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Rhea and the coffee ritual

It seemed that vending machines and quality coffee could not get along. But Rhea, with state-of-the-art technology and fully customisable machines, has combined tradition, innovation and design without compromising what matters most: premium quality.

reading time5 minutes

How do you like your coffee? Macchiato or black? Sweet or without sugar? Do you prefer it made with a Moka coffee maker, or do you love the classic espresso coffee?

In Italy, coffee is much more than a drink: it is a passion, a ritual, a social moment, or simply an excuse for a break during daily activities. Coffee is ‘divisive’: some support coffee made with the Moka coffee maker, and some are espresso supporters. But everyone agrees on one thing: real coffee is never vending machine coffee!

B-grade coffee? Not anymore.

However, Rheavendors Group, a manufacturer of vending machines and Made in Italy excellence that, from the outskirts of Varese, enables the Italian coffee culture to travel all over the world, has debunked the belief that ‘coffee from the vending machine’ is lower quality!

Rhea’s story began in 1960 when Aldo and Giuliana Majer’s foundry, which supplied Alfa Romeo, Vespa and Olivetti, produced the first chewing-gum dispenser, an icon of the 1960s, designed by Angelo Mangiarotti.

Aldo Majer
Rhea gumball machine

A winning idea

The idea of focusing on vending machines proves successful. In 1962, Rhea was the first Italian manufacturer of vending machines for hot and cold drinks and snacks, and in 1970, the E410 espresso machine was the first vending machine to be exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Over the years, Rhea has grown internationally, bringing Italian design and know-how to over 90 countries in Europe, Asia, and America. However, the company’s mission is not limited to vending machines. The idea is to offer quality coffee, thanks to the proprietary Variplus technology, which is characterised by a high level of grinding precision, efficiency and flexibility of the coffee part, and temperature control capabilities.

A diversified offer

In 2001, Aldo’s son, Carlo Doglioni Majer, took charge of the company. After having been artistic director of the Regio theatre in Turin and the San Carlo in Naples, he devoted himself to the family business and brought Rhea the focus on the ‘coffee break’ experience, putting the consumer at the centre.

Carlo Majer

From table-top machines for the Ocs and Horeca markets to freestanding machines for hot and cold drinks and snacks, all highly customisable for different markets, the variety of the range is now a strength of Rhea. Completing the offer is the CoCo concept, which stands for Coffee and Cold. It includes two machines, one for cold drinks and one for hot drinks, with the aim of offering consumers not only water but also extracts and concentrates.

Rheas continues striving for innovation under CEO Andrea Pozzolini (board Cristina Stabilini, Stefano Macchi and Giorgio Vignati). “The future of vending is not only about technology, increasing automation and sustainability. Above all, it means recognising that vending does not simply satisfy the need for 24-hour product availability, but offers a quality and value service,” says Pozzolini.

Congratulations to those who make it possible to bring the quality of Made in Italy coffee to the world!

Find out more Made in Italy coffee stories.