Coffee Circle: How the start-up makes the coffee trade fairer

LEAD: Your online shop offers coffee by subscription. Or the possibility to order coffee as normal. What is more important to you: the subscription or the standard orders?

Maria Hänel: That’s hard to say. Subscribers are just as important to us as all other customers who order their coffee from us. We try to fill the subscription with added value and make it attractive. We always say that we have designed the coffee subscription as we would like it to be: adaptable at any time, cancelable at any time.

For many customers, the subscription is not the right solution, as their coffee consumption is not regular enough. That’s why it’s hard for us to say what’s more important. Every customer who chooses our coffee has made the right decision and is therefore appreciated. The challenge of the next few years will be to make it as easy as possible for these customers to find the right coffee for their taste and to keep the service level high: everything has to be done quickly and smoothly.

LEAD: Then a dash button à la Amazon would be interesting for you? So a button with which your customers can automatically reorder coffee with you?


Maria: That would indeed be very nice, is currently technically not possible for us. In fact, customers are clearly getting used to the availability of Amazon or the return policy of Zalando and we are demanding that as well. That puts pressure on us, but it also challenges us.

LEAD: What makes your offer so special compared to other providers?

Maria: Of course we are not the only ones who offer really good coffee. In Germany, the number of roasters is growing exponentially! But we provide the customer with an experience in which he can completely relax. You order conveniently online and you can be sure that your coffee was traded fairly, grown naturally and gently roasted. At the same time, you are doing every mug a good thing.

LEAD: You write on your website that you want to become Europe’s largest specialty coffee roaster by 2020. How realistic is this goal?

Maria: The goal is not unrealistic. Especially in the specialty coffee scene, there are only a few similarly sized players.

In addition to a great product, it’s just as important to us that we understand that coffee is a high quality product comparable to wine.

LEAD: Knowledge transfer – this is what a provider achieves above all through content. How do you create your content and where do you play your content?

Maria: We create our content in-house. We access current trends, recipes or thoughts that occupy us in our blog. But also on our website you will find a large bouquet of knowledge – from coffee cultivation, processing to the preparation guide. Of course, we are playing this content on the major social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

We benefit from the fact that there is an incredible interest and commitment on the subject of coffee and espresso – and a correspondingly large search volume! Organic traffic via Google search results is still our strongest traffic channel, the most read articles are mostly older than 3 years. For example, if you need to know how to dose your coffee for the French Press, you will not be able to get past Google.

With CRM campaigns and a weekly newsletter we keep our customers up to date. At the end of the year we like to inform our customers about what has become of the 1 € donation for each coffee package and what we have achieved together with them.

LEAD: What’s your content strategy?

Maria: We are very focused on what the customers and the community want to know – and pack our expert knowledge in such a way that everyone can understand it. That is our claim. Of course, there are classic analysis tools to find out what people are looking for on Google – but Facebook, Instagram, and direct customer contact in particular help us to understand what people want to know.

We produce content about our products, coffees and matching accessories, coffee roasting topics from roasting to preparation or new trends and recipes, as well as our journeys to the origin and tell us where coffee actually comes from.

We recommend accessories that we have tested and use ourselves. We take you on our journey and try to look behind the scenes.

LEAD: And who creates all the content?

Maria: Our content team consists of 4 employees, our marketing team has a total of six to seven employees. Depending on the project, we are supported by an external photographer or an external video creator. For example, at the last harvest, in December 2017, they accompanied us on our trip to Ethiopia – so we can share our impressions with our customers / followers.

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LEAD: How do you use Instagram?

Maria: We mainly use Instagram as a branding channel and as a source of inspiration for our customers. True to the motto: We take you with us, on our journey to really good coffee, for all. Keeping in mind that there’s no point in trying to lure customers out of Instagram, “The blog article can be found here and there” – we believe that you have to pack the content differently for each channel, just that On Instagram, the users rarely leave the medium and want to be on the channel itself like to sprinkle. That’s why we like to tell the stories completely there. We offer you the link to the website, but you do not need to use it to understand the content.

LEAD: And is Instagram also interesting for you as a sales channel?

Maria: In principle, yes. Especially because Instagram has new features – because Instagram offers shopping that allows users to shop on mobile devices. The products are directly linked in the Insta story or the feed. So the user gets to the shopping cart in just a few clicks. So far, however, the posts are still not very sell-strong.

LEAD: What would you call your most important social media channel?

Maria: I can not answer that blanket. Each channel has its own destination. The mix is ​​important in the end. YouTube is a sales channel for us and is also used by many customers as a search engine. This is very relevant for product testing. Instagram is very much a branding tool for us. We can communicate with our customers quickly and take them behind the scenes. Facebook is similar, although we find that the communities are very different. People are much more positive on Instagram, more open and better informed – while on Facebook but also voices from the crowd report that have never dealt with us and then accuse us that we even “exploit” – but have never visited our website. You just have to develop a thick coat and have informative, quick answers ready.

LEAD: Do you also use ads on Facebook and Instagram?

Maria: We use ads on Facebook and we experiment with ads on Instagram. There we are currently testing which formats are the most suitable. Our goal, especially with ads in stories, is that the ad’s integrate, do not disturb, but do not go down.

LEAD: And how do you deal with influencers?

Maria: We are happy that we have an active community right on Instagram that lets us share their coffee moments. Therefore, we work more with coffee lovers from our environment than engage influencers. In principle, we are also open to it, but we have not yet found the right influencer. Authenticity is an important aspect for us. That is why we have so far refrained from booking influencers simply via common platforms or agencies.

LEAD: What do your customers look like?

Maria: We have a mixed clientele – from coffee beginners to home barista, everything is there. There are both a customer who likes to try other coffee roasting, as well as customers who are very loyal and once found their favorite coffee with us. We try to offer you the right coffee for you – whether you prefer to drink the fruity filter coffee or the espresso with neat boobs.

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