BRITA Managing Director Peter Harley reflects on the company’s impact on the café industry and how it has educated its partners on the importance of water quality.
BRITA’s main objective has always been to find the best water filtration solutions for our clients. It has been committed to improving drinking water since 1966, and 56 years on, that goal has not changed.
From humble beginnings in Wiesbaden, Germany where our founder Heinz Hankammer made the first BRITA water jug, this family-owned business has made leaps and bounds in the world of water filtration, now operating in 69 countries across five continents.
Working with the coffee and tea industries for much of that time has given us insight into how we best to cater to these markets, with vital information on market needs from each country “filtered through” to our research and development team.
Today’s coffee culture means coffee enthusiasts are more discerning than ever when it comes to the quality of their coffee ingredients, including water, which makes up more than 95 per cent of the coffee. Water quality and composition have a fundamental impact on the flavour, aroma, mouthfeel, and crema of a coffee, and overtime, can also impact the functionality of the machinery used to produce it.
Here at BRITA, we draw on our extensive in-house experience to provide product recommendations tailored to local tap water conditions. Water hardness and quality differ across Australia, from state to state and town to town, meaning the best water solution for one customer could be completely different to another.
A big part of finding that solution is through training our partners and distributors, so they have the knowledge and resources to make an informed decision about water filtration. We strive to empower our dealers with knowledge, but we also benefit greatly from the insights they bring to us.
For example, our dealers tell us they often have customers who lack an understanding of water’s taste properties. To assist their understanding of water’s broad sensory experiences, Birgit Kohler, our very own water Sommelier and Head of our Organoleptic Department, has helped raise awareness to the value and chemical aspects of water.
Because people often lack words to describe the sensory attributes of water, Birgit’s team developed the sensory water wheel to help describe the sensory characteristics of water under the dimensions of taste, odour, and mouthfeel.
The water wheel was initially designed and used for panel training, however, we find it helpful to demonstrate the wide-ranging sensory parameters of water to our customers and café partners so they’re aware of the value and varied sensory qualities of water.
Water infuses through coffee to extract that wonderful liquid gold. It’s also used under pressure to produce steam to texture the milk, and let’s not forget the importance of balanced clean water to protect coffee machines from increased mineral build-up in the boiler, such as limescale, leading to the longer life of the espresso machine.
To us at BRITA, water is not only a science but a passion, and one that we share with our national business partner for coffee filters, Bombora Coffee + Water Supplies. Bombora has always played a key role in not only in the sales of our products, but more importantly, education surrounding the importance of water conditions and the effects non-filtered water can play on equipment and coffee profiles. Our past thought leadership pieces in BeanScene magazine have only strengthened our partnership as leaders in water education.
Since we discussed the importance of equipping a café with the right water filtration solution in the August 2021 edition of BeanScene, both companies have received enquiries around testing of water and have made filtration recommendations directly with cafés and technicians.
Our other thought leadership piece with Bombora in the April 2022 edition of BeanScene has also been impactful in changing customer perceptions of the impact of floodwater on water quality. The flood disaster earlier in the year hit many cafés in New South Wales and Queensland. It was an example that in such conditions, it’s not just the physical damage to properties that suffer, but the quality of water supply too. We really wanted to reiterate the message of clean, safe water for drinking and coffee use.
Passing on our filtration knowledge to other industry partners like Coffee Works Express has also empowered the company to become experts in water filter selection. The flow-on effect has elevated the reputation of both companies and in turn strengthened our relationship.
Water mapping is something that BRITA has undertaken globally as an educational tool for a better view of local conditions. BRITA’s detailed water map has been beneficial to Coffee Works Express as they often send equipment to remote areas, where they don’t have first-hand experience or understanding of the water quality.
The outcome of our mapping collaborations has also allowed Coffee Machine Technologies to stay informed of the local water conditions. It means it has the correct information to safely and confidently service customers outside of major cities.
Partnerships and the learning experience goes both ways. Working with Coffee Machine Technologies has also strengthened our knowledge of the local water conditions in Victoria.
As a result of Melbourne’s soft water areas with high particle densities, John Colangeli from Coffee Machine Technologies entrusts our range of filters such as our C50 Fresh and Quell range, to use with his own machines, such as his Viper independent milk steamer, and the many others he distributes for the Victorian market.
Coffee Machine Technologies has also taken an active role in adding an educational element of water filtration into all sales and service-related calls, in turn elevating the customer experience.
We’re very proud of these partnerships and are thrilled to celebrate their work through our collaboration with BeanScene. We have received so much great feedback from our dealers, especially from customers that have made the switch to BRITA and not only seen, smelt and tasted a positive difference on their coffee quality, but over the years have commented at how well their coffee machines have continued to work with minimal scale build-up.
While education will always be at the forefront of BRITA’s purpose, our global footprint and commitment to providing everyone with a sustainable drinking solution is another main aim. The demand for sustainable products has been steadily increasing for all manufacturers, and the products we bring into Australia follow protocols that keep this in mind.
BRITA is always striving to become better at keeping our planet safe. As a family business we need to do our part for future generations to come.
Our company has been a trusted brand within Australia for many years. It started with our consumer portfolio introducing Australians to our famous in-home jug systems. Naturally we progressed to manufacturing our professional range and within Australia many coffee dealers welcomed us with open arms, understanding we had a solid and recognisable brand presence and reputation.
Australia is a unique country and one that BRITA intends on supporting with outstanding sustainable water solutions for many years to come.
For more information, visit www.brita.com.au
This article appears in the June 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.