Florida Eis: Handmade in Berlin
Strawberry and chocolate? Or maybe Waldmeister flavor? The ice cream from the Berlin-based producer Florida Eis is particularly tasty and is made from the finest ingredients. The Spandau-based company has always breaking the mold since 1927. It is currently one of 25 partners in our industry campaign #Berlinproduziert.
Olaf Höhn has nothing good to say about boasting and a lot of hot air. In a sense, it belongs to the business in his industry. The 68 year-old is the owner of Florida Eis. And a trademark of all the products from the Spandau-based ice cream producer is its compact consistency. “We view ourselves as a quality producer. And in particular, this means that we do not add air into our ice cream mass," Olaf Höhn explains. It is very common in most industrially produced varieties of ice cream in large quantities and is used to facilitate processing and to increase the volume. "Then you’re talking about a cold sugar-air-foam mixture," says Höhn. Add to that artificial flavors and lots of binders. "It's easy to see, because the ice cream melts slower. The binders also extract the flavor from the ice cream mass – as with thick pudding."
Berlin is a great city. I am not saying this because I was born and raised here. Berlin offers entrepreneurs great opportunities uand a lot of freedom for progress.
Florida ice cream scoops are not lightweight nonsense
In order to be able to produce ice cream as free of air as possible, 14 ice cream machines are used on the approximately 800 square meter production area in the Staaken district of Spandau. The trained mechanical engineer Olaf Höhn has had them specially manufactured in Italy according to his own designs. By means of rod-like cooling screws, the ice cream mass is virtually unscrewed from the machines. Employees then manually mix fresh ingredients such as frozen pieces of cherries or mandarins, almonds, raisins, or chocolate chips handmade in the sauce kitchen. Then they portion the chilled mixture with an ice cream spoon directly into the 150 or 500 gram cups, in which the Florida ice cream is sold commercially. The cups pass under an X-ray machine and a metal detector - and are then "flash frozen" to minus 55 degrees Celsius. "The basic ice cream mass of Florida Eis products consists of milk, sugar, egg yolk, and butter. "Butter is an important qualitative building block in optimizing the structure of the ice cream matrix," explains Olaf Höhn. The ice melts softer and tastes more intense than when using vegetable fat.
Olaf Höhn launched the Florida Eis brand in 1984. He took over the storied Spandau café "Annelie," which was originally founded in 1927 and thus had around 20 ice cream recipes and two employees. One of them was Simone Gürgen. For Olaf Höhn, collaboration with the trained confectioner proved to be a stroke of luck. Today she is his business partner and responsible for the development of new varieties. "Simone Gürgen is a true gourmet and our cooperation is very symbiotic," says Höhn. The recipe repertoire of Florida Eis has grown to more than 80 varieties in his partner's development kitchen. About 40 of them are currently on sale. Are there also bestsellers? "Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry are still the classics", says Olaf Höhn and adds: "However, the mango is now contesting strawberry’s rank Even varieties such as cookies’n’cream or seasonal products such as Waldmeister or key lime pie are also quite popular."
Typically Berlin: Great innovative power
The new company Florida Eis, which Olaf Höhn named after the setting of his favorite TV series Miami Vice, grew rapidly. So fast that it soon outgrew its production facility. In 2012, Höhn therefore set up a new ice cream factory in the Staaken District in Spandau, which now produces around 1,500 tons of ice cream a year. The two Florida ice cream cafes and the factory employ a total of approximately 240 employees. And sales are also impressive. "In retail alone, we will exceed the 10 million euro mark this year."
The Berlin-based ice cream producer deliberately occupies a niche in the market. "We cannot be as experimental as the small factories in Prenzlauer Berg due to the requirements of retail. But among the industrial ice cream producers, our products are characterized by a high degree of quality," says Olaf Höhn, whose main customers include the supermarket chains REWE, EDEKA, SKY, Kaufland, and Real, as well as the catering industry. Another one of the company’s success factors is the great innovative power that is typical of Berlin. For example, Florida Eis is now produced 100 percent climate-friendly and CO2-neutral, making it Germany’s most environmentally friendly ice cream factory. “Berlin is just a great city. And I’m not only saying that because I was born and grew up here. On the contrary, Berlin offers you a great deal of freedom of development even as an entrepreneur," emphasizes Olaf Höhn.
Everything’s organic: from the roof the floor
The “organic system” of Florida Eis includes photovoltaic cells, a wind turbine, pellet heating, and the use of glass foam ballast as insulation under the entire building. The latter saves a lot of energy, especially in the area of the deep-freeze cell, as it does not require underfloor heating. Also interesting: The freezer vehicles that deliver Florida Eis don’t need any extra cooling for the heat-sensitive goods. Using the relatively old technique of "eutectics", storage elements in the vehicle are charged with cold overnight.
His son Björn introduced the idea of producing the ice cream on-site in an environmentally conscious manner to the company during his studies of hydrogeology. "The savings that we now achieve through the use of environmentally friendly technology are significant. I assume anywhere from 120,000 to 150,000 euros a year," said the 35-year-old, who is responsible for marketing at Florida Eis today.
Investment in the future: The clever freezer
Florida Eis is also breaking new ground when it comes to digitalization as well: With the development of a smart freezer, which reads RFID codes on the ice cream packaging using a scanner and precisely registers and reports which variety has just been removed from the location. This is especially useful for producers and retailers, because the smart freezers can be refilled in a jiffy. Increasing demand can also be reacted to quickly. If, for example, mango ice cream is particularly in demand in a certain supermarket, more of it will be replenished. Customers also benefit from the intelligent solution: Using an app at home, you can find out where your favorite Florida Eis variety is nearby.
The smart freezer is still in the testing phase, but it is expected to be used commercially by the end of 2018. Such developments are important to Olaf Höhn. "For us, it's not just about customer service, but also about energy efficiency. The introduction of the smart freezer will reduce our logistics costs by up to 28 percent. This corresponds to a saving of around 116 tons of CO2 per year. That doesn’t sound like boasting or a lot of hot air at all.
Pictures: © Florida Eis