Whether you are a consumer or a coffee roaster you will know that the speciality coffee market in the UK is very competitive. Speciality coffee drinking from home is on the up. It helps there are lot of coffee roasters to pick from. So for coffee roasters it is quite the task to get them to buy your coffee over others.
This past year I have come across many new coffee roasting businesses and have worked with a few different up and coming brands trying to establish themselves in the market. From this, I have learned a thing or two about the huge variety in the coffee roasting scene and what sets certain roasters apart from others in terms of quality and success. So I thought I would write an article on what consumers want to see from coffee roasters in the hopes that it may possibly aid some fledgling businesses trying to find their feet. This can be for the new coffee roasters or even existing roasters looking to offer something they have not done so.
1. More Taster Packs
Offering taster packs is a great idea to try and get consumers to try your range of coffee. Going through a roasters website I get super excited when I see all the different coffees on offer. But generally I am only looking to buy one or two coffee bags at one time. So it can be a bit daunting to splurge out on several full-sized packs when you’re not even sure if you’re going to like it. Therefore, if I see a taster pack being offered then that’s a great way for me to taste a range of coffee, without spending too much at once.
Taster packs can really get a customer into your coffee if they know you offer a good and varied selection. It is also quite fun for coffee lovers to brew and compare coffee and even if one type is not to their taste it’s enjoyable try it out and won’t cost them buying a whole bag.
Now taster packs can be a bit difficult to arrange for roasters due roasting days, different package sizes and being dependant on the amount of orders you get. I don’t think it needs to be provided all the time or on order. It can be a limited offer every so often or you get pre-orders a month ahead.
2. Providing brewing methods
Roasters providing brew methods for their coffee can be very useful for their customers. That could involve dialling in an espresso or a V60 recipe. We all know that you can’t apply the same exact brew method to every coffee. Generally you hear people adjusting the grind size or changing brewers to find the best tasting brew. But at times you come across a coffee which you can’t get right taste even after lots of tweaking. So if anyone knows the right brewing method to get the taste spot on then it would be the coffee roaster, right?
Now some roasters do provide brew methods. It might be on their website, YouTube or even on the back of a coffee package albeit in a brief manner. But it would be good if a lot more roasters shared their methods. It doesn’t have to be a World Brewers Champion method or some Aeropress by-pass recipe where you need 30 grams of coffee for 220ml water (I tried that and it was surprisingly good). But a simple method that roasters use themselves to taste the coffee would be very helpful. It can make the customers enjoy the coffee sooner, compare recipes and avoid being frustrated.
3. Transparency and back story is still the key
Behind every coffee there is a story and true coffee lovers will never get bored of the information that coffee packs…literally. That’s why I was drawn into speciality coffee because I was able to read about how the coffee came into my cup before I took a sip. Aside from being ethical and transparent, this adds to the whole experience of buying and drinking speciality coffee. So coffee roasters should try to provide as much information as possible to allow consumers to track the story and the journey of the coffee.
This includes where, how and who produced the coffee. We know coffee is not a plant that you just water every so often until a bean sprouts out. The process is complex for farmers and they need knowledge, experience and understanding of their conditions to grow coffee. Myself and other speciality coffee lovers want to know about that process. Experienced coffee drinkers can be affected by the way they brew the coffee based off the process. Again, it really adds to the experience and creates that connection between all the people involved in speciality coffee.
I also love to know about the coffee roasters too and the people involved. I tried a crazy Ethiopian coffee few months back and talked about it on Instagram including how small the coffee beans were. The roaster reached out to me and spoke about the roasting process telling me about the difficulty in roasting the small beans and how the get the best flavours out of them. I honestly appreciated that coffee a lot more after learning that.
So the more information about the coffee and the people behind it the better. The information can be anywhere from on the coffee pack, a card that comes with it or just on the website. Also, new roasters should follow examples of providing information about the coffee they are selling. I have seen too many times words like ‘Ethical’, ‘Sustainable’ and ‘Women-produced’ thrown into the marketing but there is no backstory into those words. How is it ethical or sustainable? Who were these women who produced the beans? There needs to be context behind those words because it is important to consumers who want to see that transparency.
4. Reward Schemes
One thing I don’t think I have seen from coffee roasters is a reward scheme. I am not going to lie, this sprang into my mind when I was on Uber Eats and saw restaurants offering rewards schemes. But this can work in different of ways especially around consumers who use the subscription services provided by coffee roasters.
I think a subscription service is great if customers can save a little and have coffee sent to them without worrying about constantly ordering or even worse…running out of coffee. But the speciality coffee sector for roasters is highly competitive with lot more new roasters starting every year. If you already have loyal customers or they are on your subscription service then a reward scheme might just keep them there a bit longer.
5. Separating Espresso and Filter Coffee
Let me state, I have no issues with a coffee being roasted in one batch so its suitable for both espresso and filter. Omni roasting can be very convenient for roasters in terms of cost and time. It can also be convenient for consumers too who want coffee for any type of brew. The only potential downside is quality can be comprised. Therefore it requires a skilled roaster to get the coffee to a good standard for both espresso and filter
I have enjoyed coffee that is suitable for both espresso and filter in the past. But nowadays I will only buy it from well-known roasters. The reason is that I have come across coffee from new roasters who are trying to pass a coffee for all brewers when the roast is way too dark for filter. As a customer, I am trusting the roaster when they state the coffee is suitable for all brews. So when I have come across coffee way to dark for a V60 then it is frustrating because I know they are just passing it off to get all customers to buy it.
If new roasters are going to be providing a single coffee for all types of brews then they should also provide coffee that is specifically for espresso or filter. Otherwise I am going to be more skeptical and less likely to buy a such coffee. So I would really advise roasters to keep treating espresso drinkers and filter coffee drinkers as two different set of customers.
Writing this post I have realised a lot of coffee roasters do a really awesome job in providing coffee. It’s not easy, I have seen some roasters talk about the hardship behind the business side. Coffee is a passion that motivates people to share the love of it. When I look through a coffee roasters instagram page or website, most of the times I see the right things for me to confidently buy coffee and know it will taste good. But there are always a few tweaks and improvements they could make that would give them an edge over competitors and translate into more success for their business.