As a result, the British company now expects to begin bidding for more significant catering-industry contracts than it could previously handle.
It has been no secret for some time that Metropolitan needed a new coffee brand. For several years the company distributed the significant Segafredo brand, but when that company established its own UK outlet by buying Brodies of Edinburgh, Metropolitan needed a replacement.
Its first move was to create Integrity, a Fairtrade coffee roasted in the UK, which has done well; its second move was to replace its ‘authentic' Italian option by offering Caffe Amada, which did not do so well.
Metropolitan's intention was to replace Amada with another authentic Italian coffee, Caffe Kimbo, but when that company looked more closely at its prospects in the UK, it decided to take the British trade sufficiently seriously to set up its own base here … and now it has bought its prospective distributor.
The result is that Metropolitan now hopes to become a more significant player in national contracts in the hospitality trade.
"Kimbo is not just an Italian coffee, it is a Neapolitan sensation," says McKenzie. "I've never encountered such commitment to quality from a roaster before. Their brand is adored in Italy and despite the scale on which it is produced, there is a rare knowledge, respect and love of coffee that you might expect more from a tiny artisan roaster than a giant company.
"You can now expect a lot of activity from Metropolitan - most importantly a big rise in training as we will be offering a twice monthly training school here in Acton which will be free to our customers. We'll be seeking to work with more distributors than before, and we'll also be able to compete more effectively for large coffee tenders, whereas previously we just weren't always in the right ball park. Now, we can do the deals - and with a high quality authentic Italian coffee."
Metropolitan will still be able to produce its successful Integrity brand - this will be adopted by Caffe Kimbo as the product to take it into emerging Fairtrade markets in Europe.
However, says McKenzie, one notable difference for Metropolitan is that while it will continue to supply espresso machines, it will now only do so as a support to its coffee offering.
"We will not now sell a machine only, or sell machines where our coffee is not involved," says Mckenzie. "Coffee now comes first, and machines are secondary. However, we will now also offer capsule machines for domestic use and low-volume espresso catering."
By Ian Boughton