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Davide Macchiavelli: ‘We have lowered the cost differential of compostable capsules by 50%’

Davide Macchiavelli, chief executive of Macchiavelli

BOLOGNA, Italy – Macchiavelli Srl is a Bologna based company with 50 years of experience in the designing and marketing of plastic products. It was the first company to develop compatible capsules for all of the main systems in use and has now 30 patents, boasting both a unique knowledge of plastic materials and a specialization in the coffee industry. Among the company cutting-edge research is the development of compatible compostable capsules, in response to the ever-increasing demand of sustainable solutions by roasters and end customers.

To understand Macchiavelli’s approach to the market, we talked with Davide Macchiavelli, chief executive of the company.

Foreign markets currently account for 12% of your production: what are your goals in Italy and internationally, keeping in mind that in some countries the sustainability issue is even more important?

Our goal, which we will implement in the next 3-4 years, is to reach a broad balance between the domestic and export markets. To this end, we have not only strengthened our sales department, we have also extended our product portfolio to cover a wider range of needs and demands, increasingly focused on environmentally friendly products.

For the most widespread formats (Nespresso, Dolce Gusto and Lavazza) we can offer a full range of options: from traditional material capsules, with and without barrier, to the Circular Economy versions, in compostable material or bioplastics (renewable source).
Macchiavelli guarantees the highest freedom of choice to the customer, who can decide to buy the capsules that are most aligned with its production and business model.

How much more expensive is an eco-friendly capsule?

A compostable capsule is more expensive than a traditional one. Macchiavelli has believed from the beginning in what was then a niche and is now a category of products. We have invested a lot of resources in the development of materials and technologies, and we managed to lower the cost differential by about 40-50%. We are working to lower it further.

Let’s look at this issue from the end consumer perspective.

Capsule systems were developed to extract a quality espresso in a simple, safe, and repeatable way. Today we can say that the cup result of a capsule is on average very good, and this is mainly why the market has been steadily growing. I like going to a café to drink a good cappuccino, but when bars were forced to close because of the pandemic, I still managed to have a quality drink thanks to capsules. Thanks to a good milk frother (or, alternatively, a capsule with freeze-dried milk), I can always enjoy a good drink in the comfort of my own home.

Single serve products are also a good way to reduce food waste, since you can use just what you intend to consume. It’s also possible to ensure the proper preservation of the product and guarantee food safety.

Is the moka pot a big competitor?

There is no competition between moka and capsules: they are two completely different extraction methods that shouldn’t be compared. At the beginning of the capsule systems, there was the idea of developing one for the moka pot, but it never made much sense. The consumer who loves the moka also enjoys the ritual of preparing coffee – its smell and its sounds.

The espresso lover, instead, wants a more full-bodied and intense drink, with its persistent hazelnut colored crema, all of which should be provided in a short time. For this reason, coffee drinking at home has significantly increased. For instance, I went from drinking 10 coffees a year to 4 a day.

Do you think of your company as supporting the supply chain of portioned coffee or as a cutting-edge company that leads the way for the industry?

We are a cutting-edge company, it’s in our DNA: we want to offer our customers the widest possible choice. The aim is to offer the right solutions based on the needs of the various roasters, meeting their vision and goals. As much as possible, we try to accommodate every customer type, from small roasters to multinational groups. Obviously, the needs are different based on the company structures, but we want to make products that can meet all needs. This involves a solid research and development effort in order to continually improve. Our motto is: never settle.

A concrete example of our vision are the “Basic” capsules compatible with the Lavazza Espresso Point system, of which we managed to produce 500 million units per year. We could have thought: the product is good, given the sale success.

But we didn’t settle and we developed the “Basic Plus”: a new capsule format with further improved performance. Another example is the improvement of our “JUST” capsule, compatible with Nestlé Dolce Gusto, that now boasts a crema that lasts a whole hour. Thanks to this characteristic, together with the remarkable functional reliability, this capsule has become a benchmark product.

Our philosophy is this: providing our clients with solutions that bring excellence in the cup.

Is a capsule that meets the roaster’s requirements appreciated by the end consumer as well?

For some aspects that’s true: I’m referring to characteristics such as dispensing, result in the cup, barrier effectiveness, visual impact, and ease of use. Other characteristics that involve the reliability in the filling and sealing process are only perceived by the roaster or the soluble products manufacturer.

To have a better result in the cup you need to buy Macchiavelli capsules.

We like seeing that the roasters we work with are growing. This means that our capsules, combined with the work of our customers in creating fantastic blends, meet the consumer taste. In this case, success is assured.

Our products do not alter our customers’ coffee, they enhance it. This makes us extremely proud: When our technology meets the passion of our customers, success is guaranteed!