How to put traceability at the heart of your coffee roastery

Antony Papandreou
February 21, 2023

The senses play an essential role in a coffee-drinking experience.

The hiss of a steam wand, the aroma of freshly ground coffee, and the warmth of the espresso machine can create powerful memory triggers. 

Each can transport you back to your first experience with specialty coffee. For many, that experience happened close to, if not after, adulthood. 

However, for Claudia Sans Witty, head of quality control at Cafès El Magnifico in Barcelona, the cling and clatter of cups on saucers and brittle beans against the burrs of a grinder were sounds of her childhood.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Sign up

The family business embracing traceability

Claudia was born into a coffee legacy that goes back to 1919, when her great-grandfather opened a colonial store. 

Then, in 1962, Claudia’s grandparents created Cafès El Magnífico on the foundations of her great-grandfather’s legacy.

It fell to Claudia’s father, Salvador Sans Velasco, to carry the brand into modern times and the vastly different market it is today. 

This was a task he undertook with enthusiasm. Driven by curiosity and the pursuit of high-quality coffee, Salvador leapt upon the opportunity to meet Philippe Jobin in Le Havre.

Author of the reference book titled ‘The Coffee’s Produced Throughout The World’, Jobin was also a famous importer of fine coffees. 

This meeting led to Salvador purchasing high-quality green beans from various origins, which could be traced back to the farm with confidence. This decision was a defining moment for the brand, as traceability in the industry was gaining traction.

During this time, Claudia was studying, dividing her time between University and working at the cafe. When she graduated with a degree in literature, her relationship with coffee had evolved.

“I wanted to know more about the process, the people, and how coffee was grown,” explains Claudia, who is the fourth generation working in Cafès El Magnífico. 

“I began to appreciate the sensory aspect of coffee, cupping exquisite flavours from all over the world. And also the human experience of working in a team: the collaborating, learning and teaching.”

Cafès El Magnifico has stood firm in its heritage as time rolled on. However, the market and customer demand have been anything but static. Therefore, staying relevant has necessitated changing, along with consumer expectations.

“My father showed me the menu from Cafès El Magnifico from back in 1992,” Claudia reminisces. “We were serving coffee from Hawai Kona, Ethiopia Moka Limu, and Guatemala, Antigua. This was at the moment where traceability became a thing”.

As people began to care more about where the coffee was from, farmers had more reason to care about the quality of the green beans. 

In turn, roasters paid more attention to the traceability of what they purchased. “The domino effect, that’s how things change,” Claudia says. “Today, we have access to coffee that my grandparents never had.”

An image of a coffee cupping session at Cafès El Magnífico in Barcelona in an article on traceable coffees

Ensuring the business evolves with the times

Cafès El Magnifico has gone through change many times. For instance, it was in 1989 that Claudia’s father, Salvador, decided to shift to specialise in speciality coffee

Notably, a lot has changed as specialty coffee stepped out of the niche and became mainstream.

For example, the consumer base is more knowledgeable about different origins and processes. This level of awareness has changed the industry’s approach to roasting as well as the coffee served. 

Therefore, Claudia is thankful for the generational experience available to her. “I’m lucky because I always have both sides in my mind: present and past. I think this allows me to see into the future a bit and prepare,” she laughs. 

An example of how Cafès El Magnifico has adapted to changing consumer demand is through its coffee packaging. 

As sustainability has become a priority across the sector, businesses that hope to resonate with younger audiences need to be seen reducing their carbon footprint

One way Cafès El Magnifico does its part is by using fully recyclable printed coffee bags made using low-density polyethylene (LDPE)

LDPE can be recycled multiple times, reducing the need to extract additional virgin materials from the earth.

Owing to its affordability and high-barrier properties, LDPE has become a particularly popular choice for coffee bags. 

It is highly effective at keeping out external factors that can damage the beans, such as oxygen and moisture, while also offering a recyclable option for customers.

For many businesses, it can be a challenge to adapt to changing expectations without alienating their long-time customer base. 

Cafès El Magnifico has to cater to people walking through the door for the first time, as well as to those who have been loyal customers since Claudia was a child.

Claudia admits much of the success of running a coffee roastery depends on consistency and developing a repeatable process that results in great coffee and happy customers.

As a cup taster, what I try to do is find coffee and roast profiles that appeal to both sides: old customers and new,” she explains. “I find the best way to do this is to stay under the umbrella of quality.

An image of Claudia Sans Witty, head of quality control at Cafès El Magnífico in an article on traceable coffees.

Education passed down from generations

As Cafès El Magnifico’s legacy is passed through the generations, it is fitting that Claudia works closely with her father when choosing the next range of seasonal coffee.

“We choose the coffee together,” she says adamantly. “Sometimes, there’s a coffee I like more than he does, but most of the time, we’re calibrated.”

Claudia adds that she is exceptionally grateful for the fact that her father has, over the years, put more trust into her purchasing decisions. 

“It’s not easy for a brand to span multiple generations, hold true to its ideals, and embrace the future while paying tribute to the past,” she says. “But at El Magnifico, we must be doing something right.”

For Claudia, the most important thing is to give the customer proximity to the product they will purchase.

“Give them all the information about the farmer, the origin, the process, and even the roast profile,” she explains. “Educated them about the things happening during the roasting, and talk them through the sensory processes.” 

An effective way to communicate origin information is by investing in custom-printed coffee packaging.

The team at MTPak Coffee is able to fully customise a variety of coffee packaging materials to help educate consumers about your coffees.

Our range of coffee packaging options is made from completely renewable materials. 

Our variety of coffee boxes is made using 100% recycled cardboard, while our sustainable coffee bags are made using kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining

Additionally, we offer our clients a quick turnaround time of 40-hours and 24-hour shipping time, thanks to our innovative digital printing technology.  

We also offer low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to micro-roasters who are looking to remain agile while showcasing brand identity and a commitment to the environment.

For more information on sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team. 

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Sign up

MTPak recommends