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 Italian brands such as Victoria Arduino, Nuova Simonelli, Elektra, Izzo, Avanti by Quickmill, and Pasquini. We also feature the exclusive line of Routin 1883 French syrups & sauces, most Barista supplies, and provide Barista Workshops for home and commercial clients.
Zuccarini Importing – Canada’s premier importer of fine Italian espresso equipment for home, office & commercial use.
The Life of a Canadian Icon
by Richard Syrett, The Globe and Mail. Reprinted from June 8, 2000
Restaurant pioneer, 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.
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.
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. Jackie Zuccarini heads up Canada’s premier importing company of fine Italian espresso 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, and getting some free Home Barista training.Click here to Read More
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 $1,200 for a small basic machine and go all the way up to $3,300 for a real showpiece, but all their machines come with a few accessories as needed, some espresso beans, plus an invitation to attend their highly regarded Home Barista Workshop for free, a $75 option for those who purchased elsewhere.
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 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, richer product with more “crema”.
To go with their top-quality espresso machines, Zuccarini Importing sells a variety of espresso beans, including their own signature espresso – Zuccarini’s Barista Blend. They purchase these custom blends from a local roasters and sell them 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 espresso to customers who purchase one of their machines so that they can make a great cup of espresso as soon as they get home.
Aside from the Breville Oracle, the only other non-Italian product they sell is 1883 Gourmet Syrups ($16 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.
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.