We met up with Paul Scimone (PICTURE) to get to know more about this professional who, despite his young age, boasts an impressive resume with his recently obtained Q-Grader certification and a world-class international experience in the world of coffee.
This interview helps us to gain a better understanding of his extremely important role within Gruppo Gimoka, the Valtellina roasting company that, based on green bean roasted volume, ranks as one of the leading Italian roasters.
Scimone, what role do you play at Gruppo Gimoka? What are your main duties and responsibilities?
I joined Gruppo Gimoka back in July 2015, as the R&D Director. My main responsibility is to cover all the activities linked to Research and Development. A department, which has continued to expand since 2014, focused on the development of new blends as well as the optimization of those that have already been developed and launched on the market (http://www.gruppogimoka.it/en/blend-quality-and-development/). This organizational strengthening timely overlaps with the strong internationalization process Gruppo Gimoka has undertaken in the last few years.
Besides this, from a strictly technical standpoint, it is my responsibility to supervise the purchasing of green beans. Obviously, my work is closely linked and highly interconnected with that of Quality Assurance. A total of 7 people make up the R&D and Quality team (http://www.gruppogimoka.it/en/blend-quality-and-development/). And the company is continuing to invest in a mix of young professionals and people with extensive experience, all united behind a true passion for coffee. I can say that R&D and Quality is now a group with a wide range of different yet highly complementary skills, sharing a common passion for coffee.
How does your experience and background sit within the Gruppo Gimoka context?
My background as a micro-roaster, the three years I spent as a quality controller for a roasting company in Luino as well as my knowledge acquired early on in my career, at the INEI – International Institute of Coffee Tasters, has helped me to effectively integrate into this company; characterised for its roasted coffee volumes, pro -activeness, production characteristics and different types of customers.
As I previously mentioned, our main task inside the company is to ensure products meet the parameters and quality standards required by the market or specifically defined or requested by a specific customer; it’s for this reason we are constantly involved in coffee tasting sessions to fine-tune new products or “new product defining projects for customers”. But we are also committed to continuously improving the commercial range of products, often in conjunction with the acquisition of new machinery or equipment that could require the products’ data sheets to be fine-tuned.
Our mission, as R&D is to ensure continuous product and process improvements, acting on both upstream (sources of green beans) and downstream, in creating the blends, and in the transformation technology (roasting “cooking” coffee) and packaging phases (processing of portioned coffee requires specific processes and approach and, in part, is different from that of ground and whole bean coffee).
Gimoka’s world is in fact a “multidimensional” one: at a given moment we could work alongside, for example, a small to medium size roaster, for which we develop tailor-made blends and, other times, we might deal with a major supermarket chain that wants to develop its own line. In other words switching from a relatively small-scale production to a private-label project with mass-market volumes. Both require the ability to ensure consistency and many other quality parameters, although the implications are quite different.
When you joined Gruppo Gimoka, what state did you find the company in?
My predecessor did a great job in establishing the processes and setting out the flow paths. Since then the company has continued to invest both from a research and quality control laboratory standpoint and from a logistics and production one too. In fact, it is solely thanks to this we have been able to guarantee quality and efficiency: we have grown, in terms of people, equipment and also production facilities. Currently, we are in the process of creating an internal interchangeable and cross-functional team. Even though everyone has their own specialisation, they must be able to understand the different issues and have a clear view of the whole process. For example, coffee tasting and evaluating, the ability to intervene in the production processes to guarantee quality and realize if you have got a soundly worked product in front of you or not.
What added value do you feel you’ve contributed to the Valtellina’s roasting company?
I have the trust and support of the Management who continuously motivate me towards a higher level of quality and research standards. The role in which the Laboratory Department plays is constantly getting more important and the team is increasingly consolidating its skills, problem solving abilities and handling of procedures.
As time goes by, my perception of having further successfully structured and enriched a system, and an effective working methodology, continues to be reaffirmed from various types of customers with whom I have the pleasure to deal with. The continuous growth in results registered by Gimoka, and the broadening of the customer base, is the most tangible evidence the direction being taken is the right one.
What motivates you the most in your Gruppo Gimoka experience?
Production volume aside, one of the biggest motivations is to demonstrate, with humility, competence and the right technology, it is possible at a corporate level to evolve and position ourselves correctly amongst the various channels and market segments.
In this regard, it should be acknowledged, the Padelli family is investing a lot and strongly believes in the new resources and skills that have been brought on board to be part of the organization.
On a more personal level, I can say that I am extremely stimulated by the level of professional autonomy I have been entrusted, by both the Management and the owners, to develop specific business projects.
Paolo Scimone, you are a Q-Grader. Can you explain what it means to have this certification, which you’ve managed to obtain?
The Q-Grader is a very selective internationally recognized certification, helping industry professionals to standardize their work, speak the same language and ensure quality cross-industry coffee standards. Given the extreme selectiveness of the course, I can’t hide my great satisfaction in passing all those exams.
We read that you are also involved in the Italian Roasting School?
I must thank you for this question since the Italian Roasting School is a project close to my heart. It was an idea conceived by a group of friends: Carlo Odello, Antonio Biscotti and Aldo Verrengia: in few words, it’s a coffee roasting school that is rapidly growing; we have enrolment requests coming from students of various nationalities. As the school’s Technical Director, I am very proud of this project and its results.
Great! Getting back to your role within Gruppo Gimoka: Who are your key internal partners that you collaborate the most with?
I collaborate a bit with everyone involved in the operational side of the business: the upstream office, for example, that oversees the purchasing of green beans. It is managed directly by the owner of the company. We plan together overseas missions to find and evaluate new supply sources. The last trips being to Africa, Colombia and Indonesia.
From an organizational and managerial point of view, I report to Massimo Faravelli, CEO of Gruppo Gimoka who oversees all aspects of product development. There is an excellent level of cooperation with the sales department; in this company – as part of its vocation – we are used to listening to and supporting customers, their needs and their projects. I often work with the marketing department, either on launching products or organizing coffee tasting sessions for customers and/or the press. Finally there’s the daily interaction with the production department, and the product development and quality team.
So far, what projects have stimulated you the most?
By far the development of the new range of self-preserving Nespresso-compatible (*) capsules, with 6 different rich and full-bodied flavoured blends (http://www.gimoka.it/en/at-home-compatible-capsules-nespresso/): that for me was the confirmation that you can achieve excellent results applying stubbornness with a level of passion driven research. I’d also like to mention the development of new products for a number of French and English supermarket chains; and in the HoReCa sector. Some major deals that Gruppo Gimoka managed to secure in the Germany Area. Each one requiring high-quality blends and products, an extremely consistent production process, strict product traceability systems, system certifications, and flexibility and responsiveness.
Personally, what is a good coffee? And a great blend?
A good coffee is a flawless one; it’s a matter of objectiveness. A professional knows, in fact, how to distinguish personal taste from that of objective quality. A good blend is a balance of flavours able to give it that required completeness and richness.
Working not only with coffee beans but also ground coffee and capsules, what does it mean in professional terms?
Coffee is a moment of personal pleasure. In every sense. In all its forms. Just loving it is enough … If you’ve got the passion, there is a natural instinct to work well with it, thus letting you savour it in all the different occasions!
More info: surf www.gruppogimoka.it
(*) The trademark is not property of Gruppo Gimoka or any affiliated company