The FINANCIAL -- Georgian coffee company Cherie continues to offer 100 percent natural coffee to Georgian customers with the aim of finding and strengthening its place within the local coffee market.
From July this year Cherie will introduce three new kinds of instant coffee, while the company plans to update the range of its existing products later in September.
“Our product will be distinguished from our competitors, highly sought-after and competitive. Our goal of acquiring a high level of public trust and constantly satisfying our customers encourages us to keep working and offering all the novelties to them,” Irakli Lomtatidze, Director and Founder of Cherie, told The FINANCIAL.
“It is not our goal to attract customers temporarily. For the purpose of accomplishing our mission 100 percent, it is necessary to sustain our customer base and meet their expectations. Connecting with our customers is of the utmost importance. Currently we are working on developing the instant coffee line and this year we aim to increase sales in this direction,” he added.
Cherie LLC, established in 2012, is the largest supplier of freshly roasted coffee in Georgia. It is the first Georgian company to introduce industrial coffee production. The first production was issued in June 2014 but the majority of consumers tasted Cherie coffee only in 2015.
“In this regard the year 2015 was challenging for Cherie. Georgian coffee brand Cherie was built exactly in 2015,” Lomtatidze said.
Besides the Georgian market, Cherie coffee is available in the countries of the Middle Asia and in Russia.
The sales statistics have proved Cherie met all the challenges in 2015. Between January-December sales of Cherie coffee increased by 200 percent, show the statistics.
Lomtatidze said the “positive dynamic” was maintained this year as well and the first quarter of 2016 showed an increase in sales.
Cherie products are sold in a network of different markets in Georgia. Prices are targeted at the average segment and are GEL 1.1 and 8.50 for 100 gram coffee at this stage.
“We offer products in all price categories - economy class, which is very cheap, and premium class, which is very expensive. Both of them have their customers, however cheap products are always the bestsellers,” Lomtatidze said.
When offering coffee for different segments, keeping the same standard is challenging. Lomtatidze said that in terms of freshly ground coffee Cherie does not have a competitor so far.
“As for the instant coffee, we are starting its further development this year and hope to increase our market share in this segment as well,” he said.
In total the coffee producer company offers five sorts of coffee: Cherie Classic; Cherie Original; Cherie Natiffee; Cherie Gold; and Cherie Instant.
Lomtatidze claims all these products already have their loyal customers and pretty good sales thanks to their special aroma, flavour and quality which are to be found in coffee mugs all around Georgia.
“We do not change the aroma and quality remains the number one priority for us. Freshness also gives Cherie products the competitive advantage against imported coffees. It is impossible for imported coffee to keep it fresh as the process takes a long time - from three to six months. Georgian consumers understand this factor and remain loyal towards the fresh taste of Cherie coffee,” Lomtatidze said.
“We produce a special product and its aroma, flavour and quality are the first priority of our company. The production of coffee is an art, it is a trilogy: one third of its taste is created by the origin/species of the green coffee beans, the remaining two thirds depend on the coffee roasting and brewing,” said Lomtatidze, noting that the best coffees are usually produced in countries where the coffee is not cultivated.
“For the purpose of producing the best quality coffee, it is not necessary to cultivate coffee in Georgia,” he added.
However, Cherie has its own factory, located in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, within the Didi Lilo settlement on a 7,000 square meter (m2) plot of land. The factory is modern and is equipped with German-manufactured machinery for roasting, grinding and packaging.
Moreover, the internal quality control and procedures are strictly carried out to European standards, so the quality of Cherie products is similar to the quality of products in, for example, Italy or Germany, believes Lomtatidze.
“The factory meets all the standards of the food industry; all sanitary norms are met. Each employee should pass all the required sanitary and hygiene requirements and are equipped with sanitary coverings.
Q. What kind of raw coffee do you use to produce Cherie coffee?
A. The process of producing Cherie coffee begins with the import of fresh, green coffee beans, which have a shelf-life of up to two years.
These beans are: three Robusta coffee bean varieties, and eight Arabica coffee bean varieties. These raw coffee beans are grown in Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Vietnam… Shipped from these origins the coffees are warehoused in Hamburg Germany from there via mixed containers coffee is transported into our plant in Tbilisi.
These beans are then carefully checked for quality before being put through the cleaning process. The beans are then cleaned, roasted, ground, packaged and distributed throughout Georgia.
Q. You spoke about the importance of coffee’s aroma. What is the recipe for Cherie’s distinctive aroma which attracts so many customers?
A. Let’s start with our premium brand Cherie Gold, which is a mix of three coffee tastes of Arabica. Its comparatively dark roasting consists of rare exotic coffee species that originate from Africa, Central and South America. With its outstanding flavour, Cherie-Gold is our most expensive product, designed to be enjoyed by and presented to your most distinguished and dearest people.
Cherie Classic is our flagship product. It is comprised of Arabica coffees blended from specially chosen species. Each coffee has its own unique roasting regime and processing technology; African coffee beans give it a strong intense flavour, viscosity and acidity whereas the Central and South American coffees add taste and an intense flavour of fruit, berries and citrus along with a floral aroma which you will experience every single time you open the pack.
Cherie Original presents a blend of the highest quality Asian Robusta and South American Arabica coffee beans.
Cherie Natiffee was made with the intention of being affordable to everyone. It is identified by its dark roast and blend of Asian Robusta and South American Arabica coffee species.
Q. How profitable is the coffee business in Georgia and how preferable an environment is created to do business?
A. Despite the fact that the business environment is very friendly in Georgia, the coffee business is still not profitable here. High quality coffee is expensive while the profit margins are low.
The Georgian market is saturated with coffee, but not with quality coffee unfortunately.