My wife and I recently opened up a small coffee roastery and are trying to find various outlets for our coffee. We were wondering if anyone had any insight into how to approach multi-roaster cafés that are not local. Is it worth a road trip? Do we call or email and then mail samples? Any insights anyone could share would be appreciated! Thanks for your time!
Mailing samples is definitely the most efficient. Perhaps a cold call beforehand to give them a heads up would be appreciated?
I totally agree, get a list of what you feel are your potential clients and place calls ahead of sending a sample I am trying the same here and it is working.
All the best!
Just a personal anecdote. I walked into a coffee shop a long way from home to grab a morning coffee on vacation. I noticed the cafe carried multiple varieties and I started chatting up the owner. Turns out they change their roaster monthly. After talking for a while she actually asked me if I wanted to be a featured roster when she does her schedule for next year. So while that won’t be permemant hopefully it will at least be an annual account if they like our coffee. And it all started with a friendly conversation.
I’m not a fan of cold calling/ randomly mailing samples but I also haven’t given it a fair shot. So maybe I will. But as a general rule I like to start conversations with some sort of personal connection or story if at all possible. It feels a little less like business and more like a relationship.
I’ve been a part of buying decisions at a multi-roaster and i can tell you that we were always happy to try a new coffee from a new roaster. I would say don’t stress about getting in touch, don’t be shy with samples, and be absolutely sure to follow up after a week.
If they decide not to carry your stuff, ask them to give you bluntly honest feedback. What they tell you can help you decide if it is worth reaching out to them again or not. Maybe their style doesn’t even mesh with your roasting philosophy, etc. etc. You might also get some legitimately helpful and unbiased constructive criticism that helps you get better if you are willing to accept it.
I feel like like road trips are beneficial when possible (two hours may not be too bad while twenty could be problematic) because it shows the cafe owner that you care enough about your product that you’re willing to go a little further to get it into their hands. If you get a “no” at first, that’s okay – ownership or mindset could change in the future and it’s better to be the person who had good coffee and was pretty nice rather than the jerk who reacted poorly to initial rejection. If a cafe is three states away, mailing coffee doesn’t hurt but you’re more likely to find a customer if you establish some sort of a connection with them rather than just mailing some beans and a nicely-worded letter. Hope that helps!
Thanks for your insight Matt! Working on getting a list hashed out and the samples I the mail.
Thanks Alfred! I’m working on getting my list done and then mailing out the samples.
Thanks Tony! I agree about cold calling, but sometimes personal visits are impossible… I am definitely looking to hold personal connections with cafes. It’s just figuring out where and how to foster them.
Thanks for the insight Joshua! Working on my list now and getting ready to send some samples out.
Thanks for the reply Alex! I’m working on putting a road trip together, that seems like a great idea!
Sorry to be a bit late to the party. Lots of good feedback already, but I would like to add one thing.
If you just show up, please please please don’t just start a sales pitch off the bat at the counter. You wouldn’t believe the number of sales calls we get that just launch into a pitch at the counter in the middle of service of customers. And they usually don’t even buy anything.
Mainly this gets at respect for shop owners. If a salesman won’t respect our time and our customers, then it is very unlikely that we will consider them at all, regardless of product quality. Like others have mentioned, relationship matters a lot! When you boil it down, there are 100’s of great roasters that would fit the bill for most shops; relationships are the differentiating factor.
Thanks for the insight. I defiantly see it your way, but it’s always good to hear it from the shop owners view too… Thanks!
have a really slick online wholesale order process & the ability to order samples online as well would help
What size samples would you recommend sending to a potential customer? 100g? 300g?
Hey Samuel! Our shops gets tons I samples a month. I always feel wasteful when getting samples too large. But small samples may not be enough to play around with it in the ways you a want. I would suggest 300g samples, if not full 12oz bags. That watt it can cup, do a pit over, and possibly pull some shots if you want to see how the coffee reacts!