A Growing German Coffee Empire: JAB Holding and Krispy Kreme

The Reimann Family Goes Out for Coffee und Doughnuts

I earlier wrote about my beef with weak German coffee, so the recent news about wealthy Germans buying up Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. for about $1.35 billion caught my eye. German-owned JAB Holding Company is almost unknown to the average person, but this giant investment group has a controlling interest in many brand names you know and love.

Einstein Bros sign

The German investment group JAB Holding Co. owns Einstein Bros. Bagels. This sign formerly proclaimed a Krispy Kreme location, as is still evident by its unique bowtie shape. PHOTO: Hyde Flippo

Today’s trivia question: What do Bally, Caribou Coffee, Coty, Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), Jimmy Choo, Keurig Green Mountain, Krispy Kreme, and Peet’s Coffee & Tea all have in common? Answer: They are all held by JAB Holding Co., a family-owned enterprise that dates back to 1823 in Pforzheim, Germany. German chemist Ludwig Reimann took over the company in the mid-1800s after the original founder Johann Adam Benckiser (now immortalized as JAB) sold his interest to Reimann – who had married Benckiser’s daughter. Today the privately held investment group is in the hands of four adopted Reimann (RYE-MAN) siblings: Wolfgang Reimann, Stefan Reimann-Andersen, Renate Reimann-Haas, and Matthias Reimann-Andersen. Their combined wealth is estimated to be around $17.6 billion, or about $4.4 billion each.

Krispy Kreme logo

JAB Holding, along with its various subsidiaries, has been on a buying spree over the last few years. Although it has stakes in cosmetics, fragrances, cleansers, clothing, and shoes, JAB’s focus of late has been on coffee – and doughnuts. Five of its recent acquisitions have added coffee and tea to the fold. The latest purchase, expected to be finalized in a few months, is that all-American institution known as Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. For $1.35 billion (along with minority investor, BDT Capital Partners), JAB-controlled JAB Beech will add the doughnut chain to its holdings, with coffee on its mind. JAB and its subsidiaries already control many popular coffee brands: Jacobs, Kaffee HAG, Kenco, Millicano, Gevalia, and Tassimo (under its Mondelez division), plus Douwe Egberts, Senseo, and Pilão (under D.E Master Blenders). With its recent Caribou, Peet’s, and Keurig acquisitions, JAB Holding, the former number three in coffee now becomes number two in the world, better able to compete with number one Nestlé, the giant Swiss player in Kaffee. Continue reading

Drinking Kaffee in Germany

You can tell when you have crossed the frontier into Germany because of the badness of the coffee.
– Edward VII (1841-1910, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert)*

I’m a devoted coffee drinker. I drink it wherever I am, especially in Europe. I’ve had coffee in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and even Slovenia. The Germans always rave about their coffee, but I think German coffee is highly overrated. There, I’ve said it. Now here’s why I say it.

First, there is no such thing as “German coffee.” Coffee trees don’t really flourish in northern Europe. All that Dallmayr, Hag, Jacobs and Tchibo coffee gets to Germany via Bremen, Hamburg and other European ports. That’s no different than the rest of Europe. Other than the type of bean, the main difference is the roast. (The brewing methods are pretty similar all across Europe.) The beans are usually Arabica, so that leaves the roast. And I think the roast is the problem.

A German Coffee
A “German coffee” is a type of cocktail made with Kirschwasser, coffee and whipped cream. That’s definitely not what we’re talking about here!

Germans generally like milder flavors. They really aren’t into spicy or pungent. That’s why “Mexican” food in Germany is not even close to Mexican. Foreign foods (Chinese, Indian, even Italian) get toned down for German taste buds. Continue reading

Furry Love Part 2

The big day had come. We were nervous. My wife was busy cleaning. The house was spotless, which is certainly not normal for us. Cleaning was something that we both hate doing. We had all the windows open to air out the place, even though it was only about 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside.

Frau X was sitting at our kitchen table. She was wearing a black sweater and faux pearl necklace to go along with her black rimmed glasses. Her perfume wafted through the kitchen. A big folder of papers sat in front of her, not unlike that big book that often sits in front of a preacher during a sermon. Our file was in that stack somewhere.

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