Dr. Suwelak : by Ian Reynolds-Young
We met on ‘the naughty step’ outside Chaophraya, the (outstanding) central Leeds Thai restaurant that unwittingly hosted vending’s unofficial pre-show get together. Nikolas Straube and Willhelm Fleming introduced themselves as the Vendex team from Dr. Suwelak and – you know how things are – we got chatting. We parted close to midnight with an agreement that I’d visit them on their stand to get the low-down on their business. The wine had been talking, and the beer had been listening!
Sure enough next day, sober as judges, we got together and in five minutes, Nik and Willy gave me a potted history of the famous old business, together with a snap-shot of what they had to offer to the UK’s vending operators.
‘The brand behind your brand.’
‘We make freeze dried coffee of the highest standard in our factory in Germany’, Nik began, ‘and our slogan is ‘the brand behind your brand’. We don’t have a branded product of our own, we’re an OEM producer. Our business is ‘business to business!’ We have partners all over the world in all the different channels, be it retail, the vending industry or coffee as an ingredient.bWe came to Vendex hoping to identify new distribution partners for the UK vending industry.’
Dr. Suwelack is not an invented name – there really is a Dr. Suwelack, a revered coffee expert, now living in his tenth decade. He’s man who has carved a unique place in military history, as Willy explained: ‘In the 1960’s, Nescafé approached Dr Suwelack and said, ‘can you please freeze-dry coffee for our soldiers in Vietnam? He said ‘OK, let me try to extract this coffee and freeze dry it.’ So that’s why we are known as the pioneers of freeze dried coffee, the first producers in the world.’
Raised eyebrows: ‘Wasn’t that Nescafé?’ asks Nik. ‘No’, Willy insists. ‘Nescafé were the first company to produce coffee extract, but we were the first to freeze-dry it, and we did it on behalf of Nescafé. That relationship lasted for fifteen years, until they built their own freeze drying facilities, first in Switzerland and then in Indonesia.’
‘These days, the Dr. Suwelack Head Office remains in the same location where the first freeze dried was produced’, Nik says, ‘and we now have 500 employees across three different business units, namely Coffee, Milk and Bakery. However, it’s fair to say that our principal focus is on coffee. In terms of instant coffee, our high-end freeze-dried coffee accounts for between four and six percent of global production.’
‘Blimey’, said I, the personification of journalistic professionalism. Not…
It’s easy to claim that your products are ‘high-quality’ and in an effort to redeem myself after my moment of awestruck amateurism, I asked how the ‘high-quality’ claim could be substantiated. There was a simple answer: ‘We have an aroma protection system and we’re proud that our customers say that our product comes the closest to the taste of freshly brewed coffee’, Nik says. ‘This is what makes us stand out from the other producers in the world.
‘We have a large assortment of coffees on offer’ he continues. ‘We have our Dr. Suwelack ABCD. ‘A’ stands for Amata. This is a range of single-origin coffee with the typical taste of the coffee beans’ country of origin, which could be Colombia, Ethiopia, Tanzania or Brazil.
‘B’ represents our Benita range of speciality coffees and it embraces espresso, certified coffees or organic coffees and also our decaffeinated products. ‘C’ is for Concerto, in which the singular characteristics of different provenances are combined into a unique blend. These are characterised by harmonious aromas and a good balance of acidity and mildness. ‘D’ is for Duo, our barista style offer consisting of innovative compositions made of freeze-dried coffee, rounded off with a portion of finely ground roast coffee.’
Slightly spoiling the ABCD symmetry, there’s another string to Dr. Suwelak’s bow: ‘Calida’. ‘These are special blends that we develop exclusively for individual, large volume customers’, Willy says. ‘These are customer-exclusive products that require a long-term partnership and specific minimum production amounts.’
Dr Suwelak, evidently, has got you covered – whatever you need your freeze-dried coffee offer to achieve… ‘Whatever your instant coffee requirements, Dr. Suwelak has the answer’ Nik says, reading my mind. ‘In terms of freeze-dried coffee, we’ve got the lot.’
So, if you have it in mind to have your own brand on your instant coffee, book an appointment with Dr. Suwelak. You may not have considered this route before, but Dr Suwelak offers an alternative source, which may well be worthy of your investigation…