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Coffee Stories

Carlo Barbi

By 5th July 2024No Comments3 min read

Anyone who has excelled in the ceramics industry for over thirty years will have tales of growth, improvement, and valuable insights into building a successful business. Carlo Barbi, the CEO of Club House, has steered the company since taking over from his father, learning many life lessons along the way.


Carlo Barbi, CEO of Club House

Carlo Barbi, CEO of Club House

Carlo leads Club House, an Italian ceramics company initially specializing in ceramic cups, mugs, and silverware. Some of their production operations are based in China, and Carlo decided to exhibit their ceramic creations for the first time at the Club House booth at the Shanghai Hotelex Event.


For about 25 years, Club House has been an active part of the coffee industry and has worked closely with the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) for over 10 years. This collaboration has strengthened their ties with the coffee community, making the Club House brand a strong proponent of coffee. Club House also collaborates with competitors to provide specially designed cups for competitions, which sometimes become collaborative products for sale.


Anyone familiar with design thinking knows that creating the right product for the end user takes time. The process of empathizing, designing, and prototyping can be tedious, but diligent effort leads to products that deliver exceptional results. Club House has embraced this concept, becoming increasingly experienced in making cups for both professional and personal use.


“We have quite a global view and are also taking part in supporting SCA operations, SCA competitions, and competitors. It’s helping quite a lot in thinking about how to make a cappuccino for different beverages that are not common in Italy, like brewing, or latte, flat white.”


While most of their designs are rooted in Italian artistry, the Club House brand has grown more global through collaborations, with about fifty percent of their turnover coming from outside Italy. This openness has allowed them to savor competitions and competitors alike.


Standing out in a competitive market can be challenging, especially in an old industry like ceramics where innovation and experimentation are slow. Most cups are defined by the beverages they are intended for, meaning shape and capacity must remain constant. However, occasional innovations, such as their Maniko line (a Red Dot Award winner in 2022), bring beauty to the industry. The Maniko cups, designed with double walls and no handles, are comfortable to hold with a cooler exterior.


Carlo also mentioned a recent collaboration with Daniele Ricci (runner up, WBC 2023) aimed at enhancing coffee flavor and aroma, “with a taller edge, and taller wall on the cup’s back side.”


Outside of coffee, Carlo enjoys playing the piano, which he started almost six years ago, and has developed an interest in paddle, one of the fastest-growing sports in Italy, similar to the tennis he played in his youth.


When asked what it takes to make a great company, Carlo’s answer, based on his experience working with various individuals and corporations, was profound:


“I think patience. Patience is probably the number one. If you are patient about what you are doing, I think you can give something more.”

Oluwatobifunmi Olaniran

Take a bow! You got to this section! I'm an author at I'M NOT A BARISTA, a Creative Writer and Electrical Engineer from Nigeria. "I laugh in the face of danger." -Simba