A paradise for cheese lovers
If you like to try out different cheeses, the humidors in various Coop branches are perfect for you. Cheese lovers can choose from over 200 varieties in the ‘Chäs-Hüsli’ cheese huts. The sales team has unique cheese expertise.
Almost everyone’s mouth starts watering when they walk into the little "Chäs-Hüsli" cheese hut in the sprawling Coop branch in Villars-sur-Glâne near Fribourg. "At the moment, we have around 200 types of cheese here," says Claire André, the site manager.
Depending on the season, there are up to 270 varieties. Whether you’re looking for unusual French soft cheeses, the artisanal and innovative speciality cheeses from the Purcrü dairy of Emmi subsidiary Baumann Käse, or Kaltbach products, cheese lovers are sure to find something to tickle their taste buds.
There are ten such humidors in Coop stores, such as in Biberist, Geneva and here near Fribourg, all operated by Baumann Käse.
Like being in a cheese cellar
We have to pause time and again when trying to take photos, because customers keep flocking to the little wooden house and want to talk to the staff. You can hear water being sprayed from the top, because the climate has to be optimal for the cheese: 90 percent humidity at around 13°C.
"It’s like in a cheese cellar. It allows us to show customers something they’ll otherwise never see," says Matthias Leimbacher, regional manager of the humidors. The wheels of cheese are smeared with the typical salt solution once a week.
Friendly and skilled
The work of the four-person team in the humidor is varied. In the morning, an employee fetches the cheese, which is packaged in portions, from the cooler. All the wheels are stored in the humidor and must be cared for every day. "We cut out the bits that are no longer fresh, check the best-before dates and fill the display cases with packaged cheese portions," says Claire.
At the heart of their work is sales. "Alongside hygiene, that’s the most important thing," says Matthias. "We want the customers to come back, so we are kind and friendly." Of course, that alone is not enough, adds Claire. "It’s crucial that we give good advice, which is why we need to know the cheese and have a good understanding of the flavours."
“At the beginning, I had to try a lot of different cheeses. That’s the only way we can provide customers with the best possible advice.“
The key is trying the cheese
That’s why every new wheel of cheese that arrives in the store is pre-tasted by the team. "Every cheese tastes different. This is the only way we can provide customers with the best possible advice," says Claire.
When she took up her job here two years ago, she knew very little about cheese. "So I had to try a lot of different cheeses. If you don’t like cheese, you’ve come to the wrong place."
Do you take the smell of cheese home with you? Matthias laughs. "My wife doesn’t like cheese, but she’s never complained about unpleasant smells." The humidor teams, as Matthias ensures, are in regular contact with each other and conduct training courses together.
"This means we all know each other. The mood in the teams is good." Claire nods. "But we also want to do a good job. The best thing is when customers are satisfied. The advice, but also discussions and chit-chat – it’s all important, which is why we are open and communicative."