Posted in Kafevend Blog

Today we are going to be having a look at a company you may never have heard of - Franck. Where brands like Tetley and Twinings are instantly recognisable in the UK, Franck has a similar reputation in Croatia, where it's been a household name for decades having established itself there back in 1892. Now popular for its coffee, it didn't actually start out selling the bean.

The company Franck takes its name from its founder, a German named Johann Heinrich Franck who was born in 1792. In the early 19th century, Johann spent some time travelling in France. During his visit, he passed through a number of small French villages and wrote notes about the drinks French peasants made using roasted chicory roots. Realising the potential for profit, on his return to Germany he set up a business in his home town of Enzweihingen in the south of Germany near Stuttgart.

Coffee was a popular drink by this time in much of Europe, but it wasn't quite the readily accessible commodity as we know it today. By using chicory, Franck hoped to offer those without the money available for coffee an alternative. Chicory roots can be similarly roasted and ground like coffee beans and used to make a drink, and have seen use as a coffee substitute since the beginning of the 19th century. For example, during the American Civil War, the people of New Orleans resorted to using chicory when coffee supplies were cut off by naval blockades.

Chicory's use as either a coffee substitute or adulterant has led to negative connotations, which are not entirely justified as like the difference between tea and coffee, chicory has a distinctive taste all on its own. It also works well mixed with coffee, as anyone who enjoys camp coffee would tell you. The people of Enzweihingen certainly liked it, and Johann met with success. In 1853, he handed control of the company over to his eldest son Wilhelm. Along with his brothers, they expanded by opening a factory in Ludwigsberg, near Munich, in 1868 and later another factory in Zagreb in 1892.

Franck moved its centre of operations to the Zagreb factory in 1892 and it has remained there ever since, much to the benefit of the people of Croatia. Franck stuck to chicory and coffee supplements until 1957, but as wages increased and lent people more leeway with the purchases they made, Franck began to branch out into coffee itself. These days, Franck produce a range of coffees, including espressos, as well as a variety of teas and even their own range of crisps, nuts and popcorn!

You'll often find Franck coffee in the many cafés around Croatia, as its long history in the country has earned it a brand loyalty amongst the population and even from the government itself. Many of its products have been awarded the Croatian quality label, which is given out to items that represent the best in their field. Their espresso fits in well with the highly social Croatian café culture. Apparently a demitasse can last for hours!

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