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A Paris show stopper, it's the 'Spirit of Grouard.' (new coffee brewer by Grouard shown at Salon des Cafes, Bars, Tabacs, Brasseries conference)

Hemingway would not have chosen it as a means of becoming acquainted with the bars and cafes of France, nevertheless the recent |Salon des Cafes, Bars, Tabacs, Brasseries' held in Paris gave a full view of the nuts and bolts of the contemporary French cafe. Needless to say, coffee and coffee-making machines were part of the scene, even if not figuring quite so prominently as one might expect.

Of the nearly 200 exhibiting firms, only seven offered coffee products--including such market leaders as Richard, Large, Segafredo Zanetti and Illycafe. As for coffee making machines, one could be served from units by Brasilia, Carimali, Cimbali, Conti, Grouard and Reneka. Giving cohesion and contemplation to the sum, France's roasters' organization, Torrefacteurs de Cafe de France, not only exhibited, but also took center stage at various times during the five-day event with the coffee tastings and a service award. At this Salon, the emphasis for coffee was clearly on infusing some of its new fashionableness, and sophistication, into the cafe/bar service area. This entailed trying to sensitive managers and operators to the ideals of good coffee, good service, and to the newest in blends, single origin coffees, coffee menus, and high technology in coffee-making machinery.

One particular spot on the exhibition floor where these ideals and ideas fused was under the GROUARD sign. A crowd seemed ever about there, to view for the first time the company's new line of coffee machines. On show, a glittering array of automatics for cafe/hotel/restaurant service that combine style and sensitivity to coffee (as an imagine and thing of value in itself!) with electronic wizardry.

Grouard was premiering its |Spirit of Grouard' line, which, according to Alain Gernolle, the company's managing director, fully earns the allusion to the boldness of Lindberg's flight. He bases his confidence in this on revolutionary looks and engineering. "This is serious business for us, explains Gernolle. "We've invested more than 10 million francs in R&D for the Spirit. It has taken three and half years to develop, including a year of testing in the field."

The Spirit looks like it might have cost a couple of million dollars to create--it has upright, clean, fun lines that attract the eye. Most dramatically, as to appearances, Spirit is designed to emphasize but one thing-coffee beans. Replacing the traditional top rack of cups. Spirit is crowned with two wing-line clear plastic tanks for freshly roasted whole bean coffees. Spirit thus advertises first and foremost what it has to serve, and makes a point too out of giving the customer a choice.

"Spirit personalizes coffee by giving freedom of choice. It offers either two blends or two single origin coffees, or a combination, plus a decaf," says Gernolle. "It stresses the individual cup, in that it always uses freshly ground coffee and doses for each cup singly, be it for an espresso-size, regular or long cup. It is also fast, serving up to 270 cups per hour. Actually, we got it to do 310 cups per hour in the lab. It is also very, very smart."

By this last remark, Gernolle means that the Spirit takes the concept of |automatic' to its limits. Spirit is not only worked by the push of a button or two, it is both self monitoring and self-cleaning, with integrated control functions on parameters for coffee beans, hot water, grounds drawer, and the self-cleaning and water-softening products. Spirit is unique in fully incorporating its own grinding, water-softening and self-washing systems. The line features two series--the Pro, in four models, requiring an operator; the Self, in three models, set up for self-service.

"The Spirit isn't cheap," muses Gernolle, "but we believe it fully justifies its cost in terms of reliability and cup quality, measured in terms of high speed and even if inventory control. We can program the Spirit to fit the buyers' specific desires, for timed start-up for example, or for key operation--the key can be a waiter's pen coded to unlock the machine's optical system. The spirit is designed so that each machine can be linked with an integrated control system to monitor usage, productivity, and individual servers. It can be linked directly to the coffee supplier's computer so that continuous coffee service is assured."

Although the Spirit comes as but one of many developments in Grouard's 130-year history, it is special too because it brings a completely new style and level of technical sophistication to the company's well established lines of professional coffee-making machines--espresso bar, urn and filter styles. Although now a member of France's Cidelcem Industries, an extensive industrial holding, the company retains its familiar stamp. Jean Grouard is still active with the company--as he has been for the past 47 years. He is the third generation of Grouards to serve.

In reversing Lindberg's feat, the Spirit of Grouard should soon be arriving in New York from Paris. The Spirit will be used in a new French coffee house, Midtown Manhattan; check out the corner of 79th and Lexington if you want to see what drew a crowd at the Porte de Versailles.
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Author:Bell, Jonathan
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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