With more and more coffee shops opening left, right and center we move closer to the doomed saturation point in the UK. This isn’t helped by the likes of global commercial chains like Star Bucks and Costa flooding the market with dare I say mediocre coffee. As a result speciality coffee shops are changing to find new and better ways to keep customers engaged, and a coffee shop we’ve recently had the pleasure of working with who do this well are ‘It All Started Here’, a multi roaster coffee shop based in Glasgow.
‘It All Started Here’ operate a coffee shop that rather than being tied to one roaster adopt a multi roaster business model. The most obvious benefit is the gift of variety to their customers by using a number of speciality roasters including lo and behold Long & Short Coffee, as well as other strong players in the game such as The Barn, Assembly, Five Elephant, Foundry and so on. Outside of this, the model also allows for flexibility in use by either offering different roasters consecutively or at the same time. So lets explore what makes them great as well as the hurdles facing this model.
- A multi roaster cafe uses a variety of coffee that itself can see a one up against your average coffee shop. With a seemingly limitless supply of roasters available customers are given the opportunity to try them all in one convenient shop.
- Over time the regular rotation of roasters allow a coffee shop to better understand what customers enjoy. Based on their preference of flavour, coffee can be picked to suit customer wants and needs.
- By operating a higher rotation of branded beans, coffee shops are forced to dial in coffee more regularly that helps them learn more effectively. This can include improving extraction of coffee through experience resulting in better baristas.
- Coffee shops have more room in terms of marketing by harnessing what makes a coffee roaster great. A coffee roaster can be picked based on popularity, bean choice, story or even support local or international roaster initiatives and the list goes on.
- More organisation is required to keep the rotation of roasters going by maintaining more partnerships and building relationships on a regular basis. Roasters may market to coffee shops but on the flip side more pressure is put on coffee shops to source new roasters.
- Roasteries can have a certain style when roasting (yes it’s not just about the bean) and more time maybe needed to learn how to get the best out of a coffee dependent on this. This can mean more coffee is wasted particularly if new baristas are unaware of how to adapt brew techniques by roaster profile.
- The coffee shop may not get the same benefits granted by long standing and secure roaster partnerships and furthermore costs may be higher due to lower economies of scale.
- With a larger amount of roasters in use the risk for introducing bad beans increases just as much as better. Samples can be tasted prior to new roaster use but a bad streak of coffee that strays too far from customer likes may hinder them returning.
Overall I can see a number of advantages and disadvantages to becoming a multi roaster cafe, which can make or break it. However, done well such as in the case of ‘It All Started Here’ the benefits can clearly outweigh the negatives.
They’re a solid coffee shop that flourish on many levels including equipment (espresso machine envy above with their custom WBC tweaked Nuova Simonelli Aurelia), but one who have a clear understanding of what good coffees are and how to use them, which all add value to the customer. The benefits for us as a roaster mean we can get our beans in front of more customers by working with coffee shops more open to trying something new or different.
Finally for you the coffee loving customer, a variety of great coffee makes its way into your cup in a single setting. With all that being said, don’t take our word for it — why not experience it yourself and don’t forget to say ‘Hi’ from us if you visit ‘It All Started Here‘.