Franck is an iconic Croatian brand and producer of beverages and food products known mostly for its coffee and tea. The Croatian factory in Zagreb, Vodovodna Street, which is still in operation today, was founded in 1892 by German entrepreneur Johann Heinrich Franck.
The history of Franck coffee
At the time, the culture of coffee and the benefits of this ‘pick-me-up’ drink started to form even around working people, but since coffee had to be imported, the cost of the original beverage was quite expensive.
That’s why people started to use chicory, a plant of a similar taste. The first chicory manufacturer in Germany was founded in 1770, and the first manufacturer in Croatia was founded in Varaždin, the then capital of Croatia, at the beginning of the 19th century.
Johann Heinrich Franck opened the first small chicory factory in Germany in 1822 and later expanded with factories in Italy, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Romania.
Zagreb was an ideal place to start expanding to these territories. The factory in Vodovodna Street began with 200 local employees. The government was content with how the factory was working, especially with the encouragement of planting chicory in the Bjelovar area. That’s why they decided to allow Franck to apply a Croatian coat of arms on the products made in Zagreb.
2019 Zagreb A tour of the Franck factory with reporters Photo: Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL
After the First World War, the People’s Council at the head of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs had a negative attitude towards factory owners who were foreign citizens, especially towards Germans and the Austrians, and announced nationalisation. On the other hand, the strength of workers and workers’ alliances grew, and in turn the state-appointed Franck a manager.
In 1945, at the end of the Second World War , the factory was nationalised by the then communist government and started producing coffee substitutes under the name Franck.
Although Franck was first associated with coffee in Croatia, coffee production at Franck did not begin until 1960. In the 50s, the company expanded production to soups and other household products.
The 1960s brought several new product lines, like powders for puddings, food supplements and sugar. Near the end of that decade, in 1968, Franck introduced its first teas in filter bags.
In the 1970s, soup production was terminated, and the company made a turn to the production of peanuts and other snacks. The most popular were Kroki Kroket, expanded puffs made from corn and peanuts and Čipi Čips, potato chips.
At the same time, Franck introduced two brands of coffee – Jubilarna, Minas and Prima and launched the first espresso variant. Franck launched the first vacuum-packed coffee in 1982. At the beginning of the 1990s, the first fruit flavoured teas were introduced.
In 1992, exactly 100 years after the founding, the company once again became privately held. The workers privatised the company and, over time, the main shareholder became Milan Artuković, who, prior to becoming the owner, worked in Franck as a commercial director in the 1970s and then CEO. Today, the company is led by three generations of the same family.
The company now employs more than 600 people. Besides Croatia, it has a strong production and distribution network in all ex-Yugoslavia countries and Albania, with revenue exceeding half a billion kuna a year.
Over the last 30 years, some changes have been made. For instance, in 2015, Franck made a joint venture partnership with German Intersnack, a leading snack manufacturer in Europe, and snacks became a part of the new Adria Snack Company. In 2018, the companies parted ways, and Franck discontinued snack production.
The company now focuses on beverages, especially coffee and tea and has four main lines of products. Besides tea and coffee, Franck still produces the cereal beverages that started their whole story, as well as a line of side dishes and spices.
Franck coffee is a go-to product for every coffee lover in Croatia. The most popular is a plain old ‘ciglica’ (English: ‘a small brick’), a name for vacuum-sealed 250g Jubilarna. ‘Ciglica’ is the small act of kindness that Croats bring with them when they visit friends, family, and any other occasion. With ‘ciglica’ as a gift, one can’t go wrong.
Today, the range of coffees is much wider, and one can choose the product for their own taste. If you’re in a hurry, you will probably make instant Coffee&GO. Or, if you are looking for something more special, you can try one of Franck’s specialty coffees. And, if you love the flavour of this beverage but can’t tolerate caffeine, there’s always the decaffeinated option.
Franck currently offers five tea ranges. Regular plant-based teas like chamomile, mint, sage, fennel or rosehip; classical green or black tea; and a variety of fruit teas. Additionally, Franck offers functional teas, enriched with vitamins and minerals. For a more sophisticated experience, one can enjoy the Superiore Tea line.
Chicory remained an important part of Franck’s product portfolio from the beginning. Today, it falls under the cereal beverages category, along with barley and rye. The older Croats used to enjoy these beverages in the morning, and Bianka and Divka can still be found in many older households to this day.
If you are planning to visit Zagreb and wish to have a real Franck coffee experience, you can get one at Johann Franck café, bistro and lounge bar at the Jelačić Square. There, you can taste a variety of different coffees made by experienced baristas in a cozy atmosphere that is reminiscent of old times.