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Milan's big city coffee.

Milan's big city coffee

The Bonomi company is entering its 105th year of coffee roasting, giving it title to one of the oldest coffee traditions in Italy. Despite its age, Bonomi is also representative of the most recent trends among roasters worldwide - toward specialty products and markets, new products for new market groups, and expanding export and private label business.

For generations a Milan company, Bonomi moved its roasting plant to the Milanese suburb of Binasco only in 1980. It remains very much a `Milano' coffee, however, and its product markets are clustered in the surrounding provinces of northern Italy - Lombardy, Piedmont, Liguria and Veneto. Until about five years ago when it was acquired by a group of private interests, the company was also a typical (for Italy) family-owned and operated coffee company. Bonomi is now managed by Sergio Talso, and since the change in ownership, has had a complete updating in production capability as well as in market directions.

In the past, Bonomi was specialized uniquely in the home market. In fact, the company did not enter the Horeca (foodservice) sector until the 70's. The distribution profile is evolving rapidly now, with about 30% of sales through specialty shops, 30% through hotels/restaurants/cafes, 15% via supermarket shelves, and 15% by vending machines. According to Sergio Talso, this pattern is to be further fine tuned with an emphasis on growth in specialty shop and Horeca (foodservice) sectors and a decrease in percentage of supermarket and vending sales. Milan is one of the western world's more sophisticated and prosperous urban markets. The Bonomi coffee products reflect this, with a stress on package design and image as well as quality. The products tend to be up-market items. The Bonomi line includes traditional `espresso' blends (from selected Robusta and Arabica origins), 100% Arabica blends, regular and decaffeinated products, ground and whole bean versions, in vacuum brick packs, valve bags or tins, and in the kilo, half kilo and 250 gm sizes.

To complete its bar line, the company offers a `Hill Tea' product, Ciobar chocolate drink (in a single-service portion), and a camomile tea product.

Bonomi is distinctive, even in a land of multiple fine coffees, for its long roast - 20 minutes - and for its relatively lighter roast. Despite Italy's shift to a ground coffee market, more than half of Bonomi production is still in whole bean blends, an indication in itself of the line's standing. The company's newer products include 100% Arabica blends, and most recently a very fashionably dressed tin of individual-portion servings of regular espresso cofee. This too is a 100% Arabica blend, in a 6.25 gm packet, 20 packets to a tin. These tins of `Caffe Bonomi' individual service packs were launched successfully in September in Milan, and pioneered for coffee in the growing and affluent singles market.

According to Sergio Talso, Bonomi will continue to shift toward the quality coffee segment, with an eye to more specialty and new market products. In support of this plan, Talso has an impressive production facility in Binasco, with new green coffee silos and handling system by Brambatti, two 200-kilo batch roasters, two ICA packaging lines - one for the ground coffee vacuum packs, the other for the 500 gm whole bean packs - and the latest Goglio Luigi line for the kilo valve bag (whole bean).

Coffee, by the way, is very much a part of the Talso family, as Sergio's brother, Giorgio Talso, is a director at ARC (Azienda Riunite Caffe), one of Italy's leading companies in green coffee trade - which is a key supplier to Bonomi, naturally enough.

"We remain concentrated and committed to the changing Northern Italian coffee market," explains Sergio. "But our exports are developing too. About 10% of our production is sold outside of Italy. We have distributors in Munich, London, New York, and Japan. Our sales in the U.S. and Japan are expanding."

Apparently, Bonomi is succeeding in finding a distinctive niche for itself in more than one big city coffee market.

PHOTO : Sergio Talso is a manager of Bonomi, an old and famous Milan coffee company that has gained new vigor in specialty markets. The shift in markets is supported by a newly renovated production facility located in the town of Binasco, on the Milan ring.

PHOTO : The newest Bonomi product is a single-service espresso coffee, 100% Arabica, in 6.5 gm packets. The packets come in a highly distinctive tent shaped tin, and were launched successfully this past September in the Milan area market.
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Title Annotation:Milanese coffee industry
Author:Bell, Jonathan
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Mar 1, 1991
Previous Article:Coffee in Trieste.
Next Article:Soul and substance, coffee and Italy.

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