Expo Coffee Cluster structure

When the Coffee Cluster was created, it took its inspiration from the vast coffee plantations that grow at the edges of the tropical forests of Africa and Central America. The architecture of the cluster evokes the long branches of the tall trees under which the coffee plants grow. The pavilions are a metaphor of these tree trunks.

The cluster exhibits the past, present and future of coffee in its three dimensions: the product and its journey from bean to cup; the culture, creativity and art that surrounds a cup of coffee; exocitism, stories and traditions from the coffee producing and consuming countries.

The Cluster is characterized by warm and natural colors that alter with the changing light that filters in from outside through the roofing, giving visitors the illusion of being in a real forest.

The Coffee Cluster takes visitors on an exhibition path “from the land to the coffee cup”, expressed via five main stops: the greenhouse, the transportation, the roasting, the extraction and the bar and the meeting area. The path starts outside the pavilion in the greenhouses decorated with  coffee plants – stage for the splendid photographic exhibition by Sebastião Salgado.

Once inside the refreshment area, visitors can enjoy aromatic and delicious coffee. In the events area there will be a number of meetings, presentations and shows. The café area will host a wall installation of historical espresso machines borrowed from MUMAC – the Museum of Coffee Machines located in Binasco (Milan) at Cimbali head-quarter, the world leader company in design and manufacture of professional coffee machines. In particular, eight pieces will be on display for a historical journey from the dawn of the industry to the present day and it will mix technology, design and Italian style. Between the bar and the events area, visitors will find the market area where they can buy coffee from different countries as a keepsake and reminder of the aromas and flavors they have experienced. The coffee is roasted real time in the roasting area of the coffee cluster.

The Coffee Cluster is one of the nine thematic pavilions, which during EXPO 2015, will be dedicated to specific foods and issues related to the "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" theme: Rice, Cocoa, Fruit and Legumes, Spices, Cereals and Tubers, Bio-Mediterraneum, Arid Zones and Islands, Sea and Food.
Great attention is also paid to the eco-sustainability of the structure: for example, used coffee grounds will be recycled to create objects and displays.


EXHIBITION CONTENT: Università Commerciale "Luigi Bocconi", Italy - Università del Caffè / illycaffè
SCIENTIFIC RESPONSIBLE: Università Commerciale "Luigi Bocconi", Chiara Mauri and Università del Caffè / illycaffè
CONCEPT AND EXHIBITION LAYOUT: Alessandro Colombo, Stefan Vieths, Francesca Rapisarda, illycaffè
TOTAL AREA: 4.427 sqm
COMMON AREA: 3.000 sqm
EVENTS AREA: 122 sqm


  • Burundi
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Ethiopia
  • Guatemala
  • Kenya
  • Dominican Republic
  • Rwanda
  • Timor Leste
  • Uganda
  • Yemen

The three dimensions that characterize the Coffee Cluster (the product "from earth to cup"; its culture and links with past events, the arts, cinema, music and literature; the exoticism of coffee, the meeting and discovery of different cultures throughout the world) will be presented via a journey through the past, present and future.

The theme of "the past" will cover the product through the origins of the plant, the historic coffee routes and the culture surrounding its preparation; it will analyse the cultural role that coffee played as a drink enjoyed by society during different eras such as the Enlightenment, its link with past events, the arts, cinema, music and literature; its multi-ethnic character will be presented through events and testimonials from relevant countries.

The "present" dimension of coffee will be portrayed through video interviews with the Università del Caffè to explain the pleasure that is derived from quality, sensory aspects and the places where it is usually consumed, its beneficial properties (often overlooked) and the sustainability that characterizes current production and processing. The culture and contemporary multi-ethnicity of coffee will be supported by Brazilian photographer, Sebastião Salgado's show: a photographic exhibition created for illy in Costa Rica and El Salvador - “the lands of coffee" - with the aim of using imagery to express the effort and passion of those who spend every day in the plantations.

The “future” dimension will represent a place for art and ideas on the future prospects of coffee: nutraceutical aspects, new coffee machine technology and the genomics of taste and enhanced reality, which influences the coffee cup's contents.
There will also be a project that will enable participation from all coffee enthusiasts who are not physically present in Milan: the Digital Cluster is a portal that will show the pavilion in 3D, allowing users to see what the Coffee Cluster is like, its layout and which countries are taking part.