In this together.

By Jason Scheltus


2910268464_4cd591a43fIt’s not just about the gravy. Coffee roasters in the UK may be limited by the availability of interesting clean coffee, but it’s not yet a problem, and it shouldn’t affect their prosperity.


The points of difference between these roasters will be shown to be service, branding, distribution, and reputation; rather than presenting a product that is completely unique to the market*. For example, in Melbourne (between the 70’s and now) most of the wholesale coffee companies were all offering low-grade (read: not “specialty”) coffee that was roasted in Italy, and cut with low-grade robusta. The difference between these companies, and how they competed, was in the branding, price and reputation, which was built on good relationships with successful cafes (e.g. Brunetti’s, Degraves, Lygon St Food Store, et al.). 


The same argument could be applied to specialty coffee roasters. Except it doesn’t. Oddly, competing over “specialty coffee customers” seems to be against each company’s best interest. Sharing that small market of people who like good espresso, or whatever, is a very small loss compared to the gain of converting one of the many Tesco instant coffee drinkers. I remember visiting a café, which had a list of other cafés that serve good coffee in the same city, right there on their blackboard. I thought that was useful and nice, so god-darned nice – wouldn’t you go back if they made you a good cappuccino? It’s self-promotion too, “hey look how confident we are in our awesome cappuccinos, theirs are good too”. Nice.


It wouldn’t hurt Coffee UK to have a greater selection of good clean coffee, but I think everyone will do very well with what is out there, especially if the focus is on promoting good coffee, not just “our awesome cappuccinos”, at least for the time being.






*An excellent example of a company being limited by one of these factors is Has Bean, who, as far as I’m aware, doesn’t have a retail outlet – limiting distribution. The online customers that are served so well by Has Bean (and I am one of them) give positive feedback on the internets, and so it goes forward to more internet custom. Having limited exposure on High Street (Hi Obama) isn’t a problem for Has Bean. Excellent product, top service, and we know where to get it – nice one.




~ by bombcup on January 6, 2009.

One Response to “In this together.”

  1. Great Article. Many industries have expanded by joint promotion of their sector to grow the PIE rather than fight against each other for a share of the exisiting pie. The overall shift of people along the Speacialy coffee contiuum will be of great benefit to the entire specialty coffee industry.

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