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An inspiring relationship:

A subtle aroma of coffee drifts through Optima’s 100-year success story.

Following the scent through the decades reveals special moments of inspiration and creativity. It also opens a window to the history of consumers and packaging.

In the 1920s, coffee was a coveted luxury product that was transported and stored with special care. The basic prerequisite was accurate weighing and filling. However, at this time only very few weighing and filling machines were suitable to fill the precious good. Otto Bühler, the founder of the company, recognized the signs of the times and the great demand for Optima’s automatic precision filling scales. It was the start of the Optima/coffee relationship that continues to this day. Still this is not, by any means, the only success story at Optima.

In the 1950s, after many years of hardship, the desire for a “nice cup of coffee” was growing. Coffee consumption skyrocketed and therefore, the market demand for Optima machines. At this time, whole coffee beans were dispensed into a variety of container types. Kaffeehof GmbH Bremen came up with the idea to package coffee into vacuum-sealed containers consisting of a tin can with a tear strip. This innovation revolutionized the coffee packaging industry.

During the 1950s and 1960s, a “hot” new trend began: freeze-dried coffee. New packaging solutions had to be designed to fill instant coffee into a rigid container that was easy to open and close while retaining the coffee flavor. Hygiene and product safety became paramount, as well as accurate dosing while considering the weight of the container. Optima adapted to the challenges of filling this product and was soon recognized as a market leader.

The 1960s saw the beginning of the coffee era. Until then, people mainly filled containers with whole beans or instant coffee, but the 60s were the beginning of the steady advance of pre-ground coffee. This was the start of a new trend towards convenience products that saved consumers time and effort – with better and, most importantly, consistent quality. 

In the same decade, “ARP cans” also celebrated their debut: these were tin cans with resealable plastic lids. And yet another form of packaging was taking over food shelves: pouch packaging! It offered a variety of size options and costs were dramatically reduced. Optima was able to remain flexible and provide the right filling and packaging solutions to meet all requirements.

In 2006, at the FachPack trade show in Nuremberg, Optima presented the “Softcan Maker” packaging machine. Cyclero®, a foil container filled on the “Softcan Maker”, was not made of aluminum, metal or glass; but from a film material that still provided the required product protection. It was resealable and suitable for chunky, powder and granulate products alike. But the real twist is that Cyclero® was manufactured inline in the Optima equipment just before it was filled. This, in turn, meant dramatically reduced storage and transportation costs. Both discounters and brand owners recognized the potential for filling coffee into this new container – and then the innovation took off: From the trade show straight to the supermarkets.

An espresso connoisseur from Italy, naturally, was the person who invented the coffee pad back in the 1970s. A milestone in individual enjoyment, but it would take until the first decade of the new millennium for the pads to capture a significant market share. Optima also had the right systems for these “single-serve packages” and continued to fine-tune it. Just a few years later, Optima machines were already processing an astounding 1,800 flavor protected portion packs per minute.

Better crema, more aroma, and even greater convenience – that’s what the coffee capsule stands for. Starting in 2001 the coffee capsule established itself on the market on a large scale. With sustainability in mind, Optima has been working with prestigious partners on a fully recyclable mono-material capsule with maximum product protection, and, of course, is supplying the packaging system to go with it. The result is the GreenLution capsule, which has been distinguished and certified as fully recyclable by independent institutes. The capsule definitely deserves its name.

To be continued …