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Leslie J. Schirato (born 1955), nicknamed “Australia’s Coffee King”, is an Australian entrepreneur and the Chief Executive Officer of Cantarella Bros Group of Companies, an Australian supplier and distributor of European food.
He currently serves as the President of the Australian Tea & Coffee Association and is a member of the Australian Institute of Directors and the Australian Food and Grocery Council.
Leslie J. Schirato was born Sydney, Australia in 1955 to Italian immigrants. At the age of 16, he started working in the Canterella Bros Group of Companies as a part-time employee over the school holidays, and began working full-time with the company in 1972.
In 1976, Schirato left the company to work for David’s Holding and later on he secured a position with Fiat Australia as a Sales Manager.
After a 5-year absence, he returned to the Cantarella Group in 1981. At this point, Schirato was working in a sales and marketing capacity, and one of his first projects was to introduce espresso coffee to the Australian market.
This was particularly challenging at a time when coffee was viewed as an instant beverage and luxury European coffee like espresso was not highly demanded by consumers. Schirato was laughed at when he tried to promote the company’s Vittoria Coffee brand to supermarkets and many of his peers in the coffee industry said that pure coffee would be too strong for Australians. Today, the pure coffee industry is worth over $135 million and it is estimated that Australians consume coffee at about 2.9 kg per capita annually.
In 1993, Schirato was promoted to Group Managing Director and today, the Cantarella Group supplies 1/3 of the fresh coffee consumed by Australians in their homes, with Vittoria Coffee dominating in supermarkets as the leader in fresh coffee.
Les Schirato is still heavily involved in charitable causes and he is recognised for his community work involving youth, social welfare, health and religion. In 2008, he was awarded with the Member of the Order of Australia for his positive contributions to the Australian community.
- Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year 2001 (Commercial and Industrial Products)
- Young Presidents’ Organisation International Legacy Honour
- Member of the Order of Australia
- Les Schirato - Interview with Australia's Legendary Coffee King: Conversations with the Best Entrepreneurs on the Planet.
- Schirato, Les. "Cantrella Bros Leadership". Archived from the original on 2013-06-05.
- Schirato, Les. "CEO Les Schirato". Vittoria Coffee. Archived from the original on 2013-04-10.
- "History of Vittoria Coffee".
- John C Lyons, Edward I. De Bono (2003). Marketing without Money (PDF). Pennon Publishing. pp. 43–44. ISBN 1 877029 41 6.