Beyers Koffie, the coffee roasting company based in Puurs-Sint-Amands with roots that go back to 1880, is one of the largest private label coffee roasters in Central Europe. With branches in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. "We were the first to produce the popular coffee pads in private label," says a proud CFO, Eric Cornelis. Expertise, quality and sustainability are the main values that are vertically integrated throughout the business.
What does the slogan of Beyers Koffie ‘Taking coffee further’ mean to you personally?
Eric Cornelis: The slogan has a dual meaning for me. On the one hand, it's a promise to our customers and, more generally, to future generations of this world. We want to take care of our planet and guarantee that everyone can continue to drink our coffee.
On the other hand, there's the physical aspect. At Beyers Koffie we are fully vertically integrated. In concrete terms, this means that we manage the entire chain from the plantations to final processing, which is quite unique within the coffee world. We’re taking it literally 'further' than what other players in the market do."
What are your plans for the future?
"Currently we process about 20,000 tonnes of green coffee per year, but our ambition is to triple production to 60,000 tonnes per year. Of course, this is impossible through organic growth alone, so acquisitions are pretty high on our agenda."
One of your main values is entrepreneurship. How do you apply this within your organisation?
"Entrepreneurship has been in our DNA since Beyers Koffie was founded in 1880. We are pretty quick to pick up on new things and like to keep it moving. For instance, we were the first to install vacuum and pad lines and we built up a lot of expertise on Nespresso capsules. We also don’t just want to produce and deliver coffee to our customers, but also think along with them, just like you do. What are their needs or how can we serve them better?
Our auditor, Ignace Robberechts is a true sparring partner, with whom we analyse challenges, test ideas and ambitions. Tailored to our needs, in all confidence and in a human way. We speak the same language. And Ignace takes the time to really listen."
What are the main challenges for Beyers Koffie?
"Like many organisations and companies, there is a lot of focus on energy efficiency - especially now that energy costs are skyrocketing. Sustainability is high on our agenda, so we are constantly looking for ways to roast more coffee using less energy. Of course, we've been doing this longer than today: we've been only buying electricity from renewable sources since 2009 and our roastery has been carbon-neutral since 2014.
People often associate 'sustainability' with 'more expensive', but they tend to forget the economic and ethical value of the sustainability story. Coffee is a product that moves with the world economy and therefore its price has also risen sharply. The negative impact of the corona crisis certainly played a role, but also the bad weather in some countries that grow coffee beans."