14th Annual Flavor and Syrup Survey
By Suzanne J. Brown
Have you ever thought about the significant role that flavor and fragrance has played in the international coffee, tea and beverage industries? Suzanne Brown explores its beginnings into tea and coffee, in the first of a two-part series.
History and Significance
The first clue into how a flavor will taste is found in the fragrance. Whether subtle or pronounced, flavors inspire an emotional response that not only savors and lingers, but can also repel and disgust. Europeans first added chocolate to their coffee in the 1600’s. Citrus has also been combined with coffee for several hundred years, while sugar is believed to have started in the French court of King Louis XIV in 1715.
Flavors from every part of the world, from spices to citrus have been mixed and poured into an infinite number of delicious libations, culinary delights and fragrances to wear. Flavoring oils, powders and syrups denoting preferences enjoyed from every region of the world, have influenced not just the coffee and tea markets, but all beverages. The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo have added a variety of flavors to traditional classic colas. Now,not only do you have a choice of regular or diet, but you also have them in every flavor. Smaller companies are making a media splash with seasonal or limited time offerings, such as Jones Soda’s “Smoked Salmon Pate Soda” or “Swamp Juice” from Avery’s Beverages.
It’s The Berries
While spices, sugar and chocolate were among the top tea and coffee related commodities being traded at the time, European monks were busy stomping tubs of berries into wines, fruit juices and jams. Today, fruit purees seem immense with their infusions into so many culinary creations. Traditional fruit blends and their new hybrids are limitless, and have transformed the flavor industry into a growing empire.
Evolvement of Flavor Industry, As We Know It Today
Today’s flavor companies have a past, present and future. Flavoring oils and syrups existed long before leaves and beans entered the scene. Just like the spices, citrus oils and floral essences that have permeated history, today’s companies have traditions that formed their brands.
All Companies Have To Start Somewhere
Most companies don’t start out as internationally traded, recognized brands. Even The Coca-Cola Company was created by a pharmacist using a simple syrup recipe. Flavor, fragrance and syrup companies that the coffee and tea industry has grown to depend on have also been built on unexpected discoveries, luck and ingenuity, blended with intriguing tales.
Consider distilled water, which can also be traced to flavor and fragrance. In 1836, a pharmacist produced his own distilled water, and this venture later evolved into Frey & Lau, based in Henstedt-Ulzburg, Germany. Bernd Zimmer, of Frey & Lau, relates the story of the pharmacist, which after perfecting his water distillation process, began experimenting with essential oils, a business that was initially built by selling bergamot, lemon, orange and peppermint oil to Hamburg tea importers and packers. As the years passed, other flavors were introduced, such as vanilla and wild cherry, and as flavored coffees became increasingly popular in the 1990’s, the company introduced cream, nuts, chocolate and almond to the European market.
Another unforeseen beginning, was well over 100 years ago, with the Van Drunens, who were then a far cry from stirring and blending citrus oils. The family was busy farming fruits and vegetables on their farm outside of Chicago. However, what began as a simple farming operation is now one of the world’s largest manufacturers of fruit, vegetable and grain ingredients for the international food, flavor nutraceutical and cosmetic industries. The company’s newest product - a syrup flavor called CoffeeBerry - is based upon a patent-pending technology utilizing the dried, non-roasted whole fruit of the coffee plant, not just the bean. In step with the healthy benefits of coffee, this syrup is loaded with antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients and is being formatted for use in custom coffees, ready-to-drink beverages, including coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks and many dairy applications.
The roaring twenties ushered in an era of sophisticated nightclubs, smoky jazz cafés, swinging flappers and colorful bar concoctions served in elegant glassware. Suddenly, leisure time was socially acceptable for all classes. While the world seemed to be kicking up the Charleston, in San Francisco, husband and wife, Rinaldo and Ezilda Torre, were mixing syrups. Not for pancakes and waffles, but syrups made from heirloom recipes that Rinaldo had brought along to America from his home in Lucca, Italy. Their first five flavors - anisette, grenadine, lemon, orgeat (almond) and tamarindo - were shared with neighbors throughout the Italian community in North Beach, San Francisco. Mixed with soda water, the syrups were instantly a local favorite. The result was the beginning of R. Torre & Company, which evolved into today’s Torani flavored syrups, one of the largest syrup companies in the world. Over the next 60 years, the company grew into a nationally recognized brand. It wasn’t until the 1980’s, that Torani associate and coffee industry veteran, “Brandy” Brandenburger, added a shot of Torani to an espresso drink. He hoped the flavor would produce a new appeal to the traditional beverage. Brandenburger took his flavored latte to the streets of the Pacific Northwest, introducing this novel concept one café at a time, until flavored coffee devotees dominated the region. Soon, coffee lovers all over were requesting Torani-flavored espresso drinks.
However, even before the Torres’ were mixing up Italian sodas in San Francisco, Georges Monin was manufacturing flavored syrups in France. Donald Harrell, director of business development for Monin, shared his extensive knowledge on the history of syrup. Commenting on how French monks made syrups over 200 years ago, Harrell said, “Monks have a serious diet of fruit. In winter, fruit wasn’t available, so monks worked hard in the summer, harvesting fruit and reducing it almost into a pulp, they then added some sugar to give it a life of about four months, which would cover the winter.” Initially, when Monin began importing syrup to the U.S. from France, they were made with beet sugar. “Now,” said Harrell, “Monin uses cane sugar and it’s fresher because it comes from Clewiston, Florida, not far from the Monin headquarters in Clearwater.”
Folklore Foods, Inc., manufacturer of Folklore Gourmet Syrups traces its origins in food manufacturing back to the 1960’s. Seizing an opportunity in the fledgling coffee industry in 1991, the company started producing gourmet syrups in both branded and private labeled products. Its European distributor, Best Coffee Company of Hamburg, Germany has perfected the company’s Chai Tea formulation, rich in cardamom, honey, nutmeg and cinnamon. Daniel Hanson, c.e.o. of Folklore, said the company considers this formulation to now be unrivalled among Chai Tea syrups.
Another company with origins from the 1960’s is Flavormatic Industries, Inc., which is located in a 23-acre manufacturing facility in New York City. Custom formulations of all products including flavors, fragrances, essential oil blends, extracts and juice blends/drink bases are fit to the customer’s requirements. Flavormatic has sales offices and agents in the U.K., France, Puerto Rico, Japan and Canada. Most recently, they created a patented technology for flavoring coffee beans, which the company has branded “PowerBean.” This unique technology eliminates the use of propylene glycol from the flavoring process and actually uses the “coffee” as the flavor carrier.
Neighboring Flavormatic is the New Jersey-based Flavor & Fragrance Specialties, which was created in 1983 by technologists seeking to build an innovative company that focused on a limited number of consumer goods and industrial product segments. From its beginning, Flavor & Fragrance has been recognized as a leader in its targeted market channels. Initially, the company was focused on flavors for whole bean coffee, says Jess Nichols, vice president of the coffee division. However, the demand for syrups rapidly took hold. Soon, Flavor & Fragrance Specialties became a vendor of the ‘flavor’ portion of the syrup to companies involved with the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of syrups. Although never a syrup manufacturer, the company’s flavors and technology have always been an integral part of the development of the syrup segments.
After 40 years of working in flavors and food ingredients, Joe Staffieri decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge. In 1999, he formed Flavor Development Corporation, based in Norwood, New Jersey. The company sells its full range of flavors to roasters and roaster retailers throughout North America, providing customization to meet the specifications of roasters. Catherine “Kitty” Juttner, who represents Flavor Development, relates a personal story about how she and a dear friend spent many winter evenings sipping rum and tea. While she didn’t report the year, Juttner points to a “time before the days of flavored coffee and syrups.” “Back around that time,” said Juttner, “when we got together with friends, being European, we drank espressos after dinner. Along with the espresso, out came the cognac and palinka (Hungarian for whiskey), to pour into the espresso or have along with it. Americans were not into espresso yet, and you couldn’t even order it in most restaurants,” she said.
Zyla Vucetovic, flavor business analyst, Danisco USA, Inc. relates how the company is a “one stop shop” for ingredients. An international company that acquired well-known Beck Flavors in the late 1990’s, Danisco offers sugar, sweeteners, emulsifiers, functional systems, textual ingredients and flavors. Although they specialize in flavors for coffee applications, it is increasingly creating products for tea.
Whether a flavored oil or syrup, chocolate has always been a challenge in blending with coffee because of similar chemistry. Michael Szyliowicz, who along with his mother, founded Mont Blanc Gourmet, studied from a maitre chocolatier in Paris, before starting their company in 1985. In the early days, Colorado-based Mont Blanc produced handmade French chocolates for hotels, restaurants, retail stores and cafes. Today, Mont Blanc is supplying a range of chocolate and caramel products to make chocolate, coffee and other special drinks that drive up sales. In their success, Mont Blanc has grown from a ‘two people’ operation to being on Inc. Magazine’s 500 list of the fastest growing companies in the U.S., and for the past two years, the second fastest growing company in Colorado as of the end of 2004.
Some flavor companies, such as Kerry Group’s Da Vinci Gourmet, was originally started by two friends in the confections business in 1989. As the demand for vanilla lattes increased, the founders saw the need for a line of syrups designed specifically for the particular characteristics of specialty coffee. Da Vinci’s syrups are designed to offer sustained flavor, without the overwhelming sweetness, and is balanced to mix in the drink without curdling milk, an issue the company saw with some syrups originally intended for cold beverage applications. Leanna Mix, of Da Vinci, relates how the company produced the first syrup formulated to meet the needs of baristas, which brings a new professional distinction to the coffee, tea and bar industries.
Dawn of a New Age
Flavored drinks and food have an international impact. During the latter part of the 20th century, the influence of flavored coffee and tea beverages spawned new career opportunities. Today, the designated barista is the new bartender of specialty drinks created from an espresso machine. It’s the professionalism of the barista that yields perfection of the specialty espresso or tea beverage in the cup. Baristas are now certified in formal training programs, have opportunities to participate in local, regional, national and international championships and are perceived as talented chefs who develop fancy espresso and tea based beverages.
In Part II, we’ll highlight the latest products, technology, flavor sponsored barista championships and visions of the future for the continued report on the impact the flavor industry plays on the coffee, tea and beverage industries.
Suzanne J. Brown is principal/owner of Brown Marketing Communications LLC, based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her company specializes in product and events marketing, retail program development and public relations. She can be reached at (1)(404) 252-7399, or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details, please visit www.browncommunications.us
Tea & Coffee - January/February, 2006
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