“A new way to taste bread”. The invitation appears on the paper box that wraps and protects each bag of biscuits – the Diplomata Biscuit wants to reach the end user as intact as possible – and the evidence does not disappoint. Sweet or savory, simple or layered (puff pastry), these biscuits are indeed an excellent alternative to cheese, pies and jams. Or nothing. Handcrafted in a small unit in Ílhavo, the diplomats are constantly expanding the family. From the most traditional crackers, the Ondina, to the Sete Folhas and the Capinhas de Chocolate, there are already eight varieties on the market. And there are plans to expand the family.
To learn the history of these biscuits, one has to travel to the Brazilian city of Recife, where Cláudia Coelho’s 49-year-old family has owned a bakery for many years. Cláudia was born there and grew up there until she was 14 when she came to Fermelã in Estarreja, but always kept up the connection and trips to Recife. From the family bakeries called Diplomat, he always brought a few parcels with the biscuits that marked his childhood. “Our afternoon snack and sometimes the puff biscuits in the morning as well. They were paired with chocolate, cheese and served with milkshakes, ”he recalls.
To this desire to produce biscuits similar to those of her childhood, Cláudia Coelho added a desire to pay tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit of her late father, Antonino Coelho, by embarking on the Diplomata Biscuit adventure. For some time she still managed to balance the career of director of a Zara store with running her own business, but about two years ago when she started being alone in the business – by then she had a partner -. She only had to devote herself to your cookies. “For 25 years in Zara, I learned a lot about teams and management in general,” emphasizes the businesswoman, who gave up her architecture studies to pursue a career in the Inditex group.
On the orders of Diplomata Biscuit, Cláudia Coelho does not give up closely following the production process. And whenever it is needed, it literally puts its hands on the dough. “I can’t sell the product if I don’t know it well and I’m sure it’s perfect,” he says. In the first phase, the businesswoman had the help of a “master baker” from the bakeries in Recife. “He helped us with the first product and we changed it to suit the Portuguese,” he says. According to him, it was necessary to significantly reduce the amount and quality of margarine. “Brazil uses more margarine that is of animal origin. We replaced the vegetables and cut a lot, ”he says.
From Ondinas to Capinhas, past bagels
They started with five types of crackers and have adapted and improved the range according to market reactions. “There was one variety that we removed because it was very fragile, broke a lot and wasn’t in great demand,” he says. They also created new products, the last of which is already a hit with fans of these artisanal biscuits: Capinhas Chocolate (laminated chocolate dough with chocolate filling). The brand’s bestsellers also include Ondina Alho and Orégão (with olive oil) and Ondina Sésamo. “The garlic and oregano breads look like garlic bread, but they are thin and crispy. The second are characterized by a very strong presence of sesame, ”says Cláudia Coelho.
And if it is true that the Portuguese’s adherence to the Ondina line (thin, single-layer biscuits) was to be expected, the same cannot be said for the Capinhas and Sete Folhas areas. “The Portuguese didn’t know about the puff biscuits, but when they discovered them they completely stuck,” notes the businesswoman, who believes that part of the success of her biscuits is based on the quality of the ingredients – they have to be the most natural and simple as possible . “We use sea salt from Aveiro, special flours, cane sugar granules and nothing with lactose apart from the chocolate wafers,” he emphasizes.
Diplomata Biscuit is currently present in several gourmet or delicatessen shops and in El Corte Inglès supermarkets. However, the brand does not rule out the possibility of opening its own store next to the production unit. The introduction of a new line of cookies is also in preparation. “I have already developed the recipes, but due to this new restriction we will postpone the start,” reveals Cláudia Coelho.
Also promised is the relaunch of the brand’s bagels, which were presented to consumers at the time when the diplomat had a point of sale in a mall in the city of Aveiro. “It was an enormous success that we would like to restore when we have our own business,” announces the person in charge of Diplomata Biscuit.