The best spices from all over the world in Willich

The spices get by fine without preservatives, flavours and monosodium glutamate. In addition, the Willich spice manufacturer Spirit of Spice goes even further than ensuring high quality standards and the purity of its products. The company's original idea was to sell its own creations of unground mixed spices. They are supplied in small spice mills so that the spices are freshly ground in the user's kitchen. This way the spice aroma stays fresh for a long time and doesn't dissipate after just a few weeks. With this concept, "Spirit of Spice" is on the right track. The company's success proves that the two founders Ute Bornholdt and Edgar Wolter got it just right. They now offer 23 mixed spice varieties, and over 100 ready-to-use individual spices. "Spirit of Spice" gets its raw materials from wholesalers from all over the world, from Thüringia to the Caribbean, from India and Africa to South America. Tahitian sugar lines the shelves of the large production hall alongside tonka beans, pyramid sea salt and grains of paradise. Ten parcels of "divine temptation" are waiting to be delivered. Just a meter further the "Diabolo sugar" is ready to go.

It's not just the products that stand out, but also the company headquarters; a futuristic building, a passive house made of wood with a curved aluminium shell, adorns the edge of the Stahlwerk Becker business park in Willich. This aluminium skin from Kalzip was the first facade of this type in Germany. Thomas Blohm-Schröder von Dewey and Blohm-Schröder architects created the production site, which was a particularly appealing task for the architect, who was friends with the builder, since his office works mostly in the field of residential buildings and preservation of historical monuments. Ute Bornholdt and Edgar Wolter moved into the modern building with their team in August 2010. The couple moved to "the countryside" in Willich from Düsseldorf years ago. When Ute Bornholdt, a pharmaceutical-technical assistant, set herself up as self-employed with the spices seven years ago, the first deliveries were piled up on Euro pallets in her living room in the old station, where she used to live. Although she quickly moved with the young business into a barn in the Holterhöfe, it also soon proved to be too small – and too cold in winter. In the meantime Edgar Wolter had also left his job of 17 years as IT manager at Hewlett Packard to help his wife. Ute Bornholdt sees her responsibility for the environment not just in the foodstuffs she makes, but also in the production conditions. With solar cells on the roof and geothermal heat, the house generates 50 to 60 percent more energy than it consumes. The philosophy of "Spirit of Spice" also includes working together with Slow Food, an international movement that promotes more awareness of sustainability in the way we use food and agriculture.

So far the "Spirit of Spice" from Willich has been reaching around 400 customers in the whole of Germany, as well as Austria and Switzerland. "Spirit of Spice" is available from selected delicatessens that deal in premium foods. You won't find these mixed spice varieties in your local supermarket because the products require intense customer consultation and are sold on the basis of their quality, not the price. Of course, anyone can order the products online too; so far the Internet side of the business has accounted for just ten to 15 percent of sales. The response from specialist retailers has been very good because more and more discerning consumers are paying close attention to what they are actually eating. In the production process, great emphasis is placed on the quality of the raw materials in accordance with the Slow Food motto: good – excellent taste, clean – without harmful substances e.g. organic certified, fair – the farmers must also be able to live and sustain their businesses from their work, only then can one demand the best quality.

The numerous cooking programmes on television have also created new demand for unusual spices or special mixes. When tonka beans were discussed on "Lanz kocht" on Fridays on ZDF, they were sold out in Willich the following Wednesday. The aphrodisiac effect is considered a secret tip for dessert. These beans were banned in Germany until 1991 because too much of the coumarin contained in them was considered harmful. The slightly bitter tasting beans from Venezuela or Nigeria are therefore difficult to get hold of in Germany. In Willich they are on the menu.

The idea for "Spirit of Spice" evolved over many years. Ute Bornholdt, now 47 years old, just like her husband, worked in sales of medicinal products for 15 years. At home she liked to cook and tried out many ideas with herbs and spices. When she was on holiday she was constantly searching for unknown spices. "Since I am a passionate cook and a bon vivant, and since it is very, very difficult to find unusual spice mixes, I set myself the goal of changing this." As an entrepreneur she learned what being self-employed means: namely, being present at all times. It is barely possible for her to travel to the producer countries these days. Besides, she also has a slight fear of flying. The research into where to find the spices she needed with the best possible quality took several months at the beginning. Some importers only wanted to supply the spices in large containers, not by the bag. Ute Bornholdt finds inspiration at trade fairs and in cook books, which she reads "like novels". But our grandmothers used to cook differently to the way we do now. All they needed 100 years ago was salt, pepper, nutmeg and juniper berry. At "Spirit of Spice" they don't think much of virgins harvesting herbs with a silver sickle in the full moon either. Spices are neither remedies nor intoxicants. The company is interested only in smell and taste, not esoteric senses. What began as a non-occupational experiment turned into the adventure of owning your own business in January 2006. A neighbour who worked in advertising designed the Indian-style lettering and the label, which allows consumers to see as much as possible of the contents of the jar. Today the team of ten at "Spirit of Spice" delivers 10 tons of spices a year to customers. Since every citizen in Germany consumes a kilogram of spices a year, there is still a great deal of room for growth.


Spirit of Spice
Gewürze & Feinkost Manufaktur
Ute Bornholdt/Edgar Wolter
Drahtzieherweg 3
47877 Willich

Tel.: 02154 886286
Fax: 02154 886285