AN INSPIRING HISTORY
Caffe Cordina is a well-known, established family business with a long history. Located in the centre of the capital city, Valletta, it is within easy reach of many historical sites, such as St. John’s Cathedral, the Grand Master’s Palace and several other buildings which date back to the time of the Order of the Knights of St. John.
Anyone who walks into Caffe Cordina immediately falls in love with the place and its décor. And if one were to spend some time there, they would quickly realise that there is so much more beyond the priceless paintings on the walls and ceilings, beyond the beautiful décor and mouth-watering food.
But few people realise that behind the historic cafeteria in Valletta right across from Pjazza Regina, is a family business which is constantly evolving but always strictly adhering to its time-honoured ethos built around quality.
One of Caffe Cordina’s most successful ventures is its product line, comprised of traditional Maltese favourites as well as some of the Cafe’s own most successful delicacies. The retail product line was launched in the late 1990s, solely with the very popular nougat and honey rings.
That product line has today grown to include more than 70 packaged and branded products that include the best-selling produce at Malta International Airport.
And as in any other venture taken up by Caffe Cordina, its product line too is constantly evolving, with new products introduced regularly. The success of Caffe Cordina products at the MIA departures lounge has resulted in the company opening a similar dedicated sales point in the departures lounge of the Valletta Cruise Terminal. The product line has proven popular with cruise liner passengers, who appreciate the quality, as well as the diversity of the line.
Another service Caffe Cordina has become renowned for over the years is its outside catering service. Having an event catered by Caffe Cordina carries an underlying promise of quality.
Behind the changes and evolution that the business is undergoing is a dynamic management team. John Cordina is the current owner of the business. A sixth generation Cordina, he remains today chairman of the company but in 2011 he decided to appoint a CEO. Cilio Bugeja, who had been the company’s financial controller for four years, became CEO in 2011.
That quality service is down to the staff, and Bugeja says that all Caffe Cordina employees understand that they are the brand’s ambassadors. “In every challenge I see opportunity, and our brand is strong and remains attractive,” he says. “Today we have a multi-national staff complement that includes more than 30 foreigners out of over 150 employees.”
Bugeja continued to expand the company’s product line and point of sale venues, as well as expanding the cafeteria’s presence on Pjazza Regina. “When I became CEO, I quickly came to appreciate how John Cordina, and his father before him, were not only intent on building a legacy for the family but also one for the whole country,” Bugeja says.
He says that every day he is amazed at how many foreigners say they knew of Caffe Cordina before even stepping on the island. The Caffe Cordina presence on Pjazza Regina recently underwent a major overhaul. “Our vision was to have a state-of-the-art open air catering area in the square,” Bugeja explains.
“That included upgrading all the furniture and décor, making the space more amenable and comfortable.” But it was much more than that. In what is probably a first for Malta, Caffe Cordina took upon itself – and at no small cost – the complete regeneration of Pjazza Regina, making it entirely cable- and clutter-free.
The project found the official backing of all entities involved and was completed on schedule and to plan. Caffe Cordina now organises weekly music events in the square, featuring top-tier local talent. “Every day, we do not merely sell products, but we promote our brand, the brand that is Caffe Cordina, but also brand Malta, as more and more tourists chose to take some of our products – as well as their favourable experience of our services – back home with them,” Bugeja says.
“Exporting our brand, directly or indirectly, is a crucial element of our business ethos. We continue wanting to make Malta proud, because we are as much about Malta as we are Caffe Cordina.”