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Cover Image:©Aris Kamarotos for Archetypon EVOO
An architect among the olive trees. It could be the title of a film comedy, instead it is the true story of Elina Poulou, a successful Greek architect and owner of Archetypon olive oil. Poulou, in the midst of the pandemic, decides to converge her experience and talent in the family olive groves to create an EVOO that tells the story of an ancient and noble land like Greece.
Today, Archetypon is an award-winning EVOO, with a high nutritional value and a family history to be discovered.
Elina, what prompted you to become an oil entrepreneur and also to open a shop?
During the pandemic many people found time to rethink about basics and to reorganize their priorities. I was one of them.
I was lucky enough to be raised in the beautiful city of Kalamata, in a family with very strong bonds within its members, the third child of a civil engineer and an architect. Being from Kalamata makes you an olive oil producer by default whether you are a farmer in profession or not.
As long as I can remember my childhood, we were always spending long periods in our family olive groves, pampering the trees, harvesting the fruits, producing the olive oil of the year, as my father and grandparents did before us.
The pandemic found me working and living in Athens, married with a very talented person, painter Leon Michail, and being parents of a wonderful five-year old boy then. Given the opportunity to work from a distance, I managed to spend more time in the countryside and became involved again in the harvest and the olive oil production, something that intrigued Leon and our little one Hector.
Up to that moment, we were selling in bulk all spare quantities back to the mill, which is the common practice for the majority of producers – earning more or less our expenses for cultivation and harvesting. We were ok with that, as long as we had our own olive oil and no need for more earnings as our main occupation was not that of a farmer.
But what happens with small farmers? How do they manage to survive when the cost of their effort is much more than their earnings? Too many of them decide not to harvest any more or even to sell their land to big investors, and lately foreign ones. Guided by a profound social interest, apparent in my previous postgraduate studies in sociology and urban planning, and supported by all family, I took the decision to involve professionally in order to promote small producers, in a fair trade basis, deeply believing that the preservation of traditional olive groves has a huge social, cultural and economical impact to the rural Greek society.
The biodiversity of the Greek countryside is unique and we always had the privilege to produce goods in small batches of exceptional quality as the land is divided into small plots. That happens mainly because of the predominant small private ownership in Greece resulting in more personal care in each cultivation.
Greece is the third country in the world in olive oil production, but ranks the first position in that of Extra virgin. High quality goods mean higher nutritional value goods, which is a demand for a large part of the population oriented in a more balanced, healthier diet, such as the Mediterranean one. Considering traditional olive groves as an asset we have to preserve versus intensive cultivation implemented by other countries focusing on quantity rather than on quality, I decided to invest all spare capital I had in time and money in founding Olive Groves Archetypon, a company dedicated to the promotion of premium olive oil produced by Greek traditional olive groves. Keen with scientific knowledge, I spent almost two years in reading and participating in seminars, in order to be better informed on best practices, formal procedures, laws, trade and marketing tools that would help a small producer like us make their own brand and promote it worldwide, give added value to the product, gain a better income and therefore have a reason to keep on with this huge effort. Moreover, there was a need in educating consumers in high quality olive oil and having an ambassador somewhere central to promote it through events and olive oil tasting. For that reason, the company’s office was sheltered in a former abandoned studio in the centre of Athens, that we renovated and transformed into Archetypon’s olive oil boutique shop, welcoming locals and tourists to the magnificent EVOO world.
Could you tell a little more about the packaging= I find it beautiful, contemporary, elegant but also more comfortable than the bottle.
Leon did the wonderful pictorial representation of the traditional harvest on the package, getting inspiration from ancient cave paintings and emphasizing this way the olive oil’s archetypical role in Mediterranean culture. As for the logo, we worked together with Bob Studio, a design studio based in Athens. The minimalist graphic design is meant to emphasize the thrifty yet luxurious character of the premium product. We packaged our limited production in numbered 500ml tins, ensuring maximum protection from external conditions but also redefining the typical large 17lt tin we use for bulk olive oil: the olive oil stored now in it gains the value it deserves, it has a creator, a brand name and is numbered, just like the limited number of copies of a work of art.
How did you choose Archetypon as your brand name?
Archetypon was chosen as the brand name as olive oil has an archetypical role in Mediterranean culture. In psychology, an archetype is a deeply engraved memory of mankind’s collective experience. For Greek people such is the family, the preparation of the food, the family table, the hospitality, all connected with the sacred tree of the olive fruit and the olive oil, what we consider as the quintessence of Greek gastronomy.
In which area of Greece are your olive groves located?
In southern Greece, Messinia. Region land of olive groves par excellence that extend throughout the province to the sea, the only natural limit that seems to be able to contain its spread.
To be exact, Filiatra is our land. It is one of the most productive areas of premium extra virgin olive oil in Greece, with a very long tradition in olive tree cultivation and olive oil production. This is why it falls within the production areas of the famous Kalamata PDO olive oil.
Archetypon was born here, enclosing the memories of our people’s collective experience. These memories are deeply engraved, with ancient roots and sequence over time. The family, the olive harvest, the preparation of the food, the family table, the hospitality. Depositions of memory that make up the palimpsest of Greek gastronomy.
What are the characteristics of your awarded EVOO?
Archetypon is a limited production high phenolic olive oil, sourced from the family’s olive groves, certified as Kalamata PDO.
Our oil obtained the EVOO of the year 2022 distinction in the world ranking of EVOOs (EVOOWR 2022) as it was awarded gold medals for its exceptional quality in international olive oil competitions:
- ATHENA IOOC 2022 (Gold medal);
- BERLIN GOOA 2022 (Gold Award in High Polyphenols);
- Terraolivo IOOC 2022 (Prestige Gold Award);
- Olivinus IEVOOC 2022 (Gran Prestigio Oro).
With which variety of olive trees do you produce your oil?
On our centuries-old family estate we grow olive trees of the Koroneiki variety. Our cultivation is organic and the harvest is anticipated. The resulting extra virgin olive oil is balanced, with very low acidity, excellent organoleptic characteristics and a high percentage of phenols for which it holds a health claim. It is therefore a healthy product that aims at the same time to satisfy the most demanding palates. An oil characterized by a bright green colour and a fresh fruity aroma, with notes of cut grass, floral and fresh herbs, together with a moderately balanced spicy and bitter taste.
In 2022, you accepted another challenge that testifies to your absolute dedication to the olive world.
Yes, in 2022, we opened our Boutique Shop in Athens. An opportunity not only for Greek consumers but for those visiting foreigners who want to discover the wonders of our EVOO.
For those who cannot reach us in our Boutique Shop in Athens, just visit our website and write an email to get all the necessary information.