Top Coffee House in Taiwan Mixes Arabica with Robusta Coffee Fraud

By | November 29, 2019

Coffee House apologizes for mixing coffee beans; products recalled


PurelyCoffeeBeans worries because this story about coffee fraud makes me sad on so many levels… There was absolutely no need to adulterate Arabica with Robusta WITHOUT changing your ingredients label.

Taipei, Nov. 26 (CNA) One of Taiwan’s largest coffeehouse chains on Tuesday made a public apology after admitting the company has been mixing relatively cheap coffee beans with a more expensive variety and selling them at the higher price since last year.

Read the entire story at:

To do this was just a real shame for a coffee shop that I like. Of course, I don’t usually buy their coffee beans… the quality isn’t there. Now I know why. But I suspect that they are not the only company doing that! In the same breath, let me reiterate something the Italians have known for years:

The irony is that Italian coffee companies usually add Robusta to their coffee anyway for that extra ‘kick’ and ‘body’ that is missing in many Arabica beans. It’s a perfectly legitimate way to make coffee! They don’t pretend it’s 100% Arabica when it’s not.

Cost Down Kills Quality – Risks Coffee Fraud

But it is the eternal ‘cost down’ fallacy of doing business here. How does your company respond to the eternal ‘cost down’ directive that gets sent to every business person in Taiwan?

Taipei Times also reports the story “Full Fill Industrial allegedly made illicit gains of about NT$10 million by mixing Arabica and cheaper Robusta beans and selling them as pure Arabica…” (source).

Personal Commentary

This was a whistleblower case of coffee fraud… and coffee fraud is a hard fraud to detect. But unfortunately, you will see there are others. If Arabica is too expensive for their brands, they’ll just junk the coffee and try to keep the brand positioning.

One very big company did that a few years ago. I bought the first bag. Lovely. 2nd bag was just gross. Same bag from the same company. 100% different coffee. I won’t buy coffee from that company again. I still suspect all of their coffee is junky. That was one of the top players in the local beverage market. OK, how about this for an alternative, instead of tricking your customers?

Standards Mean Everything

Once a company’s product standards get diluted, there is nothing left for the company except making money. So roasting and mixing in the wrong beans is a really bad excuse as is poorly trained workers (why blame the workers?).

Based on the information in the Taipei Times‘ article, the company made a decision to allow to go to market a substandard product for a considerable period of time. For it to be a mishap, the company should have found out and made its own decision to change policy, branding or recall the product as faulty. Why the company didn’t will be revealed, I hope.

Full Fill Industrial Co (馥餘)’s brand reputation is now under the spotlight. Taipei Times reports that many of its products are no longer available in supermarkets, several managers are under arrest, and the charges cited include fraudulent labeling and contraventions of the food hygiene act. No idea if they will be found guilty, I’ll leave that decision to the courts.

Insist on Your Standards Always

Let’s compare with another recent but much worse case. It has taken the milk brand, Weichuan (味全) years to recover its market position, and they didn’t do anything wrong themselves. It was by association through co-ownership with Tingshin, an affiliate company that tainted the oil.

Value Up Transforms Business

‘Value UP!’ adds value to your products. If you can’t think of a 100 ways to add value to your products, then perhaps you shouldn’t be selling coffee.

I’d like to finish with a story that shows what the power of Value Up can do, Taiwan News reports that “Taiwan coffee shop chain to expand in Southeast Asia” saying,

The Taiwanese coffee shop franchise cama café is planning to expand its business in Southeast Asia in 2020. Established in 2006, cama café has opened more than 120 branches across the country, generating a total annual revenue of approximately NT$700 million, reported CNA. The coffee shop chain will open its first store in Southeast Asia in the first quarter next year, said founder Benny Ho (何炳霖). (source)

If you’re interested in reading more about Arabica Coffee’s importance, check out these articles:

What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

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