BeanScene talks to Coffee Works Express about how its longstanding partnerships have been critical in overcoming the challenges presented by COVID-19, and why relationships are the foundation to success.
Navigating plans around the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been easy for many Australian businesses, but for premium coffee equipment distributor Coffee Works Express (CWE), maintaining strong industry partnerships has eased the journey.
With an office in Sydney and Melbourne, CWE has remained open throughout recurring lockdowns and continues to provide technical service, spare parts support, and necessary equipment to its customers.
“This is something that is really important to us. It’s not just about helping our clients but also supporting the wider coffee industry during this difficult time,” says Natalie Kollar, Marketing and Brand Manager of CWE.
“We are incredibly vigilant with the way our technicians work on sites. They take COVID-19 tests every three days and are strict about maintaining social distancing. This guarantees the safety of our customers and that they can continue their business operation as smoothly as possible.”
With constantly changing circumstances, CWE has also implemented a booking service for off-peak times to best accommodate café owners’ operational needs.
“We understand it’s stressful enough with lockdowns and financial uncertainty, and it’s really tough on a business if they have to get their coffee machine serviced during a busy period,” Natalie says.
She says the COVID-19 pandemic has streamlined the way CWE operates, through adopting a click and collect system and changing the way it dispatches products and fulfils orders to ensure social distancing. In doing so, CWE has continued to meet the rapidly changing volume of demand.
“Rather than having a continual stream of orders, when a lockdown occurs, people become apprehensive, understandably, and often need to reassess how they are going to tackle it, so demand for equipment slows down,” Natalie says.
“But while this happening, people still need their coffee, especially in suburban cafés with more people working from home. Businesses then begin to realise that things are still ticking along, the industry is sustaining itself, and we suddenly see a boom in demand again, which is great, but unpredictable.”
This is where having open communication and trusting industry relationships has been paramount. For CWE, these partners include Italian grinder manufacturer Mazzer and espresso machine manufacturers Wega and Astoria, among others.
“Wega was the first brand CWE acquired in 1998, however, the relationship began long before that, with CWE’s Founder Fabio Cordovado having previously imported Wega to Australia,” Natalie says.
Fabio was a coffee machine technician himself, with CWE a “passion project” born from his determination to venture out and establish his own brand.
“Since day one, the focus of CWE has been about bringing reliable, stable, and quality equipment to the Australian coffee industry,” Natalie says.
“Wega has been there since the beginning and we’ve always felt stable and supported the whole way through. It’s one of those organic relationships with a lot of trust.”
This same feeling resonates with Filippo Nardin, Area Manager of Wega in Italy, with the company attributing its leading presence in Australia to its relationship with CWE.
“CWE has a wonderful understanding of our products and has done a great job of supporting and growing the brand in Australia,” Filippo says. “To have a supplier which understands your products and believes in your products is a priceless partnership.”
In 2018, the partnership was taken to a new level when Wega’s parent company, CMA, contacted CWE asking if the brand wanted to sell its Astoria commercial coffee machines, including its newest addition, the Storm Barista Attitude.
“Astoria’s Storm Barista Attitude really propelled the company back onto the scene and showed consumers what they were capable of,” says Natalie. “CWE was able to provide a platform which brought a different kind of consumer awareness to Astoria and its machines.”
Riccardo Comaron, Brand Manager at Astoria’s Storm Barista Attitude agrees, saying its partnership with CWE has been instrumental in its enhanced brand presence.
“We trust and collaborate with each other a lot, from marketing campaigns to exhibitions, and are continuing to develop new machines so as soon as launches are possible, CWE has products to share with their clients,” he says.
CWE’s partnership with Mazzer began in 2016, when the company took its next step expanding geographically, acquiring Coffee Machine Services (CMS) and with it, the contract to distribute grinders from the Italian manufacturer.
Luca Maccatrozzo, Sales Director of Mazzer, says after CWE acquired CMS, Fabio visited the company’s headquarters in Venice in 2017.
“CMS Owner and Founder Massimo Ubertini said to me, ‘with Fabio, siete nelle migliori mani possibile’, which means ‘you are in the best hands possible.’ This really has been true,” says Luca. “Our relationship with any member of the CWE team is excellent, and they are all very dedicated and professional.”
Throughout COVID-19, Luca says Mazzer has still strived to produce creative products, launching its revamped Super Jolly V Pro grinder in 2021.
“Through the years, CWE has always responded and supported us in the best way possible when introducing our grinders to the Australian market,” says Luca.
Natalie adds that an important part of how CWE supports Mazzer, and a reason she enjoys working with the brand, is because of the high value it places on industry engagement.
“Mazzer was searching for feedback on its grinders, and with CWE, 2013 World Barista Champion Pete Licata provided a positive stream of insight on their performance,” Natalie says. “Mazzer are very focused on bettering its products to give Australian baristas what they need in terms of coffee grinding excellence.”
Together, the brands have helped each other evolve. In 2021 when the brands were approached to support the launch of Coffee Commune in Queensland, CWE, Mazzer, and Wega all pulled together to provide equipment for the exciting new coffee education venture. The hub designed as a roasting destination, educational hub, and coffee destination all in one.
A common thread across CWE’s partnerships – with its suppliers and café customers – is two-way communication. Natalie says this has been critical in CWE overcoming logistical challenges, such as closures of shipping ports or global delays of spare parts and machines, throughout the past year and a half.
“We’ve continued to stay on the same page as our suppliers throughout COVID-19, not only for supply and demand, but for events and product launches, especially with some offices shut down or restrictions in place,” says Natalie. “By having open communication, and constantly updating each other on new changes, we were able to ensure our partners always felt cared for, and we have too.”
For Natalie, the coffee industry is built on relationships, and COVID-19 has simply highlighted this.
“It just reflects how important industry relationships are, because you know even during this time when you can’t see each other or go to events together, there’s still such a strong foundation and camaraderie,” she says. “This strong relationship also extends to our consumers. They’ve been so patient, and it’s been fantastic to see how understanding everyone has been.”
For more information, visit www.cwe.com.au
This article appeared in the October 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.