Ammirati has been in business for 57 years, when coffee was something dark and thick slurped from bottomless cups in all-nite diners and espresso was a bitter brew found mainly in Italian Cafes on Mulbrerry Street, Dominic P. Ammirati Sr. decided to begin importing commercial espresso machines directly from Italy. The machines, he thought, would complement his thriving house-wares business, started by his Neapolitan father near the family's East Harlem, NYC, apartment. Dominic was 54 at the time. Perhaps he was too old to be considered a “young buck”, but he was certainly a visionary at just the right age to anticipate a trend whose time would soon come.
Determined to bring the best brand of espresso machine to the American market, Dominic traveled to Milan, Italy and began a relationship with La Cimbali that continues up to today, becoming the first person to bring the renowned manufacturer's machines to the United States. As legend tells, Dominic carried the first machine back to America in his luggage before setting up Ammirati Imports, a family business spanning three generations, which now brings several hundred La Cimbali espresso machines from Italy into the United States for sale to cafes and restaurants nationwide every year.
In 1964, the market for commercial espresso machines was small at best. "Little by little, it grew," said Dominic, describing those first years. In the early days, Dominic primarily sold the machines to restaurants and cafes in European enclaves throughout Manhattan. He brought them to French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Jewish business owners who hoped to recreate the espresso experience remembered from childhood and travel abroad.
With diligence, perseverance and determination, Dominic and his son, Tommy Ammirati, built a business importing and selling espresso machines and coffee that eventually surpassed and swallowed up the original housewares business. In the mid 1970s, the father-son team also began roasting their own coffee and espresso called Cafe Ammi, with much success. Soon the market that already seemed so good would explode into greatness.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, with a caffeinated surge, a coffee craze took hold of the United States. Cafes began to crop up on nearly every city street corner. "Cappuccino," "ristretto," and "macchiato," became household words, as Americans learned about the delights of coffee and the culture that surrounds it. The Ammirati's, with 30 years of experience already under their belt, were uniquely poised to bring the best in Italian espresso machines and coffee to an enthusiastic marketplace.
Today, a third generation of Ammirati's raised amid the scent of roasting coffee and the whirring of grinders continues to bring a highly respected blend of coffee products -- including La Cimbali and Faema espresso machines, Lavazza premium coffees, Mighty Leaf fine teas, Urbani Truffle products and Toschi Vignola products, DiMartino Pasta from Gragnano Italy among much else – to some of the most well-known cafes and restaurants across the United States. The addition in 1998 of Lavazza coffees to the Ammirati portfolio of brands lead a period of fantastic growth in both sales and continued expertise. Every member of the Ammirati team is considered an expert in the entire process of specialty coffee from harvesting to sourcing to roasting to distribution to excellence in the cup.
Dominic Ammirati Sr., who passed away in June 2002, felt blessed in his success. "I've done almost everything I've ever wanted to do," he said in an interview in 1995, adding that what he'd like most to be remembered for is "having a good family."
His family, including grandsons Dominic Ammirati Jr., T.J. Tarateta, Michael Ammirati, and Joseph Ammirati build upon the success that Dominic Sr. and his son Tommy created in the family's long history of importing and distributing coffee, espresso machines, and related products. With a new showroom, cafe and warehouse in Pelham, NY, the next generation continues to bring the best in espresso to an American marketplace that continues to embrace coffee with enthusiasm.