The café designed by Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota for Lavazza within the Italian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is a giant moka (by the author) powered directly by the sun, without any waste

Making Coffee with the Sun. It combines the best known Italian traditions coffee and design  to the circular economy the café designed by the studios CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota Building Office for Lavazza whitin the Italian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Solar Moka a moka (designer) 2.5 meters high and powered by solar energy that heats up water needed to make coffee, without waste.

The café is part of the Solar Coffee Garden, a larger project aimed at sustainability which shows the integer production process, highlighting the importance of a transparent supply chain, and reuses waste from coffee processing.

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A gigantic Carmencita by Zanuso

The giant Solar Moka, which hangs from the ceiling, is surrounded by an array of mirrors that track the sun’s energy. The solar rays are funneled towards the pot, where they heat the water that is needed to prepare the coffee, without waste. The Solar Moka is a 2.5-meter-tall (8-foot-tall) reproduction of one of the icons of Italian design, the Carmencita Moka pot, designed by Marco Zanuso for Lavazza in 1979.

The transparent supply chain: from the bean to the cup

The Solar Moka is part of a larger Solar Coffee Garden, showcasing the coffee production process and highlighting the critical importance of a transparent supply chain. At the entrance to the café, a series of potted coffee plants are suspended five meters (16 feet) above the ground, allowing visitors to observe the origins of the coffee bean that is central to the coffee production process. The plants are grown on-site for the entire duration of the Expo.

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The waste from coffee processing is reused

Finally, the café’s main counter is made with resulting coffee and coffee beans. The former, mixed with Mapei resin, cover all vertical surfaces while the latter are used for the countertop.

“We tried to play with different dimensions of sustainability here” says Carlo Ratti. “First, there is the use of solar energy to make coffee. Second, every step of the coffee making process, from bean to cup, is made transparent. Finally, all the waste from coffee production is reused in the design in various ways”.

“This project combines the Italian traditions of coffee and design with the principles of the circular economy. At the same time, it plays with the convergence between the natural and the artificial worlds, a topic that is central to the future of our work,” says Italo Rota, founder of Italo Rota Building Office.