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Macchiavelli: ‘We′re ready to face all kinds of technological challenges to suit the market’

Machiavelli capsules

BOLOGNA, Italy — In the fourth installment dedicated to Macchiavelli, a company specialized in the production of compatible capsules for the main systems on the market, we are going to analyze its production strategies. Company spokesman is the chief executive, Davide Macchiavelli.

Your production is very specific: only capsules for coffee and and other soluble products. What are the reasons of this choice?

“We have a lot of exciting ideas on the back burner, both for the coffee market and for other industries. Today, however, the world of portioned coffee is extremely dynamic and to keep up with an increasing demand we have to focus our energies. For now, we will keep investing in this market. In the future, we don’t rule out exploring other avenues.”

When are we going to see the results of what you’re working on right now?

“We need a couple of years to complete all of the ongoing projects and during this time we will continue to focus on what we’re already doing. Coffee is still our main market, because it keeps showing a consistent growth and these trends promise to continue for a long time. It is a challenging market, extremely technologically advanced, and I find this very exciting.

Our staff is purely technical, and I have studied and worked in product design as well. All of this allows us to better understand the needs and processes of roasters.

Listening to the clients and visiting them frequently is essential, even during Covid, so as to really experience their needs first-hand, understand their problems and figure out how we can improve. Our technical expertise helps us identify needs and refine our solutions.”

Macchiavelli is focused on development and innovation: you offer a turn-key product. What are the benefits?

“Within the company, we have the entire supply chain needed for the capsule development: from the engineering department to the mechanical workshop that produces our equipment, to the production floor, which includes injection molding, thermoforming and assembly. All of this ensures the highest safety, quality, and timeliness.

I’ll give you a concrete example: when we launched our Espresso di Caffè Vergnano capsule, Nespresso not only started legal disputes, it also modified their capsules and machines, in reaction to the technological challenge we had brought. Specifically, it changed the drip head in the capsule seal area.

Thanks to our self-sufficiency in terms of engineering and production, in only 2 months we were been able to come up with a technical solution which improved the seal of our capsule, scaling its production and adjusting all of our production equipment. This is a concrete example of the flexibility that the client appreciates in Macchiavelli. We are ready to face different kinds of technological changes and challenges to give the market what it needs.”

Have you ever thought of filling the capsules as well?

“Somebody asked us to do that, but we don’t think it’s consistent with our growth goals. Besides, it would go against the interests of our customers, turning us into a potential competitor. Again, I have a lot of respect for the expertise of other companies: coffee production requires years of experience and a different marketing model than our current B2B model. It would involve a structural, organizational and customer change that is impossible to improvise.”

You serve a wide customer base, from small roasters to big multinationals: what is the difference?

“There are several differences between companies, but often there are also similarities. An important aspect is understanding attitudes: it’s obvious that big companies need long-term work plans with scheduled deliveries, while smaller businesses require a higher flexibility, that takes into account possible unexpected issues. Today the supply chain is strained, and variations can lead to negative repercussions. It’s essential that we anticipate the demand.”

In short, what is Macchiavelli’s corporate culture?

“Never settle and constant attention towards the client. The results of this vision are innovation, sustainability and safety, the three pillars that determine a company’s success or lack thereof.”

Macchiavelli is B2B but, ultimately, you target end consumers: how important is it to consider their needs?

“It’s essential because the end consumer determines the success of a product. Ultimately, the consumer uses the capsule and if it doesn’t work, they often think the product is poor quality and that can hurt the whole supply chain. That is why we do filling tests ourselves, with the goal of predicting any issue for our clients. The whole supply chain is involved in the success of a product, from capsule to coffee to packaging to the coffee machine and, finally, to marketing.”

Can a good capsule make the coffee better, regardless of the amount of coffee in it?

“Yes, within the limitations of the system in which the capsule will be used. The capsule, on its own, isn’t capable of everything, and as I said, a good product is always the result of an excellent supply chain.

All of our capsules are actual dispensing systems aimed at enhancing their content, bringing the quality and passion of our customers to the cup.”

Defining a standard that is better than the others isn’t easy: why has Nespresso prevailed?

“Their system is the expression of an excellent supply chain. We all have seen how Nespresso machines and capsules work; the result is identical all over the world in terms of quality, functionality, and service. This is their strength, combined with their ability of delighting the customer, making them feel like VIPs, and the success of their ad campaigns. Nespresso is good at presenting the product and meeting the consumers’ tastes, which is reflected in their sales numbers. Today, with compatible capsules, and specifically with our capsules, the consumer is free to enjoy their coffee brand, in the Robusta or Arabica variety they prefer. In a way, we have all become baristas, but in the comfort of our own home, when in the past we were limited to putting a moka pot on the stove.”

Nespresso has bought the Starbucks capsule brand…

“Given the amount of business generated by Starbucks, they had to partner with a high-level player. Nespresso and Starbucks, as market leaders, even if in different segments, will be able to improve their businesses with their collaboration. The first result for Nespresso, in fact, was to enter the large retailer segment with the Starbucks branded capsules.”

Nespresso is moving on in Italy and Europe as well, what do you think of Vertuo?

“It’s an established system in the United States since 2015, and we’ve been studying it for some time. We are in an early stage at the moment, but I think that somehow the market will come up with a compatible system. It’s possible that in the next few years the Vertuo system will carve out an interesting market niche. The drink that this system produces, however, isn’t the classic espresso, it’s closer to an iced coffee.”

Even Nespresso, with Vertuo, has raised the bar to 7.5 grams

“Yes. It remains a different coffee compared to the coffee that is typically enjoyed by our market. The crema isn’t that of our espresso, it’s very airy. Inside the system, the machine centrifuges the coffee and reads the barcode to figure out how much drink to extract, it is a high technology product.”