Frank LaRusso (AST)
Courtesy Assistant Professor, Lavazza Executive-in-Residence
Lavazza North America is part of one of the world’s largest coffee companies—LavAzza Group—with a focus on training and strategic development of coffee experiences in the Away from Home segment. Frank began his 32-year career with LavAzza & Mars, incorporated in the M&M/MARS snack food group, where he held various positions in sales and marketing.
Following his time in the snack food business, Frank led the project team that analyzed the U.S. coffee market to consider bringing the Drinks division to North America. As of result of this research, the company launched the FLAVIA® Beverage Systems business unit (renamed LavAzza Professional) in 1995. Frank helped establish FLAVIA® Beverage Systems and the FLAVIA® brand in North America. This business unit of MARS was renamed MARS Drinks, and purchased by LavAzza in December of 2018. In addition to being the first Associate of Mars Drinks in the United States, Frank is one of the only Mars Associates to ever have received the global "Make the Difference" final award twice. He received this honor first for his work with coffee growing families in El Salvador and second for launching new global Drinks brands. Prior to joining Mars, Frank began his career at Guinness Brewing Company, working and living in London, England. Frank has an extensive marketing and management background and holds a BSBA from Boston University, an MBA from Drexel University and a MDC from Cornell University in Management Development. Frank was responsible for the LavAzza Partnership with the SHFM (Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management—as a Industry Advisory Board Member.
Frank is an active member of the National Coffee Association and Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). a delegate for the 2021 RE:CO conference, volunteer for 2022 RE:CO and 2022 SCA Expo, and in 2023 did a Lecture at the SCA Expo on replicating “That Café Experience.”
Frank lives in Bucks County, PA, with his wife Lisa and daughters Gianna and Donatella. He leads a youth ministry for children of the coffee growing regions of El Salvador and enjoys scuba diving, fly fishing, and performing music for youth ministry at church. He is also an adjunct professor of Corporate Social Responsibility at Drexel University, and Fall 2021, 2022 adjunct professor for “the Business of Coffee” class at Florida International (FIU) Chaplin Hospitality School, and in Fall 2022 taught at the Purdue University Marriott Hospitality School on the Business of Coffee. In February 2023 Frank did a Barista Certification workshop at the Cornell University Hospitality college. In 2022 Frank became a Speciatly Coffee Association (SCA) Authorized Specialty Coffee Trainer (AST). Only 128 Individuals in North America have received the Specialty Coffee Association Authorized Specialty Coffee Training (AST) certification- the highest level of certification in coffee training in the world.