For us as Quaffee, so far 2017 has been about reflecting on the last few years.
Our roots of offering coffee have always been aimed at those that #LiveForCoffee. We prefer offering coffee to the coffee lover that is driven to explore different coffees and the different tastes coffees have. This has been a key refocus for us this year.
The result has been a slight consolidation of our specialty grade coffee offering back, down to our established Colombians and Ethiopians with a supporting chorus of great examples of Brazilian, Burundi, Kenyan and Central American coffees. Our real high-end coffee offering (which sold very slowly) we will now only do on special occasions. We are also looking at expanding our rotating single origin offering next year to offer a little more choice.
Added to our more specialized offering, we now have 3 commodity-grade based coffee blends and all for under R240 a kilogram. These are a minimum of Organic but are typically traceable commodity-grade coffees that we feel represent the best of the commodity-driven market.
In this newsletter
Is it worth reading on? Here is a quick summary of what is coming up:
- New coffees coming – goodbye to others.
- A summary of some of the items we shared via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
- We re-introduce our coffee tasting events.
- Commentary on branding.
Hello – Hello and Goodbye
As mentioned we have been consolidating our coffees. While we have offered a few new coffees, they have mainly been replacements for those that we had. So, what is new and about to be released?
- Long miles coffee project – Gishubi: This coffee was one of the best we have had access to and so we were keen to get again. Unfortunately, the logistics of getting it here from Burundi have been a challenge and after almost 6 months we finally have this coffee again. We plan to release this coffee before the end of October.
- New Kenyan – we have been lucky to source some great Kenyans over the last few years and we have a new one. It will also be released before the end of October.
- New Colombian microlot from an old When visiting Colombia last year, we were very impressed with Jaimie Cassalas’s farm. The family were super friendly and massively passionate about producing quality coffee. When we were there we asked if they could please keep a microlot of 70kg for us to offer. This coffee has finally arrived and we will start offering it this month too.
We do still have some of the Indonesian Gayo coffee that has featured in our Rotating Single Origin offering.
Saying goodbye are the Burundi CoE from LMCP. The El Salvador Montecristo has also come to an end, and be the end of the year we will probably be offering a new Brazilian.
In case you missed it
We did an interesting comparison between the Chemex and the Brewista brewer, you can read more here: Chemex vs Brewista Smart Brew Comparison. Also, we tested and then decided to offer the Minipresso that takes ground coffee, read more here…. We have also played with the new Sette grinder. So far, no review is out since we want to play with it a lot more, but you can see it in our tasting room.
We have a number of public cuppings at both Buitenverwachting and the Vineyard hotel. We typically do on Thursday around 11 am at Buitenverwachting and most Fridays around 10:30 at The Vineyard Hotel.
Coffee tastings a reminder
We have had a number of bookings for our coffee tastings. We prefer to do it more one-on-one in groups between 2 and 6. So far the feedback has been amazing and we are enjoying doing them. Each tasting seems to take a slightly different turn since not only does the coffee change but the questions asked during the tasting direct the path the tastings take.
You can book by going to /coffee-tasting-experience.
Commentary on branding
Please note this is a personal perspective from Warren:
I saw a great quote the other day about the coffee industry: “In an industry polluted by marketing gimmicks, we’ve always chosen to stay rooted.” – Brad Goulding.
Over the last 8 months, we have had some strong criticism from some quarters of our consumer base that our branding is not representative of our product offering.
We put it out there via the various social platforms and it looks like there are a lot of mixed feelings around this issue. This resulted in a regular client offering to explain the importance of the frog so that we could place this on our site (you can read the result via Why the frog? on our website in the ‘about’ section).
While I have no strong argument against marketing and branding, and I do in some way accept that a stronger investment in marketing will help perpetuate the brand, I have always believed that the product quality is more important than the marketing.
Our obsession has always been around a tasty product and as a result, we have formed some strong partnerships, concentrating on things that make the coffee great. Simple things like our locally made, medical-grade, fully recyclable plastic bags. We found they work better for coffee than the Chinese made, imported packaging that is ubiquitous in the market (read more about the packaging here). From the way we log each roast and store roasted coffee in black sealable containers to prevent light affecting the coffee through to how we taste and select coffees we love. We work hard to identify the roast we prefer for that coffee (and this trying to replicate that roast).
And this is where the discussion on branding starts to irk me. There are so many things we would rather spend our money on. A rebranding and marketing exercise would cost us in the region of R30,000. For that money, there are so many things we can do that I feel would assist us in producing a better product.
In case you are interested, here are some of the things on our bucket list:
- Add proper Diedrich approved roast logging to our little roaster at the Vineyard hotel ($700) – this is actually in the pipes, the major problem has been the transport of the parts which has been another $400.
- A VST refractometer for brew evaluation (Around $730)
- A moisture meter for assessing the moisture content of a coffee (around R5000).
- A colour based roast testing kit (between R2,500 and R20,000)
- A walk-in cold room to keeping our green coffees at a consistent temperature and humidity (between R30,000 and R50,000).
So this is perhaps why I am torn about investing in something that for me will not add value to the end product we sell.
Am I wrong? Probably. But until I have the cold room, I cannot see me wanting to throw money at something that essentially increases the pollution in the industry with marketing gimmicks.