Novell Cafes

“Do what seems right to you, whatever you decide will seem right to me.” With these words, Ramon RomanFounding the company that bears his last name in 1958, he passed management of the company to his children. In the late 1980s, he asked a very difficult question for the founder of a family business: “Do you want to continue the business?” And they did. some young brothers ramon, Joseph Y Pains, just over 20 years old, they agreed and the factory, just 300 meters in the center of Vilafranca del Penedès (Barcelona), was transferred to a commercial area of ​​2,500 square meters. (Later expansion to currently almost 8,000).

“When we came here, we were the first company on the property,” recalls Ramon Novell Jr., who joined the company in 1990 with a degree in business administration. Then a second phase of the company begins, which focuses on a growth project. “If we wanted to grow, we had to change some of the old structures,” says Novell.

The price factor, the key to the deal

Novell coffees is a high-end coffee roasting and marketing company. You work for the hospitality industry. Its customers are essentially bars and restaurants. “Our biggest customer is the traditional canteen, where 90% of our bills come from. It’s a very competitive market where price is a big factor. The fluctuations in the price of coffee depending on the quality are enormous. The range can range from 5 euros to 25 euros per kilo. The cheapest usually go to the machines. sale. Or to the supermarkets. “This is not our country. We work in the highest realms. That is why the coffee that goes to the hotel industry is so different from that in the supermarkets.”

The benefits of a cup of coffee are very high. They calculate that one kilo of coffee beans can produce 140 cups. In Spain, 535 million cups of coffee are served in bars and cafeterias every week. “The price difference per cup is cents. That is why we promote the highest quality coffee to ensure the return of the end customer.”

The role of the distribution network

When the Novell brothers took over, they first changed the distribution network. “Although the commercials were internal, the client was almost their legacy. We also had some distributors. We have decided to set up a well-structured commercial department with a director, francesco canals, that is still in the company and eliminate all distributors”. This was one of the most difficult and risky decisions. By then they were spread out in a very local area.

They decided to expand territorially and gradually formed delegations. First in Barcelona and then in Madrid, Valencia and Zaragoza. They spent time in the delegations until it started. At Novell, they work via auto-sale. The commercials drive past every customer who transports their products in the vans every week. Madrid and Barcelona are the only ones that work in presale.

They currently have 4,000 hospitality clients that they cater to. Each week, either the representative himself or a specialized technician checks the machines and checks all the details that make for a good coffee.

a certified coffee

“Besides the territorial expansion, our second goal was to only work with certified coffee that guarantees minimum conditions for the farmers at the place of origin. We considered it for the long term because it’s an important price plus. It was also clear to us that this plus should be taken over in the value chain, i.e. by us and our customers, but that it should cost just as much for the end customer. Today, more than 80% of our hospitality sales are certified coffee,” explains Novell, adding that “the certificates initially assured you of good working conditions, but they weren’t necessarily of good quality. The first came in fair trade shops, but they were poor and expensive. Already today, responsible coffees are of good quality.” Today they have taken another step by focusing on organic coffee. “The last four we’ve released are, and we don’t intend to release a new one that isn’t organic.”

Pioneers in compostable capsules

A few years ago they decided to open up to traditional foods, especially the capsule. This market has represented a change in consumer habits. Today, 7 out of 10 Spanish households use capsules and 56% every day. Spain is the third largest country in the world for capsule sales. That’s why they decided to take the plunge. “We thought about marketing coffee in capsules, but we decided it should be compostable as the amount of waste that capsules generate is enormous.”

In 2017, they brought out the first, which was made of biodegradable plastic. But they kept researching together with the Bafs company, until in 2019 they launched the first compostable and waterproof product that preserves the properties of coffee without the need to use aluminum and without generating waste. “We invested a million to get an ecological capsule that maintains the quality.”

quality control

Every day of the week. Four people from Cafés Novell taste some coffee samples that just arrived from Brazil. Including Ramon and Josep Novell, Michael Rovira (quality department) and James Freixedes, the Q Grader, the company’s coffee specialist. (If we were talking about wines, it would be the oenologist). They will decide if they think it’s good coffee to buy. If this is the case, a few months later, when the order is sent to them, they check a new sample of the container that just arrived at the port, and then a third of the container that actually arrives at the company. You can do two or three tastings a week. Product control is permanent.

“We buy green coffee at the source,” explains Novell. “We are not assigned to any sales group. We have about twenty types of coffee that we make this with mixture (mixtures). coffee is one Was Complex sale. It is purchased months in advance, it is bought on the stock market and in dollars to ensure currency exchange. The harvests are at specific times, but once collected they are processed and preserved very well.” Brazil is the world’s leading producer with a 30% market share, followed by Vietnam with 20% and Colombia with 9%.

But quality is something the Novell family doesn’t just apply to the product. Of course also to the corporate values. “We are guided by three values. On the one hand social responsibility. On the other hand, customer orientation and, last but not least, innovation. As we make decisions on the board, we ask ourselves if this agreement answers those three questions,” said Ramon Novell. With this in mind, the entire management of the company has imposed these principles as a commitment to its business philosophy and strategy. Social responsibility is built into the business model and is not responsive to any specific action. They have received various awards for this.

When it comes to customer orientation, they are clear. “If you charge a customer a price, you can not only sell them coffee, but also something else. You have to offer him all your experience so he can raise the price of the average day pass. And that by expanding the range with more added value. We know a lot about the work behind the bar and the bars that make the most money and those that don’t and we analyze why.”

They have a team of trainers who teach the customers different techniques and how to better process the product. “Coffee franchises have a higher average ticket price because, among other things, they have menus that offer their products that people eat with their eyes.” With that in mind, they have letters designed and fleshed out for their customers.

They have started selling infusions in their shop. “If they ask you for an IV, why do you have to give the typical one? For example, we offer 12 varieties in pyramid bags and another 15 organic varieties with better designed packaging.”

They also distribute chocolate. A cold product with superfoods is new to the portfolio. With the confinement they have developed a line of bring away. “We tell our customers to consider three lines of business: indoor, the terrace and take away. And that should be a line of business, not a consequence of the situation. Look for targeted advertising and explain which products you are good at selling.”

Coffee accounts for 80% of its sales and other complementary products for 20%.

The commitment to internationalization

Five years ago, the company made the decision to create an international division and they followed a process that led them to be present in 24 countries. “When we started, we decided to go to the most difficult place, Milan (that was in 2008). Now we have a delegation of three people. In the international area they work together with local distributors. Their main market is the Middle East countries, England and China, where they opened a front with an English partner and so far have opened five coffee shops called Espuma.

Every Monday, six people from the management of Café Novell meet to bring various projects to the table and to define strategies. Other cross-departmental groups work on innovative new projects. Over a cup of coffee, new responsible, supportive, innovative ideas are cooked, aimed at the interest of their customers. Responsible coffee.


-30M on your statement

-They sell 1,400 tons per year

The company has 230 employees

-4,000 customers throughout Spain

-Export to 24 countries