Chicory was Wilhelm Schauman’s first enterprise and the root of significant industrial activity which gradually asserted itself within the various branches of the Schauman business.
Today the Pietarsaari Mills, belonging to one of the world’s largest forest industry concerns, UPM-Kymmene Oyj, produce sawn goods, pulp and kraftpaper belonging to one of the world’s largest forest industry concerns.
To celebrate the centenary of Oy Wilh. Schauman Ab in 1983, the company board of directors decided to convert the old chicory factory into a museum. After much work by many former employees, the museum was officially opened in the summer of 1985.
The chicory museum reminds us of how it all began.
A process of roasting, grinding and hardening by steam of the dried chicory root, found mainly in central Europe, produces a caffeine-free additive. It was used predominantly as an additive in the preparation of coffee to enhance the appearance and taste of the drink. The most important reason for the use of chicory was that it was far less expensive than coffee. During the First World War it proved a vital ingredient in coffee substitute which was made, for instance, from rye, corn and peas.
Chicory or Cichorium intybus, a wild, perennial herb, can be found as far north as central Sweden.
Wilhelm Schauman was born in Pietarsaari on 8th November 1857. After graduating in mechanical engineering at the early age of 22, he went on to gain work experience at various establishments including a metal factory in St. Petersburg. In 1883, having failed to secure a job promised to him as a technical director at the Serlachius Mänttä Mills, he returned to Pietarsaari, where he would soon establish a chicory business. This would prove to be the foundation of his professional life as a successful entrepreneur.
Until the mid-1890s Wilhelm Schauman was first and foremost a chicory producer.
Thereafter he gradually built up other businesses, e.g. export of timber goods, towboat operations, the production of sawn goods and sugar.
Moreover he was actively involved in other businesses in Pietarsaari: for instance, he managed the Strengberg tobacco industry, the largest producer of cigarettes in the Nordic area, and found time for numerous municipal responsibilities.
As a result in 1907 he was granted the rare title at that time of honorary mining counsellor “as a mark of his services to the public and success as an entrepreneur”.
Wilhelm Schauman died suddenly during a business trip to Berlin on 14th November 1911 at the early age of 54. He was then worth over 2 million in gold.
The First Chicory Site
A series of visits to chicory factories in Germany and Russia inspired the young Wilhelm Schauman to start up such a business in his home town.
Having received permission from the mayor on 10th September 1883, Schauman began production with just 6-7 people in the Thodén bakery in the centre of town.
Two months later chicory came onto the market and was met with instant success.
The Second Site
The production of chicory proved to be very profitable. As a result Wilhelm Schauman decided to expand his business.
In February 1884 he applied for a lease of half a hectare of land to build a factory by the road to Alholmen, just north of Korsgrundsviken.
The timber-built factory and neighbouring warehouse were ready to begin operation that autumn.
Production began strongly and within just a few years Schauman was the biggest producer of chicory in Finland.
The Third Site
Unfortunately, the Schauman business suffered a serious setback: on the night of 3rd September 1892 a devastating fire destroyed the factory building.
However, Schauman was undeterred and quickly drew up plans to build a new factory.
It took just four days for the town council to agree to let an area of about 12,000 m2 situated between the harbour and warehouse railway lines at Alholmen.
At the end of September, 28 bricklayers from Tampere began constructing the walls of the new factory and the warehouses which survived the fire was brought to Alholmen. The new factory was in full operation by the end of January 1893.
Alholmen’s proximity to the sea proved very advantageous, a prerequisite for business activities.
Raw materials were imported by sea in small cargo vessels.
For a long time the maritime route to agents and customers was preferred to the rail alternative which had connected Pietarsaari since 1887.
The year 1903 was the most successful regarding employment and production at the chicory factory: the workforce numbered 60 employees producing almost 1400 tons of roasted and ground chicory.
There was a temporary boom period during the Second World War due to the importance of chicory as an additive to the coffee substitute.
However, the factory was rarely in use all year round.
From Harbour To Oven
The first consignment of raw material imported by Schauman was from Germany. Thereafter Belgium became the most important supplier of chicory root followed by the Netherlands, Imperial Russia, Estonia and Poland.
Although in subsequent years farming clubs would begin cultivating chicory, most was still imported from abroad.
The raw chicory arrived at the harbour in loose form. The roots were shovelled into sacks and transported by rail to the warehouse before being taken by truck to the roasting room. The trucks were conveyed up a ramp before releasing the chicory into the ovens.
Two of the factory’s three ovens can still be seen.
Along with its three ovens, the factory used twelve burners divided in two rows of six, one above the other. The upper burners carried out 50% of the roasting while the lower burners completed the process. The burners rotated continually to ensure that the chicory was properly roasted.
The normal daily quota of six batches, i.e. 7560 kg of chicory, required ten hours of roasting.
Grinding and filling
After roasting the chicory roots were emptied onto trolleys to cool for about one hour before being taken by lift up to a container on the upper floor. The cubes were then conveyed to the mills to be ground and sifted. The chicory went via the upper floor down to four filling machines below where it was pressed into paper cones by means of a spiral device and sealed by hand. This process involved nine women who could manage up to 12000 cones a day.
In-house Coning Machine
Even the paper cylinders were produced in the factory from ready printed sheets of paper. These sheets were punched with flaps on one side and mechanically glued together to form cylinders which were placed in large baskets and carried down to the filling room.
Two Days of Steaming
The packed cones weighing 1 pound (about 425 grams) or ½ pound were shaken, placed into boxes and then transported to one of four steaming rooms whose combined storage space could accommodate up to 30,000 kg of chicory. The steaming process carried out at approximately 60OC not only gave the chicory the right colour and consistency, it also hardened the contents. The chicory initially produced by Schauman was described as somewhere between the more solid and tightly packed Russian variety and the “sweeter, finer, stickier” German variety.
In-house Box Production
The final stage of the process involved packing the cones into boxes. These were also produced internally, and nailed together with small pieces of boxboard, from Schauman’s own sawmill. For box production the factory used its own cutter and mechanical nailer which could knock in eight nails at once. 120 such boxes were needed each day. In later years these would be replaced by cardboard boxes.
The secret of Schauman’s success was a combination of high quality products at competitive prices and a good eye for marketing. Very early in his career, Wilhelm Schauman had already acquired his own agents in such cities as Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and Viipuri.
He would often travel widely around Finland, inviting shopkeepers to sample his chicory in urban and rural areas alike.
Wilhelm Schauman was quick to realise that smart packaging sold the product. As early as 1885 Schauman went in for a more lavish design of Russian type print consisting of medallions and other embellishments.
The factory advertised chicory for many years in the annual almanac, in those days diligently read in every home. Chicory was even advertised in cartoon strips in the local newspapers.
As early as 1885 Wilhelm Schauman was experimenting with a substitute for coffee, produced from rye and acorns, however without any success. A more reliable special product was the more luxurious chicory variety, known as Kaffino, and sold packed in boxes. After a temporary interruption, production resumed at the beginning of the 1930s
Kaffino was produced from more coarsely ground chicory in a special mixer. Parafin was added to give gloss to the grounds and also prevent them from sticking together: 1 decilitre per 20-30kg of chicory.
The packing in boxes was done manually since Kaffino was always produced in small quantities. The advantage of using the coarser Kaffino chicory was that it never left grounds in the coffee-pot.
Wilhelm Schauman had already decided that after his death a private company should be made from his enterprises and timber industry. Along with steps taken in 1937 to dissolve the main company, a specific body was created, Oy Wilh. Schaumans Cikoria Ab, which would take over the chicory factory in 1938. Wilhelm Schauman’s son-in-law acted as chairman of the board and managing director until 1953. He was succeeded by the founder’s grandson and namesake, Wilhelm Schauman, a graduate in economics.
During the years from 1912 to 1937 the chicory business recorded an annual profit before depreciation and interest. However, the scope of this enterprise was so small within the Schauman company as a whole that these results were virtually insignificant. The Second World War provided the factory with a new lease of life due to a strong demand for coffee subtitutes.
The chicory company secured a lucrative contract with the country’s coffee roasters which entitled the former to roast and grind 15% of all chicory root and lump sugars available in Finland. The chicory factory refined the product, 570 tonnes in its peak year 1945, and delivered it to surrogate factories unable to carry out these operations themselves.
In 1947 production of chicory resumed under the chicory factory’s own direction but in only one year, i.e. 1950, did output exceed 200 tonnes, compared with an annual figure of 400-600 tonnes recorded regularly, even at the end of the 1930s.
By the 1950s it was clear that the chicory era had ended. The question now was to find a use for the factory building. In the mid-1950s an attempt was made to produce salted peanuts.
To this end the oven for roasting coffee, still standing in the roasting room, was purchased. However, production was not profitable and lasted only a few years.
Other business activities were started and met the same fate: the production of panels made of wood shavings known as “vilsa plattor” in the end proved unprofitable, disappearing from the scene in 1967.
The factory operated for the last time as a manufacturer of wood shavings for fur farming. By 1980 this too was discontinued as a result of the rising price of wood and competition from other materials.
The last round of chicory production took place at the Alholmen factory between 11th January and 18th February 1960. However, not until September 1964 did the last ever consignment (weighing 3752kg) leave the factory. All other chicory producers in Finland had already discontinued their operations by the beginning of 1957.
Today only the older generations can relate to the use of chicory in coffee-making. Nevertheless the chicory factory will always be an important part of the history of Pietarsaari, not least the Pietarsaari Mills. The chicory factory is the foundation laid down by Wilhelm Schauman of the prosperous Schauman concern, whose industrial units today form part of the multinational enterprise UPM-Kymmene.