How Coffee Roasters
Deal With Covid-19

Covid-19 threatens the out of home coffee industry and many roasters need to find creative ways to stay afloat. Ryan Knapp (Madcap Coffee), Pil Hoon Seu (Coffee Libre), and Scott Tedder (Bonanza Coffee) tell us how they are handling the crisis.

What is the impact of this crisis?

Ryan Knapp, Madcap Coffee

“Our biggest impact has been from loss of sales in our coffee bars and wholesale. Wholesale shrunk significantly when the crisis first hit. And we had to temporarily close two of our four coffee shops. All of this requiring us to lay off about 80% of our staff for a period of time.”

Pil Hoon Sue, Coffee Libre

“Our sales of the coffee shop and wholesale dropped around 30% than before. But the daily operations stay the same.”

Scott Tedder, Bonanza Coffee

“We feel it most with our wholesale numbers… the majority of our customers are closed or running on very limited sales, which means for us, we have significantly less to roast for them. It has meant that we can have limited staff to run our production, but we have had to be a lot more flexible with when we roast.”

What are you doing to handle this crisis?

“We are still roasting 5 days a week. And our production is starting to build back up. A big one was the online ordering system in our coffee bars. I see this being a convenience that will likely be a preferred ordering method for many customers for some time. We’ve geared a lot of energy into our service on social media and through our newsletters to continue to generate support on online sales. We also began offering 5lb bags direct to consumers, which we have never done before and has been quite popular.” – Ryan

“We are paying more attention to our cash flow and budget plan than before. And we paid a little more attention to our online shop as well. We also let customers know our coffee shops and roastery are under strict hygiene control and we tell them to visit our online shop.” – Pil

“Our smaller 3kg roaster is a great tool in these times, as we can ensure smaller amounts can be roasted without any waste. The 45kg production roaster is still in action to roast our larger orders though. We also pushed a lot of our new merchandise and retail options that people are very willing to purchase at the moment, it has been really nice to see how much support a lot of people are wanting to give to the shops/businesses that they would usually frequent.” – Scott

How are you managing the team?

“Our team has shrunk quite a bit over the past 8 weeks, so it’s taken more of an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality. Our primary focus has been offering great service and getting orders out for our loyal customers who have kept supporting us. But certain projects have had to go on hold as we’ve trimmed down to be as efficient as possible to sustainable weather this time.” – Ryan

“First of all, we are focusing on personal hygiene and occupational hygiene management for the health of our employees. Next, the focus is on hygiene management at coffee shops for our customers.” – Pil

“Everyone has been fantastic, we are already a relatively autonomous group when we are in our positions, so it has been great to see how people have filled gaps where needed, and that everyone has kept positive and motivated to do what we can in the areas we can. Anyone that could work from home in the production or sales teams are doing so, with only necessary travel to the Roastery if needed. Our roasters are staying far apart and not working the same days, this lets us ensure that even if one of them does get ill, we still do have someone to roast at all times.” – Scott

How do you keep cashflow steady?

 “We’ve been fortunate to have an influx in online, direct to consumer sales have helped. And grocery sales remain busy. We are doing what we do best by continuing to offer dynamic coffee that is alive and inspiring. Our team knows how important coffee is to people’s daily life and we are pouring our efforts into making sure their coffee is wicked delicious, while also being as convenient as possible.” – Ryan

“We had some cash flow issues in the beginning, but not anymore. Fortunately, our online sale was increasing, and it compensates other losses. And our green coffee sales were not affected by Covid-19 yet. We don’t have any social shutdown or curfew in Korea, but people get inert because of the situation. More people stay at home, fewer social activities. So I think the economic situation here is better than other countries which are under the shutdown.” – Pil

“Thankfully keeping both our stores open, and now opening our third location at the start of May (great timing right?) has meant that we can maintain staffs hours importantly, but also the cash flow that comes from retail sales and takeaway drinks has been surprisingly positive. Obviously, we have all the safety measures in place, and the customers are very aware of what our limitations are, so it really all kind of fell into place, and almost seems a normality now. For our wholesale customers, that is reliant on them being open, we are seeing more and more slowly opening back up now, with only takeaways or offering subscription services themselves. As for webshop customers, we make sure that there is always something on our Instagram for them to see, coffees and merchandise are selling really well, and we have more subscribers to our monthly offerings at the moment too, so I think a lot of people are just getting into the swing of just ordering coffee to have at home now.” – Scott

Reach out

If you have any questions on how we, as a coffee importer, can assist you through these times, please reach out. We are more than happy to help you.