The history of coffee is hotly debated. We don’t know for sure when we started enjoying coffee, but we are in no doubt as to who was the first person to illustrate the coffee plant. A detailed study of the coffee plant appeared in Prospero Alpini’s De Plantis Aegypti Liber, the first scientific work printed in Italy, in the late 16th century. The book is one of the most precious relics preserved in the MUMAC Library.

Split into 12 sections (Ancient Books, Products and Technology, Art and Design, Coffee and Literature, Recipes, Coffee World, Coffee Companies, Historic Cafés, Milk and Coffee, History and Consumption, Barista World, Children’s Coffee), the MUMAC Library allows visitors to discover blend descriptions, advertising*, vintage photos of the Faema company workforce, the most hi-tech LaCimbali products, medical/scientific works, botany essays, material on preparation and literary anthologies.

Pages on coffee: the MUMAC Library collection

Art and design come together naturally and in great detail, with material testifying to the history of consumption and the development of new technology. Indeed, the Library is the second largest collection in the world dedicated solely to coffee and forms part of the National Library System. Months after its inauguration, it was recognised by the “Corporate Cultural Initiatives” category.

With over 1,000 books and 15,000 documents, partly collated with the help of the collector Enrico Maltoni, the MUMAC Library has a huge range of material and also represents a facility of great historical and cultural relevance for the sector. The library contains posters, exquisite post office stamps in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, vintage photographs, catalogues and patents, as well as a collection of historical technical drawings which illustrated the history of LaCimbali and Faema, the two main brands in the Cimbali Group. The appeal of MUMAC Library is about both quality and quantity. While the main part of the library is divided into 12 sections, it also houses an archive made up of 15,000 documents covering every inch of the world of coffee. The archive features patents, technical drawings, catalogues, brochures, data charts and advertising for espresso coffee machines, toasters/surrogate producers, coffee pots and photos.  On top of that, the MUMAC Library is also home to the Cimbali Group company archive, which preserves key historical documents including technical drawings from LaCimbali and Faema and a collection of significant patents. It’s little wonder that this is the second-biggest collection of its kind in the world.

Rare documents in the MUMAC Library

As well as Prospero Alpini’s seminal book, the library holds a number of other works which justify a visit in their own right, such as Giovanni Della Bona’s 1762 book Coffee & Chocolate, which examines “the use and abuse of coffee and the maxims around chocolate”, the two complete manuals published by legendary Milanese publishers Hoepli in 1910 and 1927 and other volumes of which the MUMAC Library holds the only copies, such as “Aunt Martha's corner cupboard” by Mary & Elizabeth Kirby (1898) and  “Colombia cafetera” by Diego Monsalve (1927).

The library, which is located within the red curves of MUMAC in Binasco, just outside Milan, is open to the public by appointment. The MUMAC Library is an original way to learn about the history of coffee between 1592 and the present day. Alongside MUMAC itself and the Academy, it is testament to the Cimbali Group’s ongoing commitment to maintaining and promoting the history and culture of one of the most famous beverages in the world.