A contribution from Martin Elwert in the category #News from 4 February 2019
In addition to the 11 thoughts about the Specialty Coffee industry, I’d like to also explain our strategy in this fast-paced environment. It is important to mention, that we have never been in the position of having to come up with a proper mid or long-term strategy for Coffee Circle. We were so busy trying to stay alive over the last 8 years that for the most part, we only really planned for a maximum of 6 months in advance. That all started to change in 2017 and this positive development only continued to grow in 2018. So now we believe it’s time to think a bit more in the long-term.
1. Growing our D2C core business
Selling great coffee, direct to consumer, is our core business. With a new mobile website, much more flexible technology and an expanded product team, we now want to start working! We will focus our effort on our most successful products as well as customer journeys. We will also make a first move beyond German speaking countries. We will launch an international site with the aim of tapping into the European potential of Specialty Coffee. We will keep working on our Espresso portfolio, and will further refine our Filter offering. We will try to be even faster at getting the green coffee to Berlin after the harvest, so that what ends up in the cup is the freshest it can be. We will add Brazil as new direct trade origin and maybe include another one also. In terms of product, we want to rework our subscription offering and make it more attractive to customers. Furthermore, we will keep working on deciphering Specialty Coffee language for normal coffee drinkers, so that they can select the right coffee for their taste and brewing methods. This is another effort to make Specialty Coffee more inclusive for everybody. Our mission says “We are driven by technology and by our relentless pursuit to elevate user experience”. This is what counts, at any touchpoint.
Are you interested in my thoughts about the Specialty Coffee Industry in 2019?
2. Opening Coffee Shops
In line with our Direct-to-Consumer Strategy, we will open coffee shops. For all of us, this is incredibly exciting and the next logical step after opening our own roastery two years back. Coffee is one of the most social drinks on the planet and that idea will be at the core of our retail strategy. Our shops will be warm, cosy, friendly and first and foremost, inclusive. More than ever, we will be serving the greatest coffees we can find out there. Our first Café will also contain a coffee learning and training center where we want to offer regular coffee tastings (cuppings) and where we will also offer a range of coffee workshops for every skill level. It is our mission to improve lives by delivering outstanding coffee. That does not only mean lives at origin. We don’t want Specialty Coffee to be an untouchable art of a select few, we want to make Specialty Coffee accessible for everybody, we want it to change the lives of consumers the way it changed our lives. Let me know if you are interested in taking a role in that journey. We are about to hire an experienced retail team very soon and plan to open our first location in May.
Coffee is one of the most social drinks on the planet
3. Growing our Coffee-for-Businesses offering
We will invest further in our second largest revenue stream – Direct-to-Business for corporate customers. We aim to become the coffee brand every CEO wants their employees to enjoy: Even if you need to pay double for the coffee, the CSR and employer branding effect you achieve is more than worth the money. Just buying a fair trade certified coffee doesn’t quite do the trick. We know that our product fits to the employer branding strategies of modern companies. We know that the young generation within the workforce (especially millennials and younger), care much more about their consumption and therefore want their employers to also rethink the products they buy. Coffee is an extremely visible product and it is especially important to show that you care as a company. It’s also easy to implement, just change your coffee supplier. By switching to us, you get much more than just great coffee. It is the combination of a modern brand, the story we tell and our transparent, social impact that convinces our clients.
Some or our clients look at it as an investment: The choice of the coffee supplier changes the perception of leadership, at very low cost. Coffee is something everybody touches on average of two times a day. It’s these two times a day that your cup of coffee could say “Your CEO loves you!”, or “Your CEO doesn’t care and only pays for shitty Coffee!”. Back in my days as a consultant, I worked mainly on restructuring and cost reduction cases at large corporates. The number one advice my boss gave to me was: “Never cut the budget for coffee. If you do that, employees will immediately know that the company is in big trouble and lose faith.” and I believe that this is also true the other way around.
In the B2B equipment wholesale business, we will further invest in the branding of Chemex products. We have a long-lasting partnership with Chemex which comes with the promise to develop the European market, build up the brand and protect it from a price race to the bottom. We’ve been very successful with this in the last few years and will continue to nurture that promise. We love Chemex – and always will.
4. Things we won’t touch
We will stick to our decision not to enter supermarkets. We are a D2C brand. Everything in a supermarket in Germany speaks against our mission. Freshness isn’t possible to guarantee, presentation is difficult as well as expensive and the overall user experience is just not that great. On top of that, it is economically a highly unattractive channel. Therefore, unless something significantly changes in the industry, we will keep avoiding supermarkets.
5. Adventures and dreams
There are things we want to do, things which do not necessarily make sense yet but we still want to achieve. One of those is developing our own equipment. We know so much about coffee that I think we could develop one hell of an Espresso machine or an amazing new filter brewing method or grinder. We have plenty of ideas but we also know that this could potentially be a long shot. Feel free to reach out if you want to partner up for something.
Furthermore, I would love to start growing and processing coffee. We know a great deal about coffee, but we haven’t touched farming yet or to put it differently – we know the theory, we know a lot from working with our partners at origin but we have never taken the risk of investing in crops, figuring out the best varietals, experimenting at our own risk with processing methods. We always just took the sunny part – now I want to learn about the risky side of things. I want to invest in land, facilities, and farming. I am convinced that this is the way to go in the long-term. I’ve talked about “engineered coffee” before and I believe this is the future.
“This is the adventure we share with you” is the last part of our mission. Please reach out if you have any comments or suggestions. I would love you to get in touch. Reach out to me via Email firstname.lastname@example.org, on LinkedIn or follow me on Instagram @martin.elwert!
Martin ist seit 2010 Gründer und Geschäftsführer von Coffee Circle. Martin treibt die Vision des Unternehmens voran und ist für die Umsetzung unserer Projekte in den Anbauländern verantwortlich.