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Espresso alla Bolognese.

Given that Bologna, Italy is known world wide for its cuisine and its packaging technology - it is actually one of our earthly capitals of packaging, even as the cooking is heavenly - it seems only fitting that espresso too, being a classically Italian fusion of taste and engineering, should also be "alla Bolognese." This is true for roasted espresso-style coffees and for the machines themselves.

Relative to espresso making machines for bar and home, in the city and its environs, several factories are busily producing many thousands of units for an increasingly global market. Assumedly, Bologna holds second place (to the mighty Milan region) as a hub for espresso machine production. In this activity one finds such companies as Saeco, Estro, Spaziale-ABA, Wega, and Grimac.

All of these companies make professional espresso machines of repute, although Saeco, for example, also has a large and noted production of home-size units. The individual to contact for information about the La Spaziale line of machines is Alberto D'Atri. At Wega, the charismatic export manager is Graziano Picco. Among the Bologna region manufacturers, Wega probably has the largest capability in production of professional espresso machines, while the Grimac company is likely the most diverse in espresso-related activities.

Husband-and-wife team Giancarlo and Maria Teresa Gardosi have worked for the past 30 years to build an espresso business with an international cliental. Their activities have indeed been varied. Foremost, perhaps, they have become known for commercializing one of the world's largest inventories of gaskets and spare parts for all makes of professional espresso machines. This means that at Grimac, one finds aisle upon aisle of towering racks displaying an incredible array of tooled parts. These are exported on order to every European nation, to the U.S. and Canada, to Central and South America, to North Africa and Australia - to just about anyplace where espresso is known.

Meanwhile, another division of the company is producing its own range of grinders and complete espresso making units for home and bar. There are Grimac home-use and semi-professional lines, in models that use classic espresso dosing heads or are designed to serve via pre-formed espresso pods. The company's professional machines currently feature only the regular dosing head, but a pod system will soon be available for these bar/cafe machines as well.

Grimac has a vested interest in the new wave of machines that make espresso from preformed pods of coffee in paper filters. This is because it's newest division is mass producing the pods and will soon begin commercializing them internationally. The pods are marketed under the Coffee Quick label. The Grimac pod manufacturing process is unique too, in that a new kind of pod forming process has been incorporated that features de-oxygenizing the freshly roasted coffee - oxygen content is reduced from its usual 23 - 24% level to a standard of from .05% to .08%. The change is of real importance because it extends pod shelf life up to eight and even nine months.

Espresso Up Town and Down Town

On the coffee side, the city and its immediate vicinity host at least a half dozen roasting companies of size so that in volume, Bologna also ranks as a major source of espresso blends. Some local roasteries include Filicorri & Zecchini, Fincaff (the "Mexico" brand), Caffe Roversi, Alimenti, and Caffe Esse. Bologna espressos are also more than regional or even national in distribution - they are enjoyed in dozen of nations due to the presence of the huge Segafredo Zanetti Group coffee roasting headquarters.

Segafredo Zanetti, the creation of Massirno Zanetti, operates from a new, high tech roasting plant on the outskirts of Bologna. This plant sources the espresso with which the company is dominant on the extensive Italian bar/cafe market. It also supplies the "Italian espresso" products commercialized by Group affiliates in several countries, most notably in France, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Spain, and Portugal, and too those that are served in the chain of more than 24 Segafredo Zanetti espresso bars that can be found throughout Western Europe from southern Spain to northern Germany.

Obviously, this alone gives Bologna a special importance in the world of espresso, particularly when considering that annual Group roasting capacity is now above 40,000 tons. The Segafredo Zanetti affiliate in France, for example, operates its own roasting facility and now has 7% of the total French market in roasted coffee. This is based on the performance of such brands as San Marco, Philtre d'Or, Stentor, Quotidien, and of course, Segafredo Espresso - which comes from Bologna.

The King of Private Level

Yet another local roastery with international presence is Co.Ind. This was formerly Italy's Coop Industria, but with new facilities, a new roster of brands and commercial activities, and a new ambition, the company has truly been transformed. It is, in fact, now ranking among the largest and most sophisticated manufacturers of private label coffees in Italy. In effect, this means that Co.Ind is also one of the leading sources anywhere for a genuine private label Italian espresso.

The Co.Ind Group includes the main roasting and tea packing plant in Castel Maggiore, just outside Bologna, the Meseta Service company for out-of-home coffee service, Sacao (a small roasting company in Ravenna) and Unichem, which is based near Venice and manufactures toiletry and ecological products. The food/beverage sector accounts for almost 90% of Co.Ind business. Coffee by itself represents a fun 74% of Group turnover, tea brings in 3.5%, camomile teas contribute 2.1%, cocoa products represent 3.5% of sales, and the company's line of instant pizzas now brings in 4% of turnover.

Co.Ind packages coffees for Coop stores throughout Italy. These number about 800, with half of them described as "large." The Co.Ind productions hold 18% of the coffee sales in this vast chain of outlets. The Coop brand line includes a new Breakfast Espresso (80% of Robusta, 20%, Arabica); a Moka blend, which is the traditional family-style coffee (50-50, Robusta and Arabica), and the popular Bar blend. Bar has been so successful it has grown to hold about 50% of the Coop line sales, so popular in fact that it has been possible now to split the entry into a Bar for espresso machines and a Bar for moka machines. Topping the line is a newly reformulated premium "Gold" pack entry that is 100% Arabica. The Coop decaffeinated coffee holds 7% of line sales. These Coop coffees represent 70% of Co.Ind coffee production.

Actually, in total, all private label production amounts to more than 80% of the company's coffee segment; 100% of the tea and camomile segments. For store brand clients, Co.Ind is able to provide, not only a genuine and classic Italian espresso, but also moka, American, and decaf styles, and in the accepted spectrum of industrial grinds and blends. The diversity in product is logically extended to packaging, and Co.Ind has invested heavily to offer a full array of possibilities and pack sizes - in vacuum packs, valves, tins, bi-packs (now a particularly popular promotion in much of Europe), plus capability in specialty packagings and promotions.

Co.Ind has fairly recently become a member of the NAF association of European cooperatives, and in fact Bologna hosted NAF's 1993 annual meeting. This participation in NAF is important because Co.Ind is already starting to export its espresso line northwards and is even exploring the possibility of sourcing an Italian espresso entry in the Coop line of other NAF members. This would well support Co.Ind's ambition of bringing genuine Italian espresso into the pan European store-brand sector.

A mere five years ago, Co.Ind also launched its own first real house brand. This is a premium sector entry under the Meseta label. In Italy, the Meseta coffees are available in Northern Italy and only through supermarkets. Abroad, the label has been well introduced in France, where it is a 100% Arabica espresso in tins and brick packs, whole bean, and ground formats. The brand benefits from a distinctively stylish presentation.

To produce a wide variety of coffee and tea products, from discount to premium sectors, and in the range of contemporary packaging styles, means that Co.Ind has invested heavily in recent years in its processing, packaging, and quality control programs. What one finds is basically a new factory with fully integrated on-line control of state-of-the art siloing, roasting, and grinding systems. The green-to roast-and-ground process has been designed by Scolari Engineering of Milan and while it incorporates updated older roasters and grinders for handling some of the special blends and grinds, its core is in the Scolari built controlling, siloing, and roasting complex. The new Scolari roaster is a 220 kilo batch unit featuring the latest technology in hot/warm air style roasting. The roasting time varies by coffee origin (Co.Ind roasts by separate origin and then blends). Roast times range from 4 to 7 minutes.

The packaging-warehousing sector is also under integrated, on-line control. Here, Co.Ind has just acquired three new lines, two by ICA and one by Goglio. For tea bag packing, Co.Ind uses three IMA packers and is just adding a new IMA C23 unit. The company announces it will be revising its tea blend in 1994 and now has capability in flavored tea production.

Raw materials are cup controlled on origin, and buying is handled by an in-house department headed by Franco Cenacchi. The quality control emphasis is clearly expressed in the workings of a particularly well equipped lab, under the direction of Vittorio Scagliarini. Victor Ivankov manages the company's supermarket and export activities.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:On the Continent
Author:Bell, Jonathan
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Article Type:Column
Date:Nov 1, 1993
Words:1600
Previous Article:Statistics on tea; while tea consumption in Germany remains relatively stable, sales in specialty shops are on the rise.
Next Article:Evaluation of light commercial espresso machines.
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