For many people across the globe, from those who start their day with a rich brew, to others relying on their afternoon caffeine hit – whether it’s an espresso, latte or mocha – the ritual of drinking coffee is an essential part of life.
Arguably, no nation values coffee in quite the same way as the Italians, for whom the drink is deeply ingrained in their culinary culture.
So when it comes to producing a quality cappuccino, it’s a responsibility Caffè Borbone takes very seriously.
“Borbone is a phenomenon, sort of a white unicorn in the coffee market,” CEO Marco Schiavon tells The CEO Magazine. “It’s an incredible combination of instinct and the cleverness of its Neapolitan entrepreneur, Massimo Renda, with an extraordinary passion about product and production, industrialization and efficiency.”
Founded in 1997 in Naples, Caffè Borbone has since established itself as a clear industry leader. Today, the company is part of the Italmobiliare Group, a formidable pairing that Schiavon says is key to its success.
“We have the organization and capability to build up procedures, while at the same time boasting a long view thanks to the financial equity Italmobiliare offers us,” he says.
“Even thinking to the cultural origins, we are from opposite ends of Italy – Italmobiliare comes from the north, and Massimo comes from the south – and this combined is absolutely an extraordinary match of capabilities.”
A particular point of pride for Schiavon is Caffè Borbone’s dedication to sustainable practices and products across the entirety of the supply chain, from where and how the beans are grown, right through to how its coffee pods are disposed of.
Not only do its plants operate using either renewable energy sources or low-carbon-footprint fuels, but the company is also constantly drawing inspiration from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Last year, Caffè Borbone was awarded the ‘Silver Sustainability Rating’ by the EcoVadis platform.
Impressively, Caffè Borbone offers recyclable packaging, with 45 percent of the single-serve products made from certified compostable coffee pods. In addition, the paper and cardboard used for packaging are also made using at least 70 percent FSC-certified materials, meaning they are sourced from sustainably managed forests or recycled.
“We produce roughly 1.5 billion paper pods per year, which are internally compostable. But I need to drive the company to become even more sustainable in the future. So now, 50 percent of our production is green,” Schiavon says.
“But we have a very challenging target for the next two-to-three years. Now we are buying certified coffee and want to exceed 50 percent in 2025, to be around 80 percent of certified coffee from certified regions in 2026.”
A key part of their sustainability strategy is working with suppliers who share Caffè Borbone’s passion in this regard.
“Since the beginning, Massimo chose to grow supporting local partners, some of whom we have long-lasting relationships with,” Schiavon explains.
“So we have some big international partners for a few key things, but for other solutions we have fantastic local partners who support us, such as SEDA International Packaging Group, who bring us sustainable packaging solutions.”
While Schiavon explains that for most large-scale Italian coffee companies, their business is primarily international, Caffè Borbone has managed to successfully win over fans from the toughest coffee critics – Italians themselves.
“Our market so far is 90 percent domestic and only 10 percent abroad,” he says. “If you compare that with other companies, they are the opposite. So we have in front of us incredible opportunities for internationalization.”
Indeed, Caffè Borbone is well placed to expand, given the majority of products are sold online and through platforms such as Amazon.
“We are naturally a digital brand. Borbone is tremendously strong in the indoor market, in the mass market and through professional channels – so capsule-specialized stores. We are tremendously strong on Amazon, as well as other websites and our own B2C and direct ecommerce,” Schiavon explains.
“So we combine and we cover all channels. And this is very important point of uniqueness for Borbone. We are very strong in all consumer channels.”