15 March 2024

Twenty years of Emmi Caffè Latte: an incredible success story

Cold coffee? Nobody drinks that! Twenty years ago, there were many who didn’t believe that such a product could succeed. They were wrong. Emmi Caffè Latte went off with a bang, is still a huge success today and has shaped the zeitgeist ever since.

Things hiss, rattle, rumble. Every now and then, a commotion can be heard in the noisy production hall of Ostermundigen. Thousands of Caffè Lattes are bottled here every day, the place that saw the birth of the cult drink. “Everyone felt that something special was happening here,” recalls Peter Burkhalter, who has been with us since the beginning 20 years ago.

There were people who thought it was all just bunch of a nonsense – what with the strange cup shape and the thing itself. “But we all believed in it from the beginning. Everyone who tasted the Caffè Latte noticed: now, here is something that didn’t exist before.”

pouring coffee in milk

Cold coffee becomes fashionable

Consumers also saw it this way. “Finally, something on the fridge shelf that I can’t get enough of” read the first fan email after the launch. In just the first year, several million cups were bought, with that figure multiplied many times over today. From the very beginning to the present day, Emmi Caffè Latte has been an unparalleled success.

But how was and how is that possible? First of all, a new coffee house culture with a hip barista scene emerged around the turn of the millennium – coffee became fashionable. But cold coffee was rather frowned upon. Nevertheless, a few resourceful, innovative minds at Emmi believed in the idea and even travelled to Japan to be inspired by the popularity of the cold drink there. 


Brought to life thanks to a tea room machine

However, our specialists were not entirely convinced by the cold coffees there, so they decided to rely on freshly roasted and brewed first-class coffee, where quality and enjoyment took centre stage. The process involved a lot of trying out, tinkering and excellent teamwork – the innovative spirit was truly palpable. A small tea room machine even played a starring role.

This was used to carry out all the experiments at the time and is still in use today when developing new varieties. For the developers at Emmi, one thing is clear: not only is the machine incredibly robust, it has also helped bring many popular ECL varieties to life – it is a legend.

“Guided by our pioneering Swiss spirit and innovative flair, we not only created a fantastic taste experience with Emmi Caffè Latte, but a new lifestyle too.“

Ricarda DemarmelsCEO Emmi Group

Something for Generation Z, too

Emmi Caffè Latte was launched in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Spain in March 2004, with other countries following later. Celebrities such as DJ Bobo, Roger Federer and Tom Lüthi were brand ambassadors, and were later joined by ski star Wendy Holdener. Four years ago, Emmi Caffè Latte launched its first vegan product, and last year, the “Fun Latte” was born, inspiring Generation Z with its chic varieties.

“What makes Emmi Caffè Latte so cool is that it’s good coffee and it gives me the kick I need before working out,” says 19-year-old Liam Simion from Ebikon. The 45-year-old Lucerne native Yasmin Atilgan describes herself as one of the first consumers, and more than that: “I would call myself a super-user.”

“For us, Caffè Latte is a kind of elixir of life. It is an honour for us to be part of this story.“

Peter BurkhalterTeam Leader Personnel Planning & Development, Emmi Ostermundigen

Emmi’s innovative strength

Twenty years and not at all tired: all this time, the popularity of Emmi Caffè Latte has grown steadily, and there is no end in sight – rather, Emmi has practically “reinvented milk” and established a drink that just seems to go with everything.

With its long-standing tradition and Swiss roots, over the years, the milk processor has created and developed a product that is highly popular in many countries and across all age groups thanks to its innovative strength and clear strategic focus.

The creative minds at Emmi who have invested their passion and dedication from the very start, and sometimes even faced the challenge of making the impossible possible to meet rising production demand for Caffè Latte, are proud of the history of the ECL, as Peter Burkhalter points out: “For us, Caffè Latte is a kind of elixir of life. It is an honour for us to be part of this story.”

More information

Emmi Caffè Latte Website
Media release Emmi celebrates 20 years Emmi Caffè Latte

15 March 2024