While selling home coffee brewers, a new direct-to-consumer coffee equipment company called Simply Good Coffee is planning to also put money in the pockets of partnering coffee businesses.
Created by Laura Sommers — the founder of longtime coffee equipment seller Espresso Supply — Olympia, Washington-based Simply Good Coffee made its debut at the Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston last month. (Find DCN’s complete SCA 2022 coverage here.)
Simply Good is relying on a novel business model through which participating coffee companies earn commissions each time one of its automatic home coffee brewers are sold.
Participants can place a display-model brewer inside their retail shop or on their website, while an associated QR code points consumers to the Simply Good Coffee site for sales, service, shipping and all other customer needs.
Coffee companies, who are given their own sales report dashboard, then earn tiered commissions based on the number of units sold through their QR code, according to Simply Good Coffee CEO Dean Rotchin, who spoke with DCN in Boston.
“They don’t have to buy the machines,” Rotchin said of the coffee retailer’s role. “They’re not reselling them; all they need to do is put an example in their store.”
Sommers told DCN that the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for online sales among brick-and-mortar coffee purveyors while describing the Simply Good setup as a kind of overhead- and labor-free entryway for coffee businesses to diversify their revenue streams.
“All the stores and the shops and the grocers are so important in their communities,” Sommers said. “They’re hiring people; that’s where people meet to socialize; they meet to go on their dates. I see the coffee shop as a vital piece of every community, but it’s tough to be in that business.”
The inaugural brewer in the Simply Good line is a 40-ounce-capacity machine — the equivalent of eight cups, by U.S. coffee industry standards — called the Olson.
The price of the machine will be fixed for all users and it will only be available through the company’s online platform, according to Rotchin.
Sommers described that machine as intentionally easy to operate with a relatively fast brew cycle while still being able to deliver high-quality specialty coffee.
A simple two-way switch starts the brew cycle, while another switch activates or deactivates a bloom cycle. Finished brew flows into a glass carafe with a hot plate.
“Right now it seems like everyone has to have an Insta pot or an air fryer or sous vid, but yet they don’t have a quality brewer on their counter,” Sommers said. “But you use that every day, and it makes what you’re consuming taste so much better.”
Sommers also believes the Simply Good Coffee model could help permanently bring more casual coffee drinkers into the specialty coffee realm.
“We certainly have been successful with the consumer in the cafe environments, but then how do we cross over to the next step?” Sommers said. “I completely believe that part of the reason that cafes have been successful is because the coffee is so much better, and it has changed consumers and their purchasing habits… I do not see this as undermining the cafes; I see it as strengthening the relationship between that customer and the place where they get their coffee.”
Rotchin and Sommers told DCN that Simply Good plans to launch with a handful of shops as it refines its operations, while other brewer models may eventually be added to the Simply Good line.
“The people who add the most value are the people who built the specialty coffee industry, who work in cafes and who have that passion for coffee,” Rotchin said. “With them, we believe we can reinvent how coffee machines are sold.”
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