By Prativa Bhusal IBL15
There is one thing that you might call the national drink of Finland, it’s coffee.
If you are a newcomer in this country, the level of coffee consumption you witness here might literally surprise you. Coffee is everywhere in Finland. It’s kind of a norm, an inseparable part of the Finnish culture, sister of Sisu, if you may. Unsurprisingly, with an estimated 9.6 kg annual consumption per capita, Finland sits at the top of the list of countries with high coffee consumption.
Let’s not talk about the statistics much, but of a story – a story of coffee and concepts, a story a German immigrant who took risks, struggled for years and ultimately revolutionised the coffee culture in Finland. It’s the story behind the all-pervasive Juhla Mokka packets and the signature golden cups, and the leading coffee producer in Finland and the Baltic region – Paulig.
Visit to Paulig’s HQ
On 2 May, I, and other friends and a teacher from my school, totalling altogether 18, had the opportunity of visiting Paulig Ltd’s headquarters and the factory in Vuosaari. The tour was arranged by our teacher Kaija Haapasalo as part of the course operations management for manufacturing and services. It’s during that visit that I got to know about the inspiring story of Paulig and it’s founder Gustav Paulig.
We reached Paulig’s headquarters at 9.00, and we were offered freshly brewed roasted coffee, which was complimented with a presentation from Paulig’s popular icon Paula and another lady responsible for customer services. As the ladies told us, Paulig Ltd. was founded by 1876 by Gustav Paulig, a German immigrant who had moved to Finland in 1871 for a trading business. He brought, among others, salt, coffee, spices and alcoholic products to Finland. A few years later, Paulig started selling, or let’s say rather got specialised in, roasted coffee, which was deemed a going-to-fail idea by many. “Roasting coffee is not business, but it certainly is a rewarding hobby,” that’s how a famous Gustav’s quote goes.
Many decades fast-forward, Paulig is still owned by Gustav Paulig’s family descendants, and its roasted coffee packets have spread from Finland to many other countries. In Finland and the Baltic countries, the company is the market leader and in Russia it is the second largest.
After the presentation, we visited the Paulig museum on the same premises.
The museum not only had items depicting Gustav’s and his family’s journey, but hosted an attractive vintage collection of coffee packets dating as back as 1920. It was also amusing, or rather striking, to know that coffee used to be a luxury product in the past, and came in big 5-10 kg tin boxes.
Our next juncture was the observation of the main factory, where we observed the assembly line as well as roasting and grinding machines. We also got to know the role of logistics and how Paulig kept its lead time at low, at times completing the roasting-to-retailer cycle just within a day.
As of 2016, Paulig buys roughly 0.7% of the world’s yearly output of coffee, in all more than 60 million kilos of green coffee, from 10-15 different countries. At its fastest, coffee gets to Vuosaari harbour from, for instance, Brazil in roughly three weeks, stretching out to a maximum of two months.
The visit to Paulig gave me many insights into how a modern company functions – insights into issues ranging from maintaining supply chain to addressing consumer satisfaction. Another important strategy that I liked is the concept of Paulig’s Paula, an appointment that seems just perfect for a unique style of advertising and improving brand image. However, the most inspiring of all was the story of Gustav Paulig, a brave entrepreneur and an immigrant, who took risks, fought with hurdles and started a whole new coffee culture in the Nordic and beyond.