HeyCafé: Proudly made in China

There are few companies in the world with a stronger presence in the coffee grinder segment than the Hemro Group. With a portfolio of grinder brands that already includes Mahlkönig, Ditting and Anfim, the Hemro Group’s footprint in the global coffee industry is already considerable. However, while Hemro’s three flagship brands all carry very strong identities that speak of high-end European manufacturing and cater to the premium end of the coffee market, the Group is now looking to broaden its footprint into the growing “value-for-money” market segment in Asia. That is why, at the beginning of 2016, the Hemro Group announced plans to add Chinese grinder manufacturer HeyCafé to its portfolio. Founded in 2006 by Israeli entrepreneur and engineer Ilan Maimon, HeyCafé is the market leader for espresso grinders in mainland China and also has significant market share in South Korea and Thailand. Based in in Changzhou, two hours northwest of Shanghai, HeyCafé offers various expresso grinders, a bulk grinder and built-in grinders for fully automated coffee machines. “The name HeyCafé is a tribute to the idea of creating a truly Chinese company,” Maimon tells Global Coffee Report. “In Chinese, it means black coffee and is part of my vision to lay the foundation of a truly Chinese leading company for coffee grinders.” Over the past 10 years, HeyCafé has well and truly fulfilled Maimon’s vision in its home market. “We are definitely the most professional, technically most advanced and sole quality-driven Asian based coffee grinder manufacturer,” he says. It was this level of sophistication in HeyCafé’s operations that attracted the Hemro Group to the company, says Hemro’s Chief Financial Officer, Jochen Christoph. “HeyCafé has a proven track record of delivering professional coffee grinding equipment to Asian markets,” Christoph says. “It is not a start-up, nor it is any kind of backyard manufacturing company that tinkers with coffee grinders. Their operations in Changzhou are very professionally organised and managed – I am sure you will not find too many mid-size production companies in China running that well.” In addition to this, Christoph says, is the spirit in which HeyCafé is run, with the atmosphere of a family business, that made it a clear candidate for partnership with the Hemro Group. “In a nutshell, HeyCafé is simply a great company with amazing people,” Christoph says. “This made HeyCafé our first choice to enlarge our footprint in Asia by gaining market access outside the premium segment and adding production facilities outside Europe to the Hemro Group.” Christoph says that Asia represents an important opportunity for the future of his company. “Have a look at the 2014 – 2016 World Barista Champions,” Christoph says. “Two out of three representing Asian markets (the 2014 winner was Hidenori Izaki of Japan, while the 2016 winner was Berg Wu of Taiwan).” On top of that is the explosion of specialty coffee culture in China, which after many years of threatening to take off is now really beginning to take hold. “Take a walk through any major Chinese city, you will be impressed by the number of coffee shops and the quality of the served coffee,” Christoph says. “I just enjoyed one of the best drip brews – served in a coffee shop in Shanghai. Our strategy as the leading global coffee grinding solutions provider is to participate in this growth story and to support the coffee community in all of Asia with state-of-the-art equipment.” Christoph says that in the emerging Asian markets in particular, there is room for different brands to cater to distinct market segments. “With our brands Mahlkönig, Ditting and Anfim, we are the market leader in the premium to mid-end segments,” he says. “But there is a growing demand from what market intelligence calls the pragmatic customer in Asia – customers expecting real value for money but not being entirely thrilled by foreign brands. That is where HeyCafé comes into play. Adding HeyCafé as a regional brand to our portfolio, we will meet this growing demand with smart grinders at real value for money.” While value for money is a big part of HeyCafé’s identity, Christoph says, that does not mean that quality is ever compromised. “Hemro Group and HeyCafé both strive for the best taste of coffee in the cup, so it goes without saying that we want to be the quality frontrunners in developing markets – and support all those baristas and coffee shops that share that vision, too,” he says. HeyCafé’s Maimon says that teaming up with the Hemro Group will help his company to take the next step in its development. “Together with the Hemro Group, we will refine our products technically to even more meet customer expectations,” Maimon says. While Maimon will stay on as General Manager of HeyCafé, he says that the new alliance will help to boost expertise in areas where he was not so focused. “My focus is clearly on operations and product development. I have to admit that sales and finance are not my most favorite subjects,” he says. “Hemro Group with its regional sales office in Shanghai, its global sales network, outstanding research and development facilities and dedicated people is the perfect match.” The two companies formalised their partnership at the beginning of 2016 and are now undergoing an extensive process to align their businesses in all major areas. While the process is a painstaking one, it has also been enlightening for both parties as they work through their systems together. “It will be exciting to bring the development spirit of both companies together,” says Christoph. “Essentially, HeyCafé and Hemro Group start from two opposite directions – East versus West as well as value for money versus premium. I am sure we will learn a lot from each other in terms of creativity, new technologies and efficiency.” GCR

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