Aprender a crear resiliencia comunitaria a través de la comunicación y la tecnología
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Giuseppe Burzotta came back to Lercara Friddi after a solid training obtained at the Liceo classico Garibaldi in Palermo and a three-year period at the Faculty of Law of Trento, the first university in Italy in terms of quality of the training offer, being also the only one university to have an authentic European orientation, thanks to its international panel of teachers. Passionate economist and marketing scholar, for five years he has been using his transversal skills in running the historic Columbia roasting company, founded in 1963. Burzotta took over the company from the previous owner, although he had never worked in the sector. Moreover, he has associated to the pre-existent business a new company branch named Coffer, a training platform for coffee connoisseurs and sommeliers with the purpose to satisfy the needs of the medium-high segment of customers within the coffee sector.
Environmental and social sustainability is at the center of Columbia and Coffer's considerations. The only emissions are produced by the roasting process and are constantly monitored by the Regional Agency for the Protection of the Environment, using specific methods of analysis. By dealing exclusively with sustainable agriculture products, coming from crops located in Brazil, India, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, the brands Columbia and Coffe brands actively promote specialty coffees, especially of the Arabica species, distinguished by a very lively aromatic note and a sweet taste. Therefore, the company draws on processed products that go against the trend of the commercial brands, which are focused on the standardization of the processes. The environmental issue is fundamental and the coffee’s supply chains leaves an extremely visible imprint due to the portioned: the coffee which is packaged and then served in single doses, often in plastic capsules or other non-perishable materials. In the medium and long term, Giuseppe Burzotta hopes to overcome these critical issues by implementing domestic portioning projects and / or by working on the transition from current domestic electric machines, which have a very short life cycle, to durable and eco-sustainable coffee makers such as Kamira. Economic sustainability is provided by the online training platform for coffee sommeliers which now integrates the traditional business model of the local
roasting: this aspect of innovation has produced a significative increase of the number of customers.
TRADITION AND INNOVATION
Coffer is based on the cultural heritage, on the knowledge and on the know-how started half a century ago by Columbia, being the former the direct evolution of the latter. In this sense, the main element of technological innovation is the online store. The second - which is both a technological and a processing innovation - lies in diversifying the relationship with customers, distinguishing those of proximity (the customers the roasting), from those who are sometimes far away and reachable through social media platforms and dedicated apps. The third step was the creation of a training platform through which both Ho.Re.Ca., as well as coffee lovers, can take advantage of consultancy being also able to follow a self-training path up to the achievement of the qualification of coffee sommelier. Finally, the owner realized a diversification of both brands and target segments. Coffer, in addition to being the name of the platform, is also the high-end brand and product, which aims at new and non-local markets, while Caffé Columbia is still the brand used for the local market. Process innovation is evident in the great focus on specialty coffees, as an important and contemporary trend but also a guarantee of high quality in the coffee market itself.
The founding values of the company are expressed in:
1. The roasting process, during which the quality continues to be controlled manually by the roaster, rather than by machines whose sole purpose is to treat coffee as a mass consumer good, with consequent decay of the quality of the blends;
2. The use of ancient blends, a choice that Columbia / Coffer has in common with Torrefazione Stagnitta (Palermo).
SCALABILITY AND RESILIENCE
Although Giuseppe Burzotta does not exclude the possibility to open other stores in several commercially attractive locations, he is keen to emphasize that "the future is online and the economy is changing". Therefore, corporate investments are as for now focused on digital.
The Columbia / Coffer recipe in order to face possible crises means at first to keep a careful eye on global economic trends and, secondly, to produce a proper market and feasibility analysis before the execution of any business project.