Coffee Culture: COVA celebrates its 200th anniversary

On the eve of its birthday bash, COVA’s CEO Paola Faccioli tells us how the brand successfully balances its 200-year Italian heritage with modern tastes and trends.

What makes COVA unique?

COVA is an experience. It’s not just a product store or a cup of coffee. Whether you’re stepping into our store in Milan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei, etc, you will be touched by all the tastes and atmosphere that are quintessentially Milanese. This adherence to tradition has helped us reach this 200 anniversary milestone today.

How do you tailor the COVA experience for local palates?

Our first expansion into Hong Kong over 25 years ago taught us a lot. You can’t just transplant our original café into a new destination and not make some changes. There’s a big back and forth, a cultural exchange local trends and our traditional roots that keeps us fresh in new markets.

A great example is our mango cake. It’s not something that we traditionally have in Italy, but it’s a huge favourite in Asia. So our Hong Kong chef created a mango cake to cater to local tastes first, and now it’s become one of our international favourites.

How has coffee culture evolved in Hong Kong?

When we first entered Hong Kong, nobody knew what coffee really was. It was not a common habit to drink coffee and very few had tried an authentic espresso or a cappuccino. We were pioneers.

With the advent of Starbucks and the globalisation of coffee, everything has changed. People are more aware of different types of beans and brewing methods. They have become more selective so they now recognise the high quality that COVA provides.

Do you have any special 200th anniversary products?

We’ve released a limited edition Capsule Collection which is a compilation of COVA’s best-selling products. There is also special 200th anniversary packaging for all our products from the world-famous panettone to delectable chocolates. We also launched some special menus for the big occasion.

What plans for the future?

We just opened a lovely and intimate café in Monte Carlo this September. It’s our first café other than our original Milan location in 200 years, so it was very exciting for us. We are also opening another store, a big one, in Dubai at the end of this year.

There are other major projects in the pipelines in the Middle East and even North America, so keep an eye out for those announcements, too!

Thank you.

Interview: Tenzing Thondup