By Lisa on May 11, 2015 with Comments 2
One of the last visits that we did this winter with our Winter Activities group was to Cafes Bay in Lloret de la Vistalegre in Mallorca.
Cafes Bay is one of only three remaining coffee toasting factories left in Mallorca. It was an extremely interesting visit and the place smelt so good!
There were only six of us that turned up to this visit, this beautiful March morning, which was a poor turn-out for our group, especially for a visit involving food and drink!
Nevertheless, we were met by our charming and hospitable host, Toni, owner of the operation, who had been kind enough to give up his morning to show us around his place.
When Toni started speaking, we knew that we were in for an interesting visit: he oozed enthusiasm and his knowledge was extensive. He was instantly likeable and soon had us asking all sorts of questions about coffee. And always with that amazing toasted coffee smell in the background…
The fascinating history of Cafes Bay and our host, Toni
Toni had grown up around coffee and the business of toasting it and had finally inherited the business from his father.
He studied chemistry at university and even worked for a year as a chemist.
He couldn’t stay away from Cafes Bay for long though, coming back to the place he’d grown up to take over and start running it so his father, Miguel, could retire – not that his father has retired though; he’s one of those typical Mallorcan men that has worked all his life and now when he should be kicking back and enjoying the beautiful landscape he can’t stay away from the business he spent his life nurturing. In fact, he was there supervising the toasters and toasting machines during our visit.
When the business started in 1952 it was based in Palma and was called Cafes Bahia. Toni’s dad was one of the workers. He worked his way up and became partner in 1973 after an accident killed one of the owners. In 1988 Miguel and his brother were finally in a position to buy the other partners out and they became sole owners.
Of course, during the 1950s, 60s and 70s in Mallorca, no one cared much about what was official and what wasn’t, so when Miguel went to have the name of the business registered in the 1980s, it turned out there was already a Cafes Bahia on mainland Spain. As any country Mallorquin man would, Toni’s dad stood in that office and gave a huge shrug of his shoulders. “Well how do you say Bahia in English?” He asked. And Cafes Bay was born.
Toni’s dad moved the business and his family to the current location in Lloret, a beautiful rural property with plenty of space for the factory and beautiful views of the Mallorcan countryside. He took over the business completely when his brother died.
Nowadays there are 15 workers in the factory, a far cry from when Toni was a teenager helping his dad out and being a jack of all trades in the factory.
Toni officially took over the business in 2008 and is trying to implement subtle changes to improve the factory, like adding a coffee showroom for visitors to Cafes Bay, where they can do proper presentations with coffee tastings. That’s planned for this summer, all being well.
When Toni was speaking to us we could tell that he had his ideas very clear. He has modernised his accounts and stock by introducing… wait for it… a computer into the factory’s office. In his father’s day, everything was handwritten.
Cafes Bay nowadays
At Cafes Bay they use coffee beans from Colombia, Honduras, Brazil, Vietnam and India.
It takes between 11 and 15 minutes to toast a batch of coffee.
On our tour we went for a look at the old machinery that they have kept. This used to toast batches of 20 kgs of coffee. The machine they currently use can toast three times as much in one batch. The most important part of the toasting process is cooling it down, which needs to be done as quickly as possible.
Before the days of huge corporations like Nespresso, there were 17 coffee toasting factories in Mallorca. Now there are three. Many consumers have been lost to the Nespresso capsules, but on the other hand, less competition from other traditional coffee toasters means that Cafes Bay gets a bigger slice of the market.
Local businesses like local products
They also have a great selling point for consumers on the island, especially gourmet shops and cafes: they are just down the road in Lloret; their coffee is toasted every week; they are local. Local business owners like local products. They like to speak clearly with a young, Mallorquin-speaking business owner from just down the road. That’s a million times better than dealing with some rep from a multinational company who comes armed with glossy magazines.
So that’s the way that Cafes Bay markets their product: local factory and high quality.
In fact they’ve even taken it a step further and made an exclusive blend for exclusive cafes and bars to serve. They already supply many of the island’s bars and cafes with coffee to serve to clients, and often the coffee machine too, but they have launched a new exclusive project in which they can only have a maximum number of 54 clients.
They have taken the different areas of Mallorca, which are 47 or 49 and have divided the city of Palma up into about six areas. In each area they will supply only one establishment with their special blend and specially labelled coffee to serve to their customers.
Why only one establishment in each area?
This distinctive special blend coffee is something that makes a cafe or bar different, and their coffee memorable. The guarantee that Cafes Bay gives their VIP clients that participate in this project is that the cafe next door to them will never be able to serve the same quality or blend as them. People will have to go as far as the next town to get a cup of coffee as good.
Toni is passionate about his good quality product and insists on high standards. If you want to drink coffee from Cafes Bay in your own home, you have to either go there to the factory and buy it or you might find it in a gourmet shop. Toni told us that he has rejected offers from supermarkets because they always want the cheapest price and that it’s just not worth it. He prefers to earn nothing than work his arse off for a pittance.
At Cafes Bay they are having to adapt to the market though, and they have brought out their own line of capsules compatible with that bane of Toni’s life, the Nespresso machine. As well as that, they have 17 different products.
Toni told us that his Nespresso-sized capsules can never rival those of the genuine Nespresso ones. That’s because Nespresso has trademarked the recipe: it is said in coffee circles that you need 7g of coffee to make a good cup of coffee, but Nespresso has managed it with 5g in the capsule. Other brand capsules are never as creamy or as tasty as the original Nespresso ones. That’s because they put 4g of real coffee and 1g of instant coffee in their capsules. No one else can do that.
After this fantastic visit we left with a bag of coffee to brew at home and a few boxes of their capsules. It has to be said, I’ve had the capsules already and they are every bis as good as Nespresso.
- In Spain there is not one decaffeinating factory. The beans for decaf have to pass through Holland or Germany before they arrive on the island.
- Coffee is the most widely consumed drink in the world. People of all religions and cultures drink it, and it is accessible to the rich, the poor and everybody in between.
- The coffee industry is the second biggest money-making industry in the world after petroleum. Next comes pharmaceuticals.
- In the country of origin, the beans are picked by hand normally. Before they are exported they are boiled so that they can’t grow if they are planted. However, the countries that produce coffee needn’t worry too much because Toni told us that he had brought back seeds before and planted many but they just wouldn’t grow here in Mallorca. They weren’t necessarily for using commercially, but as Toni said, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to show visitors a real coffee plant when they come to the factory?
How about you? Are you a coffee drinker? Which is your favourite brand or flavour? Please feel free to add your own coffee facts in the comments below.
Our Winter Activities jaunts are over now for winter 2014-15 because it’s time to go back to work, but we still have plenty of visits in Mallorca pending for next winter. Learn more about what we do on our winter activities here.
I would like to remind you that all the photos used on InMyShoesTravel.com are my own unless otherwise stated.
You can see my whole collection of Travel Photos here.
About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....