Star Moments of Coffee

Interview with Josue Ruiz, Managing Director of Hochland Kaffee Hunzelmann RS GmbH

Hochland Kaffee Hunzelmann Management
Together with his two sons, Josue Ruiz steers the fortunes of the company

Coffee is more than a hot drink. Coffee is enjoyment and attitude towards life. Driven not least by the trend towards high-quality and even individually selectable coffee-to-go products, consumer awareness of good coffee taste has increased in recent years. Hochland Kaffee Hunzelmann RS GmbH from Stuttgart has been a coffee manufacturer for over 90 years, which, even before the topic became trendy, produced as sustainably and fairly as possible.

Economic forum: Mr. Ruiz, what are the most important products in your range today?

Josue Ruiz: Our ʻColanka’ and ʻHolanka Crema’ varieties are our bestsellers. Our ʻEspresso Rassico’ and our filter coffees ʻKaffeestunde’ and ʻRatsherren’ are also in high demand. Furthermore, we are noticing an increased trend towards whole beans. Fully automatic machines for home use are continuing to gain importance on the market – also facilitated by the developments during and after the pandemic. This demand for bean coffee is reflected in large parts of our assortment.

Josue Ruiz, Managing Director of Hochland Kaffee Hunzelmann RS GmbH
Josue Ruiz, Managing Director of Hochland Kaffee Hunzelmann RS GmbH

On the whole, today's coffee consumers are true connoisseurs and have a more pronounced awareness of aroma and taste. They are more adventurous in their consumption and preparation and increasingly value a diverse range of different coffee varieties. Another indication of the growing quality consciousness is the increased interest in information about individual coffee varieties. With our product range, we can very well meet these developments.

Economic Forum: Are there any other products in your portfolio besides coffee?

Josue Ruiz: Yes, our range also includes tea, chocolate, and gift sets.

Economic Forum: Will there be new products or varieties in the foreseeable future?

Josue Ruiz: We are always working on new developments. Currently, we are developing so-called 'Single Origin' coffees, for example from Costa Rica or Ethiopia. Naturally, we are increasingly focusing on the trend towards coffee rarities and are expanding our range in this area even more.

Highland Coffee Hunzelmann Set Highland-Coffee
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Highland Coffee Hunzelmann Stuttgart Greetings
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Economic Forum: Where do you source your coffee from?

Josue Ruiz: Our main supplier is the coffee cooperative COOPEDOTA in Costa Rica. From it, Highland Coffee sources 50% of its annual raw coffee. This partnership has been in place since 1964, allowing us to celebrate 60 years of direct trade relations. In addition, we work closely with suppliers from Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru, and Ethiopia.

Economic Forum: How do you ensure sustainable production?

Josue Ruiz: We regularly check our supply chains in person, travel to our growing areas, visit the fields and productions, and very thoroughly check the local working conditions and terms. Moreover, we regularly modernize the technologies in the roastery and the production site in Stuttgart. Responsible handling of natural resources has always been part of our company philosophy. Thus, we are currently testing recyclable packaging material for our products. However, a challenge here is that roasted coffee needs a certain level of aroma protection. Otherwise, it loses quality and taste. Not every material can guarantee this.

Economic Forum: Is your coffee Fair Trade certified?

Josue Ruiz: We do not carry coffee with the Fair Trade label because our concept of Direct Trade, that is, maintaining a direct, uninterrupted trade relationship, is in many ways equivalent to or even better than certification. The best example of this is the aforementioned 60-year partnership with COOPEDOTA in Costa Rica. Since 2019, we are also IFS-certified.

Highland Coffee Hunzelmann Tea Varieties
The tea varieties also meet the high quality standards of Highland Coffee Hunzelmann

Economic Forum: What are your topics for the year 2024?

Josue Ruiz: Together with my two sons, I took over the company in September 2023. I myself come from a 'coffee family'. Together, we are now developing a strategy for our future. An important topic in 2024 is definitely the 60th anniversary with our producers in Costa Rica. We will celebrate that. In general, we want to make our brand more well-known, so we will communicate more strongly. We want to show that win-win situations can work economically - even in challenging times.

Economic Forum: How do you assess the market prospects for the year 2024?

Josue Ruiz: The overall situation is difficult. The issue of sustainability will play a big role. The costs of energy and materials are high and burden the market. Logistics problems and stalling supply chains create additional burdens. The economy is uncertain and nervous, leading to unpleasant chain reactions. Of course, this also affects our business. Currently, we produce about 800 t of coffee per year. We have the capacity for 1,000 t and aim to utilize this in the medium and long term. We are economically well-positioned and match the spirit of the times with our products. Therefore, we look forward confidently despite everything.