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Customized espresso machines to match anyone's taste.

Customized espresso machines to match anyones' taste

Ask Brian Olson about coffee and he'll tell you the differences between Arabica and Robusta beans and how the first known European coffeehouse was opened in Vienna almost 300 years ago. He'll talk about the changing alcohol-consumption patterns of the American public and how espresso stimulates the body's endorphins to produce a natural state of enthusiasm and optimism.

As president and co-owner of American Best Culinary, he has teamed extensive research and a restaurant background into a thriving foodservice business. The Atlanta, Georgia-based firm imports cappuccino and pasta machines, then customizes them to the theme and decor of the client.

"I'm fascinated by the history of the coffeehouse, which is very rooted in Western European culture," said Olson. "I think every town in America should have its own coffeehouse with classical music, animated conversation, and the rustling of domestic and international newspapers."

Olson's passion for culinary legends, and his ultimate buyout of the firm, stems innocently from a broken cappuccino machine in a restaurant of which he was the assistant manager 18 years ago.

Olson's employer assigned him the task of figuring out what was wrong and fixing it. The assignment brought Olson into contact with Joseph Carpiac, founder of American Best Coffee, Inc., in Los Angeles and an importer and designer of espresso and cappuccino machine in the U.S.

Not only did Olson get the restaurant's machine up and running, but, although not a coffee drinker, he developed a fondness for cappuccino himself. He also realized what a powerful profit center the machine was, so the following year, he went to work for Carpiac as a sales representative in Minneapolis.

"I became more and more interested in the machines and less interested in restaurant management," said Olson. "When I added up the numbers at the restaurant I worked for, I realized the profits from cappuccino and espresso were incredible. Even then, in 1973 in Minnesota, we were netting over $1,000 a month on these beverages alone. This was no passing fancy."

As for coffee, consumption is growing, especially in the specialty area. People are seeing a properly prepared coffee and especially cappuccino and espresso, as a wonderful beverage experience," he added.

Carpiac began to make his retirement plans in the late 80's. Olson was interested in purchasing the firm, but wanted to remain in Atlanta, where he and his wife opened two European-style coffee houses of their own under the name "Cafe Intermezzo."

Under the terms of a leveraged buyout, he gained controlling interest in November, 1989, changed the name to American Best Culinary and moved the corporate headquarters.

"Atlanta is an effective base of operation, because there is less competition and it is a good import center for European products," he said.

The firm's product line includes 120 different models of espresso and cappuccino machines, as well as pasta machines, coffee, accessories and cups. The machines are imported from Italy and Switzerland, then hand-tooled to client specifications.

"We customize the machines as much as possible, so the client truly is getting a one-of-a-kind machine," said Olson, who estimates that 80% of the machines are customized in some way. "We can create ornate, antique designs in copper or brass, or contemporary looks with plexiglass, chrome or baked enamel." A leasing program is also available.

Corporate growth has been dramatic, says Olson. In 1989, the firm did over $3 million in sales and in 1990, well over $4 million. He projects more than $6 million by the end of 1991.

PHOTO : The Gaggia espresso/cappuccino machine.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:American Best Culinary's product line
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:595
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