Many of you may be familiar with this North American trend from seeing these delicious syrups in your local chain coffee shop. They are a great addition to a cappuccino, latté, hot chocolate, steamed milk or club soda and come in an unbelievable variety of flavours such as Amaretto, Butter Rum, Coconut, Tiramisu and Key Lime Pie just to name a few. A favourite at the store is a shot of DaVinci's Sugar-Free French Vanilla added to a creamy cappuccino - Yum!
We asked Jackie what she predicts will be the newest trend for coffee lovers. "There's a trend coming out of Seattle right now called Coffee Art and I think you'll be seeing it in a few of the upscale cafés and restaurants in Toronto soon. It's a very special technique of pouring perfectly foamed milk over the coffee in such a way that it causes a design - a heart or a tree let's say - to float to the top. It's really amazing!"
Whichever trends come and go, Zuccarini Importing Company Ltd. wants to help you make the perfect espresso-based beverage in your own home. Why not drop by their store and find out how easy it is to become your own Barista.