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.
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.