As we readjust to the recently announced stricter lockdown regulations, more and more businesses in the coffee industry are finding alternative ways to meet their customers’ needs more safely and conveniently. The requirement for quality coffee at home is becoming increasingly more and we saw this trend already before the holiday period where people working from home have more time to experiment with various coffee-making techniques while getting their caffeine fix.
A recent survey done by Mr Coffee with 2000 coffee drinkers in America, revealed that 49% of respondents have become “at-home baristas” during the lockdown in 2020, using their time inside to develop their coffee-making skills. They are now formally known as “qua-ristas”, according to The Ladders.com
These skills include:
|How to use an espresso machine||25%|
|How to make cold-brew coffee||20%|
|How to use a traditional drip coffee machine||20%|
|How to use a stovetop espresso machine||18%|
|How to make iced coffee||18%|
|How to use a grinder||17%|
|How to make pour-over coffee||17%|
|How to make whipped coffee||16%|
|How to use a French press||15%|
|How to properly store coffee beans||11%|
With this insight in mind, how can coffee roasters, coffee shops and e-Commerce coffee suppliers tap into this trend and provide meaningful eduction in a time when everyone is a DIY-expert.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Shahen Naidoo, owner and founder of Coffee Notes Online Speciality Coffee, and talk to him about their unique business model of empowering the “qua-ristas”.
Coffee Notes started in 2018 when Shahen, a software engineer by trade, was challenged by his kids to practice what he preaches: “You can master any new skill if you put your mind to it”. Both his sons mastered new musical instruments in a short space of time and are currently excelling at their chosen musical streams.
So, he decided to escape the corporate rat race, in exchange for a more balanced lifestyle and to pursue his dream of starting a coffee roasting business. The musical inspiration is the golden thread that pulls the brand and his dream together – from the coffee brand to the packaging and descriptions.
Today, Coffee Notes boasts a range of sophisticated artisan coffees, unique merchandise and home coffee accessories. The goal of this e-commerce business was always to bring quality specialty coffee direct to the home users, conveniently delivered to their doorstep. So, when the national Lockdown was announced in early 2020, it was business as usual for the Coffee Notes team.
According to Shahen, roasting for home users is different than roasting for coffee shops. “You are limited to their equipment at home: plungers, bean-to-cup machines, filter coffee machines or maybe mocha pot”, he explains. Through his blog posts, he educates the home users on different grinds, various coffee-making methods and even how to bake with coffee as a key ingredient.
In this way, he takes his customers on a journey and encourages them to explore and experiment with coffee in the comfort of their homes. All his social media posts and blogs are taken based inside his kitchen to set the mood and he uses specific tags to reach his audience like #brewathome #homebarista
Here are a few tips for new up and coming roasters with only an e-Commerce platform and who want to tap into the “qua-ristas” market:
- One of the most obvious challenges for an e-commerce shop is the lack of sensory stimulation businesses in the coffee industry rely on when customers walk into a retail store and look and feel your packaging and smell the coffee through the valve. You cannot replicate the sensory experience via an online store. So you have to be clever in your visual appearance, use of words. You do not know the audience’s reference points when it comes to certain smells and tastes (notes) so you have to keep the descriptions generic but still enticing.
- Remember that the first time people buy your coffee, it will be based on the look of your packaging. The second time they buy your coffee it is for the coffee itself: look at the unique colour, alliteration and unique illustrations to make it more memorable. Change it up and experiment with different fonts and layouts. Less is more!
- Motivate your audience to experiment with various brewing techniques, latte art and other barista-skills, by offering coffee-making equipment and accessories on your e-Commerce website. But keep it simple and informative – over-complicated processes and equipment can discourage your market very quickly.
- Be creative with promotions and current trends. “We saw a lot of creative social media posts around social occasions such a Heritage Day, Halloween and the Festive Season,” Shahen noticed. Depending on your location and audience, share new recipes of industry trends that they can easily replicate at home.
- The challenge with an e-commerce shop is that you don’t have a presence in the market to start with. Just because you have a beautiful e-Commerce shop, doesn’t mean you will have traffic to your website. Social media, word-of-mouth and online advertising is your main form of advertising. But how do you extend your reach? “The best way to grow your business as an e-commerce shop is to partner with others in the industry where you can leverage off from each other’s audiences, knowledge, and network. The partnerships should be very strategic and should be aligned with your values and goals, with the same audience”, according to Shahen.