Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
Coffee is one of the most favorite hot drinks among people working in advertising. They solve creative problems along with it, creates ideas, fight battles with deadlines and pitches, it keeps us awake when all we’d like to do is crash into bed but have no time. Coffee is the one to welcome guests and encourage conversation, but also marks the end of a social gathering in our culture.
People often associate our web portal with coffee. Many say that they first make coffee for themselves in the morning, read the news on Media Marketing and then get down to work.
We drink plenty of coffee, but how much do we really know about it, how much do we ever try to find out and learn about it? That mostly depends on how passionate of coffee drinkers we are, how much we care about the quality and taste of the coffee we drink. Is coffee a habit for us and we reach for it automatically, or do we drink it when we really feel the need and desire for it? How much time do we have for coffee? The Bedouins in the Arabian deserts roast and mill coffee before each meal. “Turkish” coffee is produced today, ready to be very easily prepared in less than a minute. And another one about the Bedouins. They say that coffee has to be hot as love and bitter as death.
Today we wish to tell you a pleasant story about coffee, the drink which often means so much to us. We also selected the best partner for this conversation, Lejla Dautović Čaić, Marketing Director of the Strategic Business Sector of Coffee in Atlantic Grupa, regional leader in coffee production. Will you eventually get a complete story about your favorite drink? I do not believe that we will. There are so many interesting details about coffee based on which one can tell countless stories, impossible to accommodate in one interview. But as each journey begins with a first step, this interview is one of the stories we will tell on our future journey into the world of coffee.
Lejla Dautović Čaić has completed studies in the field of pharmaceutics. She happened to get a job at Pliva Cosmetics, which separated into an independent company – Neva, the same year. In 2003, Neva was acquired by Atlantic Grupa and Lejla began to work on the research and development of Neva. A year later, she was offered a position in the marketing department. She accepted it and began to lead the Plidenta brand. Marketing, she says, attracted her with its dynamics. Research and development are creative processes in which new products are being created, but these processes were too slow for Lejla, they required their time. She went into marketing without knowing anything about it. She was lucky to have been surrounded by colleagues with marketing experience. She learned some basics from them and then continued to educate herself by the time she learned everything about marketing. Three years later, being a pharmacist after all, she transitioned from Neva to Belupo, wishing to see how marketing would work there. At that time, the OTC business was just in its beginnings in our region, the first advertising of drugs was under way. Belupo was the pioneer in Croatia. It was very Interesting, as she had the opportunity to create a strategy from the very beginning. Lejla spent seven very interesting and dynamic years in Belupo. One day her phone rang. It was a call from Atlantic Grupa, an offer to return to Neva as the Marketing Director. She accepted. After a year, alongside Neva, she also became the Marketing Director for the Cedevita brand, that is – the Health and Care Division. A couple of years later, for the third time, she returned to Neva, as the head of the entire company. Two years ago, Atlantic Grupa offered her to join the Strategic Business Segment of Coffee. Thus, after 25 years of living in Zagreb, she packed her suitcases and moved to Belgrade with her children, to the Atlantic Grupa’s headquarters of the Strategic Business Sector of Coffee.
Asked if she regrets her decision, she resolutely answers: “I don’t, of course. It’s a very interesting business, plus an excellent team with which I work. The coffee segment in the Atlantic Grupa is made up of two big brands: Barcaffè, covering Slovenia, Croatia and a complete HORECA channel, and Grand kafa, covering the markets of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro. These are two brands, but the helpful circumstance is that they are part of the same company, the same corporate culture, the processes are similar, which is easier in a way, when you know the environment, the company and the culture well. On the other hand, coffee is a completely new category for me. When viewed from the side, things look totally different. I realized just how little I know about coffee, only when I started working in this business.”
MM: Why is it that we call the traditionally prepared coffee “Turkish” in our region, when we know that the Turks drink tea, not coffee?
Lejla Dautović Čaić: I think it’s because the Turks brought coffee to our region. It is only the Turks, Greeks and us who prepare coffee in the traditional way. The rest of the world drinks filter coffee. It is, in a way, the same coffee, only sweated through a filter in the rest of the world and having a slightly different taste. We drink a lot of coffee in our region, , but it is wrong to think that we drink the most. The Finns are the champions in coffee drinking. When you hear the story about the path of coffee, the selection, the way it is grown, all the possible combinations of flavors, it’s really something fantastic.
MM: How do you choose coffee?
Lejla Dautović Čaić: Coffee is chosen in a very specific way. You have the so-called cup tasters, people who first try raw coffee and decide on certain types based on that. Of course, for each brand there is a specific mix. You have coffee of the same geographical origin, that is, from one and the same country, and the blends which are most common in our region and are made in different combinations.
The two basic types of coffee are Arabica and Robusta. We mainly buy Arabica in South American markets and in Central America, while Robusta comes from Africa and Asian countries. When you look at the map of the world and draw the belt around Equator, it’s your coffee belt, the region where coffee grows. Different types of coffee differ in size and shape of beans, taste and aroma. Each coffee has its own recipe and each brand has its own blend.
MM: You mentioned earlier that there are countless stories about coffee. Which one do you like most?
Lejla Dautović Čaić: My favorite are the ways people perceive coffee. There are stories about coffee, and those which go along with coffee. Coffee is not just a drink in our culture. Coffee represents a moment for oneself. An invitation to go for a coffee is an invitation to talk. Basically, whenever you haven’t seen someone for a long time, the most common question you would ask is: “When do we go for a coffee?”, regardless of whether you drink coffee or not. Coffee is synonymous with socializing, conversations and a stories, and this link is what attracts me most.
In addition to that, I am fascinated by the fact little known to people – that coffee has more aromatic compounds than wine. You know how it is with wine. You have a better or a poorer harvest, and you choose the wine by the year when there was more sunshine. A very similar story is with coffee. It is a true art to create always a quality product of something that is subject to change and different natural influences. Each harvest of coffee is different. What I like is the whole science behind the selection of coffee. Just as you have sommeliers who are experts in wine, so you have people who are professionals in tasting coffee. In our region there are very few of them. We are fortunate to have some of them working in our company. Their work requires enormous enthusiasm, love, desire and will for education. You can find a sommelier course even in Sarajevo, go, listen and become knowledgeable about wine. It’s not that simple with coffee.
MM: What are we like, as coffee lovers, in this region?
Lejla Dautović Čaić: Diverse. If you look at the Balkans as a region, there are areas differing according to what kind of coffee people like to drink. In Serbia, black coffee is most popular, often consumed without the addition of sugar and milk. In Bosnia, the situation is somewhat different because 40% of people drink coffee with milk. A similar situation is in Slovenia and Croatia, where there is also a significant percentage of people drinking coffee with milk. Montenegrins love a very, very roasted coffee. Such coffee is liked by people in some regions of the south of Serbia too.
MM: How do you adapt to these different tastes and habits as a manufacturer?
Lejla Dautović Čaić: We have two great brands with a long tradition and we pay great attention to choosing the coffee we buy. We care about quality. The first control is performed on the plantation where the coffee is selected. The next one is performed when the coffee is loaded onto the ship. The third control is performed on unloading and the fourth at the entrance to our factory when the coffee is put into operation.
Barcaffè and Grand kafa are different brands and different coffee blends adapted to the tastes of the markets they are sold in. What is specific to Grand kafa is that it is produced on stone mills. It is a “warm” grinding of coffee giving a specific taste, aroma and a rich foam when the coffee is prepared. In Montenegro, coffee is exclusively sold with a stronger taste. In our portfolio we also have Grand Aroma, which is a little milder, more modern and lighter. We try to satisfy different tastes, through various brands we have in our portfolio. At the same time, we must be aware that we sell something that is a semi-product, something you prepare at home, or in your office. When it comes to espresso, we can offer the best coffee blends but it’s necessary to know the famous 5Ms – the basic rules every true barista needs to know in order to prepare top espresso. These rules were taken from the Italian language. Everything begins with miscele, a specially prepared blend of coffee, which is the basis of the top-notch espresso. Only the best quality Barcaffè coffee beans and the special roasting guarantee the optimal combination of taste and flavor. The ideal quantity for one cup is 7 g, or exactly 42 coffee beans. Then the coffee is grinded with a milling machine (machina dozatore), releasing the flavors. Without proper grinding, even with the best mixture, you will not achieve the ideal taste. Through coarsely milled grains, the water goes too fast and therefore the oils and aromas of coffee cannot dissolve. On the other hand, through the grains grinded too finely, the water fails to pass. It is not possible to make a good espresso without an adequate appliance (macchina espresso). The professional barista machine has a whole range of technical parameters. The water temperature should be between 88 – 92°C, the pressure 9 bar and the coffee extraction time 25 to 30 seconds. The technology of the espresso preparation depends on the skill of barista. Barcaffè barista knows how much coffee should be put in a spoon of the coffee machine, how much the coffee is to be pressed. He has a feeling for a well-made espresso for which the mixture is specifically determined, the cups are properly warmed, the coffee flows slowly and from the side. It is also important to regularly maintain the appliance (manu tenzione), especially those parts, which play the key role in coffee preparation. Removing calcifications and coffee deposits is another important aspect of maintenance. Calcifications reduce the efficiency of use, and the fats which can be present in the coffee deposits can change the taste of the coffee into something unrecognizable. So, it’s really a whole science.
MM: Who are baristas?
Lejla Dautović Čaić: Baristas are experts in the preparation of espresso coffee in cafés. Preparing espresso coffee has some of its own postulates which have be respected. With only one look, professionals can tell you whether the coffee is too bitter, whether the mill is tuned in such a way that it roasts the coffee too much when grinding it, whether the water flows through too quickly, giving coffee a very specific taste, it does not look good for it does not have the foam, It’s so specific. Baristas deal with the complete technology of coffee preparation. As I said, we produce a semi-product. What kind of coffee will you drink in the end, does not depend only on us, but also on the one who prepares your coffee and the machine he prepares it with.
MM: If one behaves irresponsibly towards coffee and the equipment with which it is being prepared, that can ultimately affect your image. How do you fight against this?
Lejla Dautović Čaić: We invest a lot in the education of our partners. In each country we employ professional baristas who have different certificates for the work they do. These guys are extremely dedicated to their, love what they do and are, ultimately, very careful about controlling coffee. We do a lot of one-on-one work with our partners; our baristas visit cafés which work with our products and train their staff. A few years back, we introduced the Barista Tour. We kicked-off with Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia, and now we will do it throughout the region. On one hand, we educate the staff working with coffee, on the other we educate the consumers explaining to them what a good coffee actually is, so that they could appreciate one. The culture of espresso in our region is still developing. The Slovenians and the Croats have gone the furthest so far. Probably due to the influence of the proximity to Italy, but this trend is slowly spreading to the rest of the region. We want our consumer to know what they can expect from the coffee they order in a café. We also educate the owner and the staff to prepare and properly treat the coffee. We provide our partners with service and any other kind of support so that this semi-product, which we sell to them in a bag, would end up on the table tomorrow as an ideal espresso. Until a few years ago, cafés differed by name, by the interior and the music they played. Today they differ by the quality of the coffee they serve. In October, the largest coffee fair in this part of Europe was held in Trieste and we appeared as an exhibitor for the first time. We have invited several of our partners, the owners of cafés, as our guests, to get to know the flavors of coffee on the spot, see new equipment and everything that is related to coffee. It is very important for our partners be educated. When you come to the café, you do not have more types of coffee. You have one and if that one is not made right, it is not good.
MM: Let’s get back to classical coffee. What is the market like, who do you fight against for a place on the shelves?
Lejla Dautović Čaić: We are the largest regional coffee producer and leader in all the countries in which we operate, except in Croatia where we are number two. Barcaffè is number one in Slovenia with over 70% of the market. This is a fantastic product which will celebrate its 50th birthday in 2020. Grand kafa celebrated its 20th year last year. They are both brands with a long tradition. We strive to ensure that our coffee is available to consumers, so its distribution is very important. We are one of the largest distribution companies in the region, we have partner companies with which we have been cooperating for many years. The foundation of success of each of our brands is the trust. The buyer knows that he will get the same quality, the best coffee, each time he buys our product.
On the other hand, Turkish coffee, or freshly roasted minced coffee, is still the most dominant part of the category in coffee. It makes up over 90 percent if you observe volumes, or 80 percent if you observe consumption. It’s interesting to observe household penetration. We are present in 99 percent of all households in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
MM: What are your experiences with quickly prepared coffee, with Black ‘n’ Easy?
Lejla Dautović Čaić: Young people drink plenty of coffee just because, unlike our generation, they have a much larger and wider choice. When the older generations were entering the world of coffee, freshly ground, or traditional coffee, was the only choice. Today, young people enter the world of coffee through white coffee, cappuccino, macchiato, through mixtures containing more milk, etc. What has changed over the past thirty years is that people drink more different types of coffee. Traditional coffee is still the most consumed. We launched Black ‘n’ Easy in 2015 with the desire to enable all those who wish to have a real, high quality coffee, to prepare their cup in a minute, which is really important to young people with their tempo of life. Black ‘n’ Easy brings exactly this experience of real coffee in a short time. This coffee was created as an innovation driven by the needs of consumers. We’ve explored what young consumers want and offered them exactly that – top quality coffee which they can prepare at home in the morning when they are in a rush, in the university, at work, wherever they are. After having done this, we went a step further and produced “Turkish” coffee in a capsule and promoted it at the Weekend Media Festival in Rovinj. People are thrilled with capsules because they can’t make a mistake, their coffee is always the same.
MM: Where are the limits when it comes to innovation with coffee?
Lejla Dautović Čaić: There are no limits. Everything changes, so do consumers, their habits and tastes. As they change, we will change along with them, we will adapt to them in an effort to always be their first choice when it comes to coffee. Will the modes of preparation, or the raw materials, the technology, change, I do not know. We will listen and react. And not every innovation has to be a revolution, evolution is enough, things evolving and moving forward. After all, as a market leader, we are obliged to change and create trends. Trends and innovations are a necessary consequence of the passion with which we are living our daily work.
MM: What are your experiences in cooperation with creative agencies? You have won many festival awards so far. Which agencies do you cooperate with?
Lejla Dautović Čaić: Creative agencies are important partners in our work and, as a rule, when we choose an agency in a pitch, we cooperate with it for many years. Currently, we work with Afirma and Idea Plus as our creative agencies. This cooperation has been lasting for years. Our main goal is to create a long-term communication platform and develop understanding and trust with our customers. Each story can be told in several ways, and when you tell a story in a creative, different way which reflects your values and reaches your consumers (and festival juries), then you know that you have done a good job. I think that it is precisely the long-term cooperation and the understanding of both the category and the brand with which you work, what makes the basis of good cooperation with the agencies. Everything is based on a relationship, a good and quality brief, on one, courage and creativity, on the other hand. When you align everything, you know that you have a jack pot.
MM: Does this mean that you do not call a pitch for each campaign?
Lejla Dautović Čaić: We don’t, we call pitches every few years or when we do some big communication platforms for which we want to get as many different views and approaches. We deeply cultivate partnership relations with the agencies we work with and we believe that this personal trust and understanding are the basis for every good story.