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Bremen Coffein Compagnie expands.

It must have taken some nerve building a decaffeinating plant in the vicinity of the Colombian mountain Nevada Ruiz on the highlands of the Caldas province. Lying in the most famous coffee region of Manizales, that 6,000 feet high volcano was active only a few years ago.

Design, planning, and construction for the plant was done by the Bremen-based Coffein Compagnie (CC). "We built the plant on the most modern shock-resistant devices to keep the highest safety standard possible. To choose this site was only too tempting for us. The coffee here is the richest in the world, and our customers in the U.S. and the Asian region are just around the corner," said Dr. Jurgen Meyer-Koster, chief executive officer, CC.

With transportation costs accounting roughly for one third or the price per kg of the decaf tolling fee, it made no longer sense for CC to ship the green coffee from Colombia to Bremen for processing and have the decaf coffee transported again over the ocean to the U.S. market. Together with Colombian coffee interests, CC founded in a joint venture, the Descafeinadora S.A. or DESCAFECOL (DC) in Manizales, with CC holding a third of a share.

The plant has a capacity of 10,000 tons a year and provides jobs for some 50 employees. It is operated and managed by Colombian personnel whereas technical assistance comes from Bremen. The commercialization had been developed with the consent of the Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros under the terms of the usual sales channels and through Colombian exporters.

To decaffeinate the coffee beans, DESCAFECOL employs a specialized "combination procedure" using the clear mountain water from a spring nearby the plant and ethyl acetate, biologically gained from Colombian sugar cane. This "water-EA method" is based on the knowledge and experience of Coffein Compagnie in Bremen and shows an outstanding cost quality ratio. It enables especially selective and gentle caffeine extraction from the coffee bean and removes other irritant substances as well. Pressure or excessive heat treatment is avoided and the natural structure of the green coffee bean cells is retained.

Decaf coffee treated by this method is excellent for roasting. Yielding a perfect aroma and taste, it is an ideal alternative to coffee drinkers who want to do without the effects of caffeine or irritants but still wish to enjoy a tasteful sip.

Over 60 Years Experience

Having invented his decaffeinating method and obtaining a patent, Dr. Erich Scheele founded Coffein Compagnie in Bremen in 1931. The company does not run its own roasting operation, but delivers decaffeinated and caffeine-containing low irritant coffees to roasters and producers of instant coffee.

With a decaf-capacity of over 75,000 tons per year in Bremen, CC is one of the major decaffeinators worldwide. 65% of CC's decaf coffee is sold to German roasters; Germany being the main sales market for that type of drink. Every second cup of deaf coffee consumed stems from coffee processed at the Bremen plant. The other 35% of CC's decaf coffee is exported in nearly equal proportion to either European countries (except France) or North America. French roasters are served by the Compagnie Francaise de Decafeination (DFD), a 100% owned subsidiary of CC in Rolleville near Le Havre.

Alongside decaf coffee in a separate production line with a 40,000 tons capacity, CC produces caffeine-containing low irritant coffee recommended particularly for consumers with sensitive stomachs. The method used is also patented and guarantees a considerable reduction of the carbonic acid hydroxytriptamides (C-5HT) content to under 400 ppm.

A further important production line of CC's is the extraction and refining of natural pure caffeine from the raw coffee. It is an important ingredient for many soft drinks and is exported at a volume of some 500 tons per year from Bremen all over the world.

CC employs some 220 employees in Bremen, among them about 20 engineers for technical research, development and planning, serving not only Bremen, but also the decaf plants of CFD in le Havre, DESCAFECOL in Manizales and more recently, KVW in Hamburg.

Light Coffees Preferred

The market share of caffeine-containing low irritant coffee in Germany lies at 17%, accounting for a volume of well over 80,000 tons. It is considerably higher than the market share of decaf coffee at 12% or nearly 60,000 tons. Interestingly, there is a significant differentiation in consumer preference between East and West Germans. The Easterners prefer strong coffees, which have not been treated. Decaf and caffeine-containing low irritant coffees have a market share of only 3% each in the new Bundeslander.

As to the future of treated coffees, Meyer-Koster is optimistic. "The modern consumer wants his coffee to be both natural and easily digestible. However, he will make no concessions regarding quality or taste. We care for all these wishes by providing high-class decaf as well as caffeine-containing low irritant coffees, playing to the specific and individual demands for all blends of our roasters and importers."

He sees the best chances for expansion of treated coffees in the new Bundeslander, where the Easterners will adapt to Western consumption patterns, as well as in North America and the developed Asian states.

CC And KVW Arm In Arm

As of April 1993, Coffein Compagnie has enlarged its production capacities by a friendly take-over of the Hamburg-based Kaffee-Veredelungs-Werk (KVW) of the Ellerbrock brothers.

KVW was also been founded in 1931 and operates a production capacity of 15,000 tons of decaf coffee and some 30,000 tons of caffeine-containing low irritant coffee. It employs around 75 employees.

The take-over was in consequence of the Ellerbrockss' concentrating on their traditional tea business after the death of the company's founding father, Carl Ellerbrock, at the end of 1992.
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Title Annotation:includes related article on the Coffein Compagnie take-over of Kaffee-Verdelungs-Werk; German company builds new joint-venture decaffeinating plant near Colombian volcano
Author:Korner, Manfred
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:May 1, 1993
Previous Article:Inside the German coffee market.
Next Article:A tour through Eichholtz's coffee handling operation.

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