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Charles Danican does not play the oboe in the Orchestre de Paris.

Charles Danican does not play the oboe in the Orchestre de Paris

Actually, he is said to have been a French composer of the last century and to have had his name enshrined on the wall in a far corner of the Paris Opera. In any case, he is now a coffee brand, and perhaps the most expensive to be had in France. As a coffee, Charles Danican is of interest not for its volume, which is small, or even for its quality, which is high, but foremost for the considerable effort expended at positioning it as a luxury item.

Charles Danican is marketed to look exclusive. This has taken unusual care and attention because Charles Danican is available by mail only. Its existence is as much as matter of the fine art of direct mail marketing as of green coffee buying and roasting. Its clients are carefully prospected and the sales presentations are impressively elaborate, sophisticated and generous to a level of noblesse oblige - in the initial offering the target is provided with four free 250gm packs of Charles Danican.

As is necessary for other mail order luxury items, Charles Danican must not only have a special and unique image, it must have quality. With supermarket coffee aisles in easy reach everywhere, and with an upward trend in the quality of packaged French coffees, the Danican green coffees must be selected, roasted and packaged with care to uphold an image of exclusivity. By medleying clever marketing with an unusual standard of coffee quality, Charles Danican has gained 6500 regular mail subscribers for its freshly roasted blends.

Its Master's Voice

The creator of Charles Danican, at least as to imagery and market appeal, is Danile Hauguel. Hauguel has been through the years a marketing professor and consultant, specializing in direct mail. In fact he has become something of an international figure in direct mail circles. At his office in Paris, he is a director at BF&A, a leading French direct mail marketing agency; when in Le Havre, he is president and general director of Brulerie du Havre de Grace, the coffee roasting company that produces Charles Danican - along with other coffee blends, and tea.

The Brulerie is a small operation located near the large Leporq plant on the outskirts of Le Havre. About 70% of coffee production is for the Charles Danican label, in five blends. The great majority of the Danican production, however, is in the Jardin de Neighery brand. The name refers to the Neighery region of the Mysore district, and, as can be guessed, alludes to the base coffee, a top quality India plantation coffee. There are at least four origins in each of the Danican roasts.

The remainder of the coffee production is for the "Vanier" brand of fine coffee largely positioned for the out-of-home sector (pastry shops, better restaurants and hotels). Vanier coffees are often found in the Chateaux Relais chain of restaurants. But this market has been stagnating in France in recent years, and the Brulerie du Havre de Grace has grown along with Charles Danican. The tea line includes about 20 qualities, in bulk and in muslin sachets. To complement the coffee and tea the company also offers a purposefully small and select collection of accessories.

Danile Hauguel may be as unique as his Danican creation in that he is a marketing executive who can actually talk at length about the coffees of India or Kenya, where he travels - he has also been to Costa Rica five times in search of the right coffee for Charles Danican, and to Brazil three times on the same mission. Although not from a coffee family, he began his career at a coffee roasting firm, along with his brother. Interestingly enough, both Hauguels have proceeded to acquire their own separate companies - Daniel's brother owns Coffea, which with 65 outlets is now France's largest chain of coffee boutiques.

If Hauguel has been the mind behind the Charles Danican marketing, the man who has given it quality continuity is Michel Vanier, who founded the company and then passed it to Hauguel about 15 years ago. Vanier has remained intimately connected with the Brulerie and even now in his 80th year continues as one of the coffee tasters. Michel Vanier is also author of Les Cafes Precieux, a noteworthy personal assessment of the coffee world (in a handsome jute bound edition and available to Charles Danican clients). The man Danican was indeed a one-time relative of the Vanier family, who were themselves green coffee merchants for generations in Le Havre.

The company buys in eight or nine origins but is steadfast to India, Costa Rica, Kenya, New Guinea and Colombia. In addition to Hauguel's trips, the Brulerie buys its premium coffees through the importers Jobin and Langlois, tea from Olivier. Brulerie relies on the abilities of five tasters, twice weekly. The blends follow Vanier recipes but have been evolving. The master roaster is Jacque Lamauve, who has been at his craft for more than 40 years. Lamauve at work fusses constantly with the draw ("If you miss one phase by 10 seconds you've lost your coffee!" he warns). This is a langourous roast, of 20 minutes, and is fairly light by French standards. About 75 percent of the coffee remains in whole bean form.

Actually, the Brulerie is trying to promote what it considers to be an even tastier roast than the Nelghery, but this proves slow work. The Nelghery blend was prepared specifically to appeal to a school of French taste in Arabica roast. To move away from this entails caution. Marketing principles again come into play here. One aspect of the Danican program involves regularly offering clients a freepack of a different house blend. By this the company builds interest in a range of tastes.

No inventory is the house rule. The day's roast is shipped out within 24 hours, and is assured delivery anywhere in France in less than three days. Danican clients are found in all regions of the country, with particular concentration in the wealthy Paris region. A 250 gm pack of Charles Danican costs 37 francs, excluding freight charges. This means the coffee is about three times as costly popular brands sold in French supermarkets. If one imagines the French coffee market as a pyramid, the very tip is held my mail order coffees. Within this small, elite segment, in turn a basement level is held by the company Soleil Matinal. The middle ground is controlled by the Jacobs brand Privilege. Charles Danican dominates the tiny top end.

The waters of direct mail coffee marketing are admittedly dangerous; there are more failures than successes. Yet those who do succeed, like Hauguel with Danican, have not only profitability but the pleasure of making a first class coffee product. They also communicate with something of a captured audience, and via their mailings can actually thump the podium in tribute to more tender-loving-care for coffee.

Improved home preparation and presentation are continuing themes for Charles Danican. The 12-page pamphlet on coffee care that accompanies each client's first shipment goes into some detail to promote: a better judgement of cup aroma, body and acidity; the choice of brewing systems (various systems are appraised); the use of bottled water in brewing (but not Vichy, please!); and a fitting presentation in prewarmed porcelain - milk, as desired only in the mornings, no sugar if at all possible, although a taste of fine mellow chocolate is recommended in advance of the first sip. For the very last small sip, while the cup is still warm, the pamphlet suggests adding a swallow of good Calvados to the blend for a final flourish to the coffee ceremony. What a flourish!

The literature also councils, "There is a way to drink a good wine, the same for coffee: by sips, holding it in the mouth for a few moments, on the palate, to savor all that the aroma has to offer." The consumer is reminded that while a 250gm pack of Charles Danican may carry what seems to be a breathtaking price, at 20 cups per pack the cost is still less than 2 francs a cup - far less than that for a glass of wine of comparable class.

Say it loud.

PHOTO : Daniel Hauguel, PDG of Brulerie du Havrede Grace in his' Paris office. A specialist in direct mail marketing, he has fashioned a highly sophisticated and successful marketing program for the Charles Danican coffees, a leading name in France's mail order coffee segment.

PHOTO : Master roaster Jacques Lamauve at the controls during a roasting session at the Brulerie plant in Le Havre - "If you miss one phase by 10 seconds you've lost your coffee!"

PHOTO : A display for some of the company products - Vanier and Danican brands (a pack of Charles Danican is seen on scales at left). Tea is also produced by the Brulerie, with a range of some 20 qualities in bulk and in muslin tea bags.
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Title Annotation:expensive brand of coffee sold by the Brulerie du Havre de Grace
Author:Bell, Jonathan
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Jun 1, 1990
Previous Article:Tea & coffee in France.
Next Article:The literary importer of Le Havre.

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