Often, when companies speak of their commitment to innovation, it is tempting, even advisable, to treat such claims with scepticism.
But when the company that has the inventor of single-serve coffee – undoubtedly the most transformative advance in coffee technology of the past 50 years – at its helm makes that statement, it is worth taking seriously.
Mocoffee is the product of a partnership between the man acknowledged as the father of the Nespresso coffee capsule, Eric Favre, and Pascal Schlittler.
While most people would be content with one game-changing invention in their career, Favre has continued his work in this field, striving to perfect the system he first created in 1976. Since 2010, Favre and Schlittler have established Mocoffee’s presence in 17 countries and built the company’s reputation as a leader in this incredibly competitive segment of an already competitive industry.
With the recent sale of the company to South America’s leading online retailer of wine and beer, Wine.com.br, Mocoffee is set to embark on a new chapter of its existence.
This new alliance is about more than just the joining of two companies. According to the Chairman of Wine.com.br, Rogerio Salume, the next frontier for Mocoffee under its new owners is the “democratisation of coffee capsules as a product”.
Schlittler says that while the impact of coffee capsules has already been huge, the best is yet to come: “This trend for single-serve coffee has become a truly global one, but compared to its potential it is still in its infancy.”
Single-serve coffee has tapped into consumers’ increasing demand for convenience that does not come at the expense of excellence but, Schlittler says, a new generation of consumers is emerging who want still more from their coffee experience.
“We will release clever concepts to match the requirements of today’s Generation Y,” Schlittler says. “This generation is switching their habits in hot beverage consumption. This influences the way, time, or location people consume hot beverages such as coffee. These concepts go well beyond the classic usage of a single portion capsule.”
It is this vision that attracted Wine.com.br to Mocoffee, says Salume. Recognising the limits of its wine and beer business, particularly the restraints on its ability to grow beyond Brazil due to the regulatory restrictions associated with exporting alcohol, Salume sought to find another product category that could benefit from his company’s existing strength in digital retailing and logistics.
However, Salume says, any acquisition had to stay true to his company’s initial commitment to being a leader in its field: “One of the hallmarks of Wine.com.br is its commitment to follow its path of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
With this in mind, Salume and his company embarked on a three-year search for the ideal brand to incorporate into its business. “Mocoffee perfectly fits the bill,” he says. “It has simple and proven technology that, however, is highly efficient and certainly matches that of world leaders in the coffee capsule industry.”
To complete Salume’s vision there was one other piece of the puzzle. Added to the technology and delivery of the final product, Salume had his eye on a fully vertically integrated product offering that capitalised on his company’s location in the heart of the coffee-producing world.
To this end, Wine.com.br struck a partnership with one of the country’s largest green bean exporters Tristão Cia. de Comércio Exterior, which is now a joint-shareholder of Mocoffee and will complete the company’s offer through the harvesting, cleaning, and roasting of the coffee and filling the capsules at a new, purpose-built facility in Brazil.
Sérgio Tristão is the third-generation owner of the family company, which has been operating for more than 80 years.
“Brazil is the largest producer and exporter of coffee beans in the world. However, our country has no tradition in the research for, and the production and export of, value-added coffee, as well as regarding branding and production technology,” Tristão says.
“We believe that such expertise coming from Mocoffee will help to create many opportunities for the development and the diversification of our local economy with its highly skilled labour force. By way of an economic and environmentally sustainable vision we aim to generate direct and indirect jobs and we will make an effort to further integrate the farmers of Espírito Santo State [the capital of Brazilian coffee production] into the quality process and the development of premium coffee.”
Salume says that this integration will further Wine.com.br’s commitment to sustainability by centralising the production and manufacture of the products, while also bringing more of the benefits of the coffee industry into producer countries.
“We are taking a holistic approach to the supply chain evolving from rural workers to small and large producers,” he says. “We are committed to ensuring that the entire value chain will be sustainable, starting with production and the conditions under which coffee is being planted, harvested, and further refined, including of course, shortening the transport distance.”
Schlittler points to Mocoffee’s advances in reducing the ecological footprint of coffee capsules as another area that will further Wine.com.br’s commitment to sustainability.
“We put great emphasis on sustainability and consider it as one of our three strategy or vision pillars, especially so with Tristão now joining us,” Schlittler says.“Our machines of the Ventura generation are highly sophisticated and reliable. Low warranty rates show that we carefully select suppliers in order to preserve the environment from additional waste created by low-quality products.”
Schlittler says that advances in the materials used to make the capsules have also made them a more ecologically sound product than earlier generation products.
“All Mocoffee capsules are made of polypropylene,” he says. “In contrast to aluminium, polypropylene is environmentally friendly and does not require recycling. The Mocoffee capsules are completely burned with normal household waste and dispersed in steam and CO2. The proportion of the packaging is only 12 per cent of the total weight, whereas other products have a proportion of more than 15 per cent in this respect.”
As a Brazil-based company, Salume says that Wine.com.br will also be focused on increasing the consumption of single-serve coffee in its home country.
“Breaking into the coffee segment makes sense and carries on with our project which is to select, specify and deliver high quality products to our customers throughout Brazil, and now to other countries,” he says. “Brazil is the world’s largest producer and exporter of coffee beans, but has failed to develop a global brand up to today. I think we can contribute in some ways, leading products which are the essence of our country.”
Schlittler says that this aspect of the deal had a great appeal to the Mocoffee team, which has long held as one of its aims the transfer of know-how and expertise about roasting coffee and filling of the capsules to the coffee producing countries or nearer to the user.
So, as the demand for this still relatively new product segment continues to expand, Schlittler says the focus will rest more and more on excellence as the differentiating factor.
“The industry still struggles with low-budget and low-quality products that hurt the image of capsule coffee as such,” he says. “But we are optimistic that this will change as we see clever ideas being thought up and invented in the labs which will trigger demand across continents.”
And of course, he sees Mocoffee as being the vanguard of this. “Today, we have machines in our lab that deliver highest quality products with optimised extractions, leveraging the taste in a way that even convinces coffee aficionados,” he says.
“Later this year, with one of our distribution partners we will for instance launch a 100 per cent Swiss-made high-tech machine, which will serve only very selective single origin coffee, carefully roasted by expert roasters in Holland.”
It would appear that there is still steam left in the single-serve revolution yet. GCR
Source: Global Coffee Report ‘Mocoffee, wine.com.br & Tristao – Heritage and Innovation combined’ From the April 2015 issue.