May 2019 - Instant coffee, Secret Label and Roaster's Rant
Date Posted:1 May 2019
“One of the scariest things in the world is to stand in front of the mirror and meet yourself.” — Philip McKernan
Photo - new crop 2019 PNG processing - courtesy LCM
So what happened to April ?
Quite a few customers reached out to ask about April's Secret Label.
Just as we were about to pull the trigger on our April Newsletter, we received a call for help from another large coffee company to roast for them after their big production system broke down unexpectedly.
When we say a lot of coffee......it was a ridiculously large number that's quite frankly off the scale....... running our big platform flat-out 16hrs a day, day after day to keep up with the combined demands of mycuppa plus another couple of tons each day for them.
Whilst the coffee industry is super-competitive and some people might enjoy seeing others fail, helping out another "coffee roaster" is just being a decent human and you never know when someone might need a favor returned one day. As my father always said "son, the mark of a real man is helping others in a time of need".
Once we got over the madness and recovered, it was just not the right time to run a campaign with Easter approaching - freight around Easter has historically been an absolute nightmare and this year was shaping up as extreme with so many school holidays and public holidays jammed up together over a short time-frame - so the second half of April was declared a write-off for most businesses and we made the call to not run any promotion.
In looking back to what happened in March, the ever popular Secret Label coffee sold astonishingly quickly and we hit the bottom of the pile in just 2 short weeks. With March's Secret Label running down so fast, we thought about trying to do a good deed for our customers in running a flash 48hr sale for a coffee called Revolver.
The flash sale went crazy.....literally 600kg sold in the first 24 hours. We may look to play that game again at some stage.....it's sort of fun to challenge and push beyond limits.....but I'm not sure the mycuppa team would share this sentiment.
This month we have some interesting news - yes it's May and it's not the fool's joke we didn't publish in April when we talk about getting into instant coffees. See our article below.
May's Secret Label is all about sheer class - brown sugar sweetness, orange, praline, rich and syrupy body with a delightful balance - oozing sophistication. Take the tip and get on it before it runs out.....we are not sure how long it will last, this Newsletter goes out to 21,000+ subscribers, so we are guessing there are quite a few holding out for it's release given April was a rather barren month.
May Secret Label
This month's Secret Label is a delicious coffee that just keeps on growing and growing in our appreciation.
One of the things that strikes me about a coffee is it's "inherent balance" because it's a damn difficult target to really hit the mark most of the time. Acids and flavours can be tricky devils that often works against each other.
Some coffees have it others don't and no matter what sort of polishing you can do as the roaster, if it already has the foundations of great balance from the start my life becomes a whole lot easier and the coffee is generally better received and appreciated by the consumer.
This is one of those coffees that right out of the box has the "balance" nailed and the prevailing notes of brown sugar sweetness with orange and praline combined with the rich body provide an excellent textured finish. It's from a South American origin and that's as far as we are going with the hints and clues.
This coffee was locked and loaded ready to pull the trigger as April's Secret Label before the call for help was received from another coffee company, so we have been drinking small batches of this coffee all month and tasted some amazing milk-based espresso cups - it's just really delicious.
As an added bonus, this month's Secret Label is also double certified FAIRTRADE and Organic, although we are not marketing those features so you can save on the premiums and levies that normally apply to those certified products.
AROMA/FRAGRANCE - Brown Sugar, apple, citrus
FLAVOUR - Brown sugar, apple, orange, soft floral, praline.
ACIDITY - Juicy.
BODY - Rich and syrupy.
BALANCE - Very good balance.
AFTERTASTE - Good with soft herbal finish.
OVERALL - Sweet cup, nice fruit, good balance.
** SORRY - SECRET LABEL FOR THIS MONTH IS NOW SOLD OUT ** to avoid disappointment, please subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter in order to receive the offers at the time of release to the store.
Instant coffee - no April Fool's joke ?
We started producing portion control coffee solutions a decade ago back in 2009, before the likes of Nespresso capsules and various pod systems became the mass-produced, growth story they are today.
In those early days, specialty coffee was largely confined to the cafe segment and most households had a jar or tin of instant in the pantry and the growing number of coffee enthusiasts kept some pre-ground coffee in the fridge (oh dear, did I just say fridge!) for a plunger/French press, percolator or drip indulgence.
These were the beginnings of MasterChef and most home kitchens were relatively basic without the shiny espresso machine displayed on the bench.
Today it's a different story (and I'm not just talking about never putting your coffee in the fridge), espresso or capsule systems in kitchens and workplaces are a common sight and consumers seek quality outcomes for their coffee, mostly driven by the innate desire for the rich, creamy and sweet-tasting textured milk espresso beverage that powers the Australian coffee consumers.
So what's the point of being interested in instant coffee?
It's a market that's rapidly contracted in the last decade from the shift in consumer tastes and it's also a big market that's completely failed to innovate, transform or adapt to changing demands. It's almost like the segment has been stuck in a time warp, wrapped in some type of safe cocoon, or strange denial from the attacks of other competing beverage systems.
Personally, I'm quite the contrarian and enjoy nothing better than playing against the direction of the "market". Let me tell you, I've been busting to dive into instant for many years, but sadly lacked the time (and capital) to pursue this desire with too many plant and equipment changes over the last 12 years the strategy for Instant Coffee has always been pushed to the back-burner.
Today, instant coffee is under siege from capsules, pods, espresso machines and a vast array of new brew, innovative devices like the Aeropress, yet it's still a surprisingly large segment.
Just a few weeks ago at the US Specialty Coffee Expo, frozen coffee concentrates were showcased with incredible fanfare as the newest innovation in consumer coffee beverages - in fact, the product won "Best in Show" and I'm sure there will be an avalanche of media coverage once the concept takes hold locally.
However, in hoping to improve the quality of Instant coffee it's not so simple or straightforward like capsules or pods - you can't just drop some delicious, fresh roasted beans into a converter and having those better quality beans transformed into super tasty instant particles.
Nope, it's not that simple. Seems that just a couple of places can do instant coffee and they aren't keen on having someone else tread on their sacred grounds - it's certainly not an open market and probably the reason it's remained stuck in a time warp for what seems like forever.
They don't need to change because there are no threats or apparent challengers - barriers to entry are way too high in Australia as it's seen as the least attractive segment of coffee for potential investors. Sure, there have been 1,000 coffee roasters installed in the last few years, but how many new Instant Coffee plants ?.......none.
Who would have thought the manufacturing process for instant coffee was seriously complex and challenging - far more capital and labour intensive than roasting coffee and hence why it's not cheap to produce.
The best technologies for instant coffee processing (freeze-dried) involve eye-watering investments that quite frankly don't present viable returns in the near term unless you also own a large distribution channel and can guarantee sales of 20,000+ jars a week.
So what we have done in our first generation Instant solution is source better quality preparations for specific applications - a lovely tasting single origin Brazil Freeze Dried and an ethically sourced Colombian FAIRTRADE agglomerated product to fit into our principles of supporting moral and social coffee programs.
To be clear, our objectives here are to offer something that's a bit different to the same old boring lines available in the supermarket and to also validate the broader market opportunity.
We think there's room for better products and to shift coffee outcomes closer to the needs of consumers with support for social and ethical programs like FAIRTRADE.
Available in packs of 150g, 250g and the bulk 500g.
Take a look at our range here - instant coffee.
Roaster's Rant - what's with all the Decaf ?
Not so much a rant, but an observation.
I'm wondering if somebody published a medical article claiming caffeine is bad for you - because almost everything I read is quoting the complete opposite with coffee as having some health benefits like anti-oxidants, etc........ or maybe Australia on the cusp of a huge spike in new babies over the next few months !.
We have always sold a large amount of decaf every week in comparison to most other coffee companies, but it just seems to becoming more and more popular.
As an example, since December last year our Decaf sales have more than tripled - and that's off a pretty big base.
Yep, that's right......up 300% for reasons that are not immediately obvious. Customers are buying bulk lots of 8x 500g or 10x500g packs at a time and we get a lot of those sized orders, every day, 7 days a week.
It's reached the point we are roasting even larger batches of Decaf every day instead of what was normally a routine that was performed 2 or 3 times a week.
In contrast, most coffee companies are lucky to roast Decaf once a week or once a fortnight, if that.
So now Decaf has risen to be our top selling coffee behind Suuweet.
I've tried to work out why the demand for Decaf has exploded but the reasons keep escaping me. I guess we could pretend for a moment that it's due to something totally silly like other coffee roasters being unable to roast Decaf properly, even if their life depended upon it - but that's nonsense.
Whatever the reasons, there is obviously a large market for Decaf drinkers that coffee companies appear to be treating with contempt or ignoring - or maybe it's the lame, stale supermarket Decaf offerings that no longer provide a basic standard of acceptable beverage and Decaf drinkers are looking elsewhere to achieve a decent brew.
Whatever is behind the growth of Decaf, we are riding the wave as it's a product we have engineered with exceptional precision and care for the last 12 years - perhaps that answer we have been looking for is already right under our nose.