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SUSTAINABILITY REPORT 2014

High quality requirements, strict controls

We strive to always offer top product quality at fair prices. Our customers should be able to count on our coffees having the best aroma and flavour, as well as on the safety and longevity of our innovative consumer goods. To ensure this, our production always follows strict, uniform standards. We regard legal require­ments as minimum require­ments that we go above and beyond in many aspects. We test the quality of our products ourselves as well as with the assis­tance of independent external insti­tutes.

We stipulate clear require­ments regarding our products’ safety, function­ality, workmanship and materials. The Tchibo Social and Environ­mental Code of Conduct (SCoC) also prescribes social and environ­mental standards for their production – because the Tchibo quality promise applies not only to product traits, but also to the condi­tions they are produced under.

Selected suppliers produce for Tchibo according to the strictest quality speci­fi­ca­tions: as part of our quality assurance, all products are tested for compliance with these speci­fi­ca­tions before we offer them for sale. We conduct our own extensive checks and inspec­tions and also work with a number of independent third-party testing insti­tutes. The tests are based on legal require­ments and inter­na­tional standards as well as our own Tchibo speci­fi­ca­tions, which are often stricter than those of the legis­lators. The TCM (Tchibo Certified Merchandise) quality seal distin­guishes consumer goods produced exclu­sively for Tchibo and guarantees that they were subjected to stringent tests for harmful substances.

Despite our high standards, we cannot completely rule out occasional quality issues. In such cases, we help our customers assert guarantees and claims, and treat them with goodwill and fairness (Customer service).

Coffee: across-the-board quality standards

We apply our quality standards across the entire coffee value chain – from coffee plant culti­vation to the packaging of the roasted beans.

  • Culti­vation: we use top-of-the-line beans from high-quality Arabica coffee plants for our coffee. For several products in our Espresso range, we also use Robusta coffee to achieve the ‘typical’ Espresso flavour. In addition to our high quality standards, we also promote environ­men­tally and socially respon­sible culti­vation methods in the countries of origin. To that end, we are system­at­i­cally increasing the share of our processed green coffee that has been validated and certified by inter­na­tionally recog­nised standards organ­i­sa­tions. In our sourcing, we rely on good, long-standing supplier relation­ships with exporters and traders, as well as direct relation­ships with coffee farmers. Our coffee experts regularly visit the producing countries to check on the culti­vation methods and quality of the green coffee.
  • Transport: because green coffee beans age rapidly and absorb external odours and flavours, we ensure rapid, careful transport immedi­ately after harvest.
  • Roasting: the beans first undergo quality control. Small amounts are roasted and brewed so that coffee tasters can identify the fullness, acidity and aroma of the coffee and defini­tively determine the recipe of the final product. At the roasting plant, green coffee is turned into roasted coffee – a crucial process that brings out the various flavours of the coffee beans. Our roasters are Inter­na­tional Food Standards (IFS 5) compliant, which ensures strict hygiene standards and a complete documen­tation of the entire roasting process.
  • Packaging: the aroma of coffee is extremely sensitive to oxygen, humidity, light, and heat. High-quality packaging is required to protect it. Tchibo coffee is vacuum-packed in plastic film. We guarantee the harmlessness of the materials used in this process and guarantee that the packaging does not affect the flavour. Unfor­tu­nately, aluminium is still required for the lamination and vapor­i­sation of the plastic films, but we are looking into more eco-friendly solutions.


Our require­ments regarding the quality of Tchibo coffee are summarised in the binding Tchibo Coffee Quality Standards. Our central Coffee Quality Management team verifies compliance with these, regularly checks the quality of our coffee, and takes appro­priate action if there are devia­tions.

Consumer goods: quality from product devel­opment to point of sale

Quality is built-in at Tchibo from the very first idea. A team of product managers, designers, buyers, quality devel­opers and testers – all of them experts in their respective fields, e.g. electrical items or clothing – is respon­sible for the product idea and its planning and imple­men­tation. Together, they work towards ensuring the customer’s satis­faction with a product’s quality, design and price.

Tchibo’s quality management process covers the four steps of product devel­opment, quality devel­opment, quality assurance, and ensuring compliance with customer infor­mation require­ments.

  • Product devel­opment: first, our quality management experts determine the materials and design require­ments for a product. Important criteria include longevity, practi­cality and maximum product safety. Only suppliers that agree to comply with the Tchibo SCoC are commis­sioned to manufacture products. [Link to Chapter 300 Consumer Goods Value Chain]
  • Quality devel­opment: a regular monitoring of the manufac­turing process through product samples and on-site visits to factories is indis­pensable for quality devel­opment. To make sure the items are trans­ported appro­pri­ately and without damage, we also set high quality require­ments for transport and packaging. Various tests ensure that our products are well protected on their way to the Tchibo shops, Depots or directly to the customer.
  • Quality assurance: all consumer goods are subjected to a final incoming goods inspection according to the Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) procedure. This ensures that all quality require­ments were put into practice and that the product sold to the customer is without flaws. The final inspection takes place at an Inspection Centre in the respective production country before shipment, or upon delivery to the main warehouse in Bremen – or, depending on the product, in both countries.
  • Ensuring compliance with customer infor­mation require­ments: in accor­dance with our integrative under­standing of quality, our high aspira­tions don’t end with product delivery, for quality is also a crucial factor in sales and customer consul­tation. Products come with detailed product infor­mation and operating instruc­tions, all of which is also available online in our online shop. It goes without saying that we comply with all appli­cable norms regarding the structure and clarity of operating instruc­tions.
  • Integrating customer feedback: when our customers purchase a product, another important phase in our quality assurance process begins. Prede­fined infor­mation paths ensure that all relevant insights regarding potential improve­ments are incor­po­rated in the devel­opment of successor products. We evaluate customer returns and get feedback from our Tchibo shop staff. For instance, we conduct monthly surveys of our Tchibo shop managers to see how well the weekly ranges are received by customers, and whether there are any sugges­tions for improvement.

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Inten­sified global exchange regarding new quality require­ments

In 2014 we further strengthened our quality management with the intro­duction of the Quality Board. The Quality Board makes sure the latest quality require­ments are promptly integrated into the relevant management processes. Adjust­ments may be required, among other things, due to changes to the law, identified short­falls in quality, or changing expec­ta­tions among customers and/or non-govern­mental organ­i­sa­tions (NGOs). The Quality Board is composed of experts from different hierar­chies in Tchibo’s Hardware and Textiles depart­ments.

In 2014, we also intro­duced software for our worldwide quality management. During the course of its instalment, we set up a ‘quality wiki’, which has been in use since February 2015. It contains all the manuals and quality tools used across our company. The software and the wiki are important tools that we use to further enhance cooper­ation between the different sectors and actors in our quality management, around the world.

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