At an Italian a restaurant and bakery in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of central Brooklyn, canned and bottled olive oils are being nixed for an on-tap experience.
Saraghina provides shop-goers with a green-tinted glass bottle that they then fill and refill themselves with Italian olive oil. By foregoing single-use canisters, Saraghina’s olive oil is not only sustainable and environmentally friendly, but promotes a local loyalty around the oil and where Brooklynites get it.
It's nice to have someplace local to fill up on olive oil and not have to dump empty bottles every other week.
“We get our olive oils in five-liter tins that we use to fill the fusti that our customers can then use to fill up their own bottles,” Anne Hoberg, manager of Saraghina’s bakery since its opening in early 2014, said.
What initially drove Hoberg to opt for on-tap olive oils was not necessarily reducing Saraghina’s ecological footprint, but to offer premium olive oils at a reduced price point, about $18 for 750 milliliters.
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“It’s so much easier for the producer to package their olive oils in a tin than in individually packaged bottles,” Hoberg said. “It can lower the price of each olive oil by over 50 percent.”
Sitting in these stainless steel fusti, atop a two-tiered trolley with tinted glass bottles and refillable tins underneath, Saraghina offers two olive oils: one from Puglia and the other from Pianogrillo. The Puglia oil is sourced from the Brooklyn-based importer Marovato and the Pianogrillo is sourced from the Bronx-based importer Gustiamo.
“Both of our olive oils come from importers that we know very well,” Hoberg, who worked at Gustiamo before joining Saraghina’s staff, said. “Both source their products from small, family-owned farms that you cannot find elsewhere in the United States.”
When handling their olive oils, Hoberg said that the goal is not to impact the taste.
“We keep all of our olive oil tins in the back of our store where sunlight is limited,” she said. “We use stainless steel drums. We source dark, tinted-green bottles so there’s no sunlight affecting the oil once it’s been poured.”
In a city that was recently found to have more litter that any other in the U.S., Saraghina’s refillable olive oils have seemingly satisfied both the tastebuds and consciences of their shoppers.
“Their oils always taste so fresh,” Jordi Ng, a customer and Bedford-Stuyvesant resident, said. “It’s nice to have someplace local to fill up on olive oil and not have to dump empty bottles every other week.”
Maybe Saraghina’s efforts are signs of a trend toward a refillable life, but for now, it just makes sense for Hoberg
“I mean, anything that helps you re-use packaging while still having a high-quality product is great,” she said.