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Douwe Egberts

Douwe Egberts

Capsules of Coffee and the iPhone

1 – past and future

There is a beautiful expression in French, to my knowledge, has no literal English equivalent: Skip retreat pay better. That is what we must do at times: the return of this step to discard safely forward in the future. This also applies to coffee and its technology: it can be useful to look back to learn from our past and use it as a guide.

If we go back and watch the time since the invention "coffee", we note that the history of coffee "we know" is incredibly short. If you take a meter to represent the time elapsed since the birth of Coffea arabica genetic (apparently born as a variation of canephora, one million years), coffee influence on human life is a period of time equivalent to the last two mm: in fact, we are led to believe that drinking coffee has begun (approximately? perhaps?) around the Christian year zero, somewhere in Ethiopia.

Following this line of thought, a Western point of view the linear equivalent of the history of coffee is only four tenths of a millimeter: 400 years have passed since that fateful day when Clement VIII baptized coffee (the same year that Pope even let Giordano Bruno burned at the stake), while only 300 years have passed since the Amsterdam stock exchange has begun trading Yemen Non-coffee (he was in Indonesia, Dutch Batavia), and barely 200 years or so Camille Desmoulins (in the Cafe de Foy in Paris) shouted "Call to Arms", which triggers the start of the French Revolution – but most important for us this officially approved cafes placesin as public opinion shifted from gossip to politics.

In fact, if we think the technology coffee itself, we are face the same short time span. In 2006, we celebrated the first centenary of the first public exhibition of espresso machines at the Expo Universal Milan. And even if you look earlier under pressure (or at least moderate pressure) Methods of preparation of coffee, we find Angelo Moriondo in the 1880s and 1860s Loysiel – in all only 150 years ago.

Finally, when you look at history knowledge in the field of flavors (perhaps the most intriguing feature of coffee), we find that the coffee science made a breakthrough major with the invention of gas chromatography in the 1950s. In fact, the identification of aromatic coffee has been a leap decade in 1968 (about 180 flavors available) and 1978 (about 580 flavors available). In those years we knew nothing about coffee flavors, even if cars, telephones, computers and the Beatles had all been invented.

How do we know about coffee today?


Talk about innovation in general terms, how most prudent for companies focused on innovation to protect their results is by a patent. Patents protect investments in R & D against the "easy riders": companies that want to copy the innovative costs, without effort to obtain technology using the knowledge others took months or years to develop. This is the case in the system by Senseo Douwe Egberts / Philips's patents had not and not the market has been inundated with (cheaper) me-too's. In fact, if we look a different way, patent protection is a limitation Competition law – which is the reason why patents have limits of time and cost money.

It is known that small firms are more adaptable, flexible and responsive in an environment to nurture innovative thinking. Small businesses, with their short lines of command, are better suited to risk-taking companies, such as those needed to cope with the unpredictability of real innovation. However, once technologies become less fluid, small innovations can be easily developed and patented by mass large companies, then use that property rights Many programs have intellectual defense of patents to maintain or gradually increase their market share. In other words, the more an industry tends to maturity, the greater the economic power of each competitor that really matters, also involved in innovation. This is true in the automotive, oil industries, and in the world of consumer electronics. See for example these data:


(EPO database) 9/2009-2/2010

PHILIPS> 100,000 NA

SAMSUNG> 100,000 NA

SONY> 100,000 NA

SHELL 81.240 + 0.8%

EXXON 50.246 NA

MICROSOFT 47.670 7.05%

NESTLE 19.091 + 0.21%


FIAT 14.463 + 0.51%

Mercedes + 7.966 0.21%

APPLE 7.898 + 9.05%

GOOGLE 2.508 + 16.65%

AMAZON 570 + 12.42%

(Source: database of the EPO Online accessed 8 February 2010; growth data available on September 17, 2009)

If we compare in February 2010 the EPO data with similar data for research in September 2009, we can say that, whatever the maturity of a particular industry, patents are good indicators Technology Development "Liveness" of this industry. In about five months that the IT companies to grow at double digits and (even in terms absolute) rank at the top of the list in terms of number of new patents. The statistics confirm our conviction: the latest technology, higher the rate of new patents. The technical support of this observation coffee?

Probably yes, in the sense that most patents are filed with respect to the most recent areas of coffee research. In the case of the most popular beverage in the world "" We know that this is the only service market. It is so because, until recently coffee suffered a major drawback: it should be brewed. Unlike wine, where Only a cork between the product manufactured from the experience of coffee depends on the skills of the person in charge of its preparation. (At best the skills of the maker of the coffee machine.)

Until very recently, except the most People with this rule was Instant Coffee – one of the reasons why, despite its theoretical inferiority, coffee Dehydrated is both very popular and the subject of further innovative patents, especially by leaders such as Nestle and Kraft / Jacobs. From this point of view, innovation in the automotive industry and coffee reveals identical features: it is a work of fine-tuning mainly developed by the market leaders.

Excluding instant coffee (and we'll include in this group of his lesser brother coffee liquid) little progress in the preparation of coffee – or, better, run – was made long ago. I'm talking about when the French began use socks (the socks: not exactly sorcerer) to filter the coffee, and a German housekeeper (Melitta Bentz) refined the French idea of "inventing" a filter paper cone. Finally, all this has been revolutionized by the Italians, who has found a way completely different to the pleasures of caffeine and started brewing at high pressure, which makes invent espresso. But after Cremonese and Gaggia, which is World War II, it seems as if – for a long time – coffee technologists believed that "everything had been said," as folk singer Nick Drake has sung few dared to change all known rules.

This is why the recent trend of "ready to prepare" packaging has been offset by an equally impressive new high patents in this area of research on coffee tiny. Among these many are filed by small businesses. Indeed, while in the automotive industry such as manufacturing or oil, the number patents filed by a certain society tend to be a Xerox copy of its respective market shares, this is not so in the coffee market in single serving. See for yourself:

Contains Applicant Number.
word "coffee" Patent
the abstract

329 Nestec 5.578

KRAFT 286 10.140

79 UCC 233

43 Douwe Egberts 463

TCHIBO 38 123

Illycaffè 99 297

Keurig 6 122



(Source: database of the EPO Online, February 8, 2010)


At first glance, the huge number of patents on the coffee between the Nineties and now lead us to believe that innovation patented in the coffee industry has played a role similar to that which has played in many mature industries. Two distinct arguments confirm and further limit the validity of this statement and allow us to better target our perspective on innovation of coffee.

Firstly, it is true: innovation integrated into many of these patents is not a different kind. Often residues, defensive patents, are not comparable to those Cremonese in 1938 and – later – extraordinary barista Achille Gaggia (copy of Cremona, to a certain extent) is deposited and integrated into their devices.

Only the latest technology mixing appear to be quite innovative. As mentioned earlier, they are designed for closed systems such as Nespresso and Monodor (mainly deposited in the eighties and nineties) or HyperEspresso Illy and – and my – MaxEx Tuttoespresso's (filed between 2003 and 2006).

No doubt, surprisingly, or intuitively – depending on your point of view – in serving unique systems were the most obvious way to improve the quality brewing and patents on innovation coffee. I say intuitively because the systems single-serving size is, so far, the least expensive to add a notion of repeatability of high quality coffee preparation. I say this because the surprise or products ensure MaxEx HyperEspresso a total quantity of coffee extracts higher than that usually obtained with the standards currently available.

At the end of the day "Coffee Machines" guarantee consumers today of a coffee – quality not found ceteris paribus – Traditional (and much more expensive) professional machines: they offer a more enjoyable experience of coffee ", or – more technical – they improve the sensory profile hedonic. All things considered, Nespresso can be marketed as a premium luxury, but (even with the "second generation espresso capsules" Hyperespresso as Illy or MaxEx Kimbo) is not an expensive way to get a good espresso.

Which brings us to our second line of reflection: the number of patents filed by the technologists of coffee does not reflect their respective market share, and this is contrary to what we could We expect mature industries – like the coffee industry is generally considered.

The Kraft and Nestec (Nestlé R & D company) of the data cited above are too fake to be considered as representative: the total number of patents include several areas of research beyond coffee, and elsewhere, using the word "coffee" in the abstract as an indicator of technology is related to coffee not enough, as we would need to include several other terms such as "container", "capsule", "drink", "distributor", etc. But observing other companies (all who are involved mainly in coffee and vary considerably in size), we can conclude that there no direct correlation between the mass of funding and the number of patents filed. The underlying reason for this lack of correlation is that the technology of coffee, and especially the technology of making coffee, is (ironically) still in a liquid phase and some of these systems are outlined "the shape of the coffee future experiments.

Many of these systems are from relatively small companies. Indeed, when seeking the "Ultimate extraction method, developed Illy Hyperespresso perhaps inspired by a capsule with a small start-up called Itaca, established by one of the two gentlemen behind UNOPS. And as history tends to repeat itself, while UNOPS was bought by Lavazza it 20 years ago (and used to build the system to win Espresso Point) Itaca is now owned 50% by Illy. Same thing with Lavazza Blue (created on license fees negotiated with an ex-employee Nestec) and even the origin of all, with its pods Cyrus Melikian paper in 1950, began as a small businessman.

4 – The value chains and the iPhone

To gain a perspective More significant, however, our observations should be used in conjunction with business theories that have been developed to explain the Globalization in its end of the twentieth century version. We hear words like global value chain and oligopsonists, concepts that serve a simple purpose: to identify the actor Global controls the generation of value of its own industry. In the case of coffee, oligopsonists are living proof that these concepts are not jargon cosmetics used by business-school students graduate, they are conceptual models designed to explain the realities of a razor sharp and why – whether it be Romania, Brazil or the Philippines – it is difficult to find a coffee market where one of oligopsonists Coffee is not the lead.

Viral marketing, 360 concepts of co-marketing, branding and redundant features are ubiquitous the most visible of oligopsonists's. In this colorful window dressing is a terrible financial mass and relative or absolute control of distribution channels, the essential features for people who want to succeed in the mass seduction. These companies can adapt their language at all levels of single socio-political spheres, shaping the normative and ambient imagery of their own future as they tend to sell us our own.

Seen through the filter of this analysis, R & D creates a stiff barrier for smaller players, when oligopsonists pay hundreds of patents on the market. Yet We have seen that R & D may be an opportunity for small companies: because innovation is a job best suited for small teams slow, rich hierarchy, bureaucratic companies. Indeed, whenever the technology is still fluid, innovation tools are available to small players and they become extremely difficult or attempted (always depending on your perspective) for major players: they represent a shortcut to a competitive advantage.

Therefore, if we take the example of the mobile phone industry, Apple has acquired FingerWorks, a small company that had developed some technology touchscreen iPhone is rented. Apple now owns these delicious interely (And patented) Features: this means that for a long time, up to twenty years, Apple will most likely prevent the features from appearing in any mobile phone like. No wonder that when you search for "iPhone" on Google gives 454 million visitors, while "God" is just 372 million. I tried the same search in September 2009 and it was different: "God" has accumulated 381 million hits, while the iPhone had "only" 372 million euros. I think that – in the last five months – something must have been brewing up there in sky.


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Why Life Speeds Up As You Get Older

Why Life Speeds Up As You Get Older


In this enchanting book, Douwe Draaisma explores the nature of autobiographical memory and extraordinary phenomena.

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The Rattle-Rat

The Rattle-Rat


Douwe Scherjoen was a well-to-do livestock dealer from the remote Dutch province of Friesland. Then his corpse was found, half-charred by flames, floating in a dory in Amsterdam’s harbor. No one knows why he was in the nation’s capital, far from the bucolic pleasures of his native village of Dingjum. But since Grijpstra is Friesian by birth and can understand the dialect, he and his partner de Gier are dispactched to find the killeror at least the motive for the crime. And they discover that while no one, not even his wife, liked the victim, the culprit is the unlikliest suspect of all.

The Search for a New Alphabet

The Search for a New Alphabet


Literary Studies is currently going through a deep transformation, preparing itself for the launch into the twenty-first century. The present volume, which is dedicated to Douwe Fokkema on the occasion of his retirement from Utrecht University, captures this transformation in a number of squibs by a select international group of scholars. Topics dealt with are: canon formation, conventions, cultural relativism, hermeneutics vs. empirical studies, and the problem of values, all themes very much central to current discussions in comparative literature and literary theory. Taken together they form a variegated picture of a discipline in a changing world, continually involved, so to speak, in ‘The Search for a New Alphabet.’

Perfect Worlds

Perfect Worlds


Perfect Worlds is an extensive, comparative study of utopian narratives in both the East and the West. Douwe Fokkema provides an elegant argument about the human impulse to imagine new and better worlds, astutely observing that the utopian imagination thrives in the context of secularization. Fokkema also tracks the rise of dystopian narratives, invoking authors as diverse as Margaret Atwood and Lao She, and provides a cogent evaluation of the role of imagined worlds in both Chinese and Euro-American fiction. A shrewd comparison of cultures, as well as a vivid account of cross-cultural influence, this volume is a welcome addition to the scholarly discourse on utopias.




Deze bundel presenteert interdisciplinair onderzoek rond het thema innovatie. De krititische vragen die L.C. Brinkman, destijds minister van WVC, bij het begrip innovatie in de kunst stelt, worden beantwoord door de theater wetenschapper Henri Schoenmakers. De bijdragen op het gebied van muziek (Paul Op de Coul), architectuur (A.W. Reinink) en de letterkunde (Hans Bertens) gaan in op de spanning tussen conventie en innovatie. Deze spanning is ook de leidraad in het betoog van Johan Somerwil en F. Roos, sprekend vanuit hun ervaring met het uitgeversbedrijf en de wereld van de financele diensten. De historici H.W. von der Dunk en Pim den Boer relativeren de cultus van het nieuwe. A.D. Wolff-Albers noteert haar reserves tegenover radicale veranderingen in het wetenschapsbeleid. De comparatist Douwe Fokkema en de historicus T. van Tijn onderzoeken regelmatigheden in culturele en conjuncturele vernieuwing. Innovatie bevat het verslag van een in 1988 gehouden symposium, dat heeft geleid to een vruchtbare dialoog over de disciplinegrenzen heen.

Critical Perspectives on Food Sovereignty

Critical Perspectives on Food Sovereignty


This volume is a pioneering contribution to the study of food politics and critical agrarian studies, where food sovereignty has emerged as a pivotal concept over the past few decades, with a wide variety of social movements, on-the-ground experiments, and policy innovations flying under its broad banner. Despite its large and growing popularity, the history, theoretical foundations, and political program of food sovereignty have only occasionally received in-depth analysis and critical scrutiny. This collection brings together both longstanding scholars in critical agrarian studies, such as Philip McMichael, Bina Agarwal, Henry Bernstein, Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, and Marc Edelman, as well as a dynamic roster of early- and mid-career researchers. The ultimate aim is to advance this important frontier of research and organizing, and put food sovereignty on stronger footing as a mobilizing frame, a policy objective, and a plan of action for the human future. Thisvolume was published as part one ofthespecial doubleissue celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Journal of Peasant Studies .

International Postmodernism

International Postmodernism


Containing more than fifty essays by major literary scholars, International Postmodernism divides into four main sections. The volume starts off with a section of eight introductory studies dealing with the subject from different points of view followed by a section that deals with postmodernism in other arts than literature, while a third section discusses renovations of narrative genres and other strategies and devices in postmodernist writing. The final and fourth section deals with the reception and processing of postmodernism in different parts of the world. Three important aspects add to the special character of International Postmodernism : The consistent distinction between postmodernity and postmodernism; equal attention to the making and diffusion of postmodernism and the workings of literature in general; and the focus on the text and the reader (i.e., the reader’s knowledge, experience, interests, and competence) as crucial factors in text interpretation. This comprehensive study does not expressly focus on American postmodernism, although American interpretations of postmodernism are a major point of reference. The recognition that varying literary and cultural conditions in this world are bound to produce endless varieties of postmodernism made the editors, Hans Bertens and Douwe Fokkema, opt for the title International Postmodernism .

Approaching Postmodernism

Approaching Postmodernism


Most of the essays collected in this volume deal with theoretical issues that dominate the international debate on Postmodernism, issues such as the shifting nature of the concept, the problem of periodization and the problem of historicity. Other essays offer readings of Postmodernist texts and relate practical criticism to a theoretical framework. Hans Bertens (Utrecht) sketches the historical development of the concept Postmodernism in American criticism, distinguishing between the various definitions that have been proposed over the last twenty-five years, in an attempt to bring some order to the field and to facilitate future discussion. Brian McHale (Tel Aviv) and Douwe Fokkema (Utrecht) offer models for the description of Postmodernist texts. Richard Todd (Amsterdam) argues convincingly that Postmodernism is much more of a presence in contemporary British fiction than has so far been assumed, and Herta Schmid (Munich) presents a similar argument with respect to Russian avant-garde theater. Elrud Ibsch (Amsterdam) presents a contrastive analysis of Thomas Bernhard and Robert Musil; Ulla Musarra (Nijmegen) writes on Italo Calvino. The relation between Existentialism and Postmodernism is examined by Gerhard Hoffman (Wrzburg); Theo D’haen (Utrecht) finds important parallels between Postmodernism in literature and in the visual arts; Matei Calinescu (Bloomington, Ind.) relates literary Postmodernism to a far more general cultural shift, rejecting, however, Foucault’s notion of an epistemic break and arguing for both continuity and discontinuity. Finally, Helmut Lethen (Utrecht) and Susan Suleiman (Harvard) sharply question the concept of Postmodernism. Suleiman argues that the supposed Postmodernist reaction against Modernism may well be a critical myth or, if it isn’t, a reaction limited to the American literary situation.
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