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Cafetto: The people’s brand

BeanScene speaks to Cafetto customers who have supported the brand over the past 15 years thanks to its commitment and passion to the industry it serves. 

When contacting some of the businesses Cafetto holds longstanding relationships with, all of them shared two things in common: a wonderful portrayal of the man behind the brand, Managing Director Christopher Short, and they all proudly claim to be “one of the first” Cafetto customers. 

“Chris and I go way back,” says Matthew Galea of Suntory Coffee Australia. 

“Chris approached myself and Murray Takle, then Espresso Mechanics Customer Service Manager. Chris was launching the Cafetto brand into the market [as a cleaning solutions manufacturer] and came to visit our office in Seven Hills. Little did Chris know we were having some issues with our supply of coffee cleaning tablets from another supplier that kept breaking down. Chris happened to say: ‘I have a solution for you if you would care to try our products.’ So we did, and have never looked back.”

Equipment supplier Espresso Mechanics started using Cafetto’s range at its warehouse. It also included it with the sale of any commercial range of traditional and super automatic machine.

“The product is outstanding. It’s reliable, it does what it’s meant to do, and most of all it’s Australian made,” Matthew says. 

“As our economy navigates through a recession, it’s vital for us to partner with local business to help improve the livelihood of Australian families, and recover our economy and the Australian coffee industry.”

On a personal front, Matthew says it’s Cafetto’s brand loyalty to customers and Christopher’s can-do attitude that have seen the companies maintain their relationship.

“From the first day we met, nothing has been an issue for Chris and his team working with the Suntory group on supply and new product development,” Matthew says.

When Phillip Di Bella, Chairman of Di Bella Group of Companies, started Di Bella Coffee in 2002, he was on the lookout for a product that cleaned coffee machines. Back then, it wasn’t a top consideration for many people, he says. 

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Christopher Short (right) has attended and supported industry trade events for the past 15 years, in his iconic bright blazer.

“Using the right equipment and maintaining equipment cleanliness was about education. Chris and I worked closely, and we built a strong relationship, even over a few wines,” Phillip says.  

Like Christopher, Phillip started Di Bella Coffee as a ‘one-man band’. Over the years, he has watched Christopher and his team grow the Cafetto brand, while he nurtured his own coffee empire. 

“Chris and I share the same philosophy. We’re about people, being present in what we do and our values align,” he says.

“Cafetto is a professional brand and the team are outstanding in what they do. There’s a real science behind their work. What I love is how open they are to innovation and their mindset of building products based on customer needs. They reach out to people like myself to ask: ‘what’s working, what’s not, and what do customers want?’” 

Phillip says the most successful Cafetto product to him, aside from its EVO backflushing cleaner, is its milk cleaning products, especially the one designed for super automatic machines and the home barista range.

“So many people can blame the equipment when things aren’t tasting right, but it’s important to look after the equipment they’re using, and Cafetto gives home consumers that option,” Phillip says.

Charles Stephens of Espresso Company Australia (ECA) first came across the Cafetto brand at the Rocks Aroma Festival in Sydney. In those “early years” some 15 years ago, Charles set up his stand with a trestle table, backdrop, and “some other” brand of cleaning product on display. 

It didn’t take long before a man walked up to Charles and exclaimed: “what have you got that on your stand for?” Christopher brought over a box of his own cleaning products, took the ‘others’ down, and left them on the stand for the remainder of the event. 

An importer of mainly Italian-made coffee equipment, at the time, Charles had no idea there was another brand of cleaning solution made a lot closer to home. He laughs about their initial tongue-in-cheek experience, but says it was that very meeting that started a terrific relationship and friendship. 

“Cafetto is a brand that’s synonymous with clean espresso machines,” Charles says. “At ECA, we are obliged to promote good cleaning practices to everyone who has ever purchased a domestic Rocket and VBM espresso machine for their home via our network of specialty coffee retailers and roasters over the past 20 years.”

Inside each machine box is a Cafetto starter pack of eight little tablets, much like a Panadol Blister Pack of Cafetto group head backwashing solution. Charles has also introduced Chris to the Italian manufacturers of Rocket Espresso machines, who have embraced the Cafetto brand. 

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Cafetto has built a reputation for its reliable products that deliver what the industry needs.

“Cafetto is the only product you need for effective cleaning of your espresso machine, grinder, and milk jug,” Charles says. “It’s great for cleaning the inside of a bean hopper. Regular backwashing of the machine’s group head is also critical as it becomes clogged with sugars and oils that harden as time goes by. This can be altura

to break down, but a clever product like Cafetto will always do the trick.”

Pre-COVID-19 lockdown when industry events were held almost monthly around the world, Charles says Christopher would be a welcome face at most international trade shows he would attend.

“Chris is a professional, old fashioned, and ethical operator who values relationships. Chris puts people first, product second,” Charles says. “To see the growth of the company, and of the Cafetto name internationally, has been terrific. I’m patriotic too. In fact, I don’t think there’s any reason for any other Australian to not use an Australian product like Cafetto.”

Across the ditch to our Kiwi friends, the word “Cafetto” is synonymous with coffee cleaning equipment, but it wasn’t always so. 

Chris White, Director of Altura Coffee Co, says when he first started his roasting business in Auckland, the coffee industry was a small market with limited options of products, including cleaning agents. 

Back in 2004, he was working with Carl Sara who, at the time, had entered the New Zealand Barista Championship. Chris told him that if he won, he’d accompany him to the World Barista Championship in Trieste, Italy. He did, and on their way over, the pair stopped by Sydney for the Hospitality Live trade show where they stumbled upon the Cafetto booth.

“There was Chris, standing in his now iconic bright green blazer. I introduced myself and told him about my business. Chris was just starting out and told me he was keen to get some traction for his brand over the ditch. So, we become Cafetto’s first New Zealand customer,” Chris White says.

“Many suppliers don’t often take the time to understand the industry they market to, but Chris couldn’t be more involved. He’s been a major supporter of our business, and of the New Zealand specialty coffee industry, sponsoring the New Zealand Barista Championship and its Roasters Guild.”

At the roastery, Altura Coffee Co includes 100-gram samples of Cafetto espresso machine cleaner with each commercial machine it sells. As of late, Chris says the increase in domestic machine sales means a new demographic is becoming familiar with the Cafetto range.

“We’ve sold out of our domestic machinery and have done more training with home users about how to get the best from the coffee equipment they’ve dug out of the garage. As a result, we’ve sold so much more Cafetto cleaning products to the domestic market,” he says.

In particular, Chris says the Cafetto Organic Espresso EVO and Brew Clean are the most popular sellers for traditional espresso machine cleaning, followed by Grinder Clean. 

“The quality of Cafetto’s products and service has been second to none. What’s most impressive is that Chris believes in his product. He understands your wants and needs. If you make a suggestion or product recommendation to him, he’ll go and create it for you. Chris always says, ‘yes, we can do that’. He’s always thinking of new products that can improve the equipment we work,” Chris says.

“It’s been a great relationship the whole way along – long may it continue.” 

For more information, visit www.cafetto.com

This article appears in the October 2020 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.