With rising coffee prices and a heightened level of market uncertainty, BeanScene speaks with WKSHOP to understand how the private label roaster helps take businesses to the next level of growth.
The past two years have been challenging for hospitality business owners, facing COVID restrictions, increasing supply chain issues, not to mention rising prices of green bean and freight. Dramatic cost increases are impacting every sector of the industry and more than ever, James Rodger, WKSHOP Director, says businesses are going through a rethink.
“Café operators and roasters have been through a tough season and are questioning what the future looks like. In that reflection, they realise they now need a roasting partner who will walk them through the next season, support them, help maintain profitability, and provide them with a better offer – and that’s where WKSHOP can help them shine,” James says.
WKSHOP Head of Coffee Paul Golding says the main concern operators have is around loss of already thin earnings, and loss of customers if prices are raised to keep pace with the increased costs.
“Business with a long-term view and strong financial organisation expect price fluctuation and can budget accordingly. It’s also important to make consumers aware of the increase in costs. This is no great mystery to the public today, and most people are primed for higher prices at the till. It might not be welcome, but the reasoning is well understood,” Paul says.
WKSHOP’s goal is to use its experience, relationships, and array of procurement and logistics strategies to minimise the increase, and spread it out over time while still offering consistent, high-quality origin coffees and blends to wholesale customers.
“While others might be raising prices or pulling back, we are looking to welcome more wholesale customers and offer blends with plenty of bang for the buck,” Paul says.
“I am always excited around sourcing time. Even in difficult times like these, are opportunities to explore new coffees, find new solutions, and widen our range of offering. This year I have been forced to find novel solutions for problems around shipping, crop shortages and quality issues. I think we are now in a very strong position to offer a range of very exciting blends at prices that will surprise many enquirers.”
New single origins are available each month, with WKSHOP typically exploring lesser-known origins. Special lots will be arriving from Java, Flores, Congo, possibly Hawaii and Yemen, in addition to Brazilian, Colombian, and Kenyan beans.
To curb the supply chain challenges, WKSHOP makes advanced commitments 12 months ahead with key origins, to secure its green bean supply. It also ensures the strength of its relationships with suppliers and cooperatives to guarantee the quality of coffee.
“We’re prepared for any disruptions to transport. By securing coffee contracts and increasing our inventory we can guarantee consistency of coffee supply and quality for our customers,” James says.
Price is one thing, but quality and service are another the market has a high expectation of. As such, James says many people are taking the opportunity to consider the business they want to be. For many, this shift can be daunting, but for WKSHOP, it’s a process it thrives on.
Paul adds that the whole purpose of WKSHOP is to provide a stress-free option for customers, releasing them from an array of niche expertise and operational complexities.
“We specialise in producing the coffee; from green bean sourcing, blend development to roasting, while our customers are free to work on their business rather than in it, giving them the space to maintain a more strategic overview on growth,” he says.
“Working with us can remove so much complexity from the customer’s decision tree and offer certainty of long-term pricing due to our set future positions.”
James says while people have battled through COVID-19, he’s now seeing businesses get back to market, but they need a strategy to help take their business forward.
“At WKSHOP, we’re all about workshopping your business. We love to talk to customers about what their business does, how they’re performing, how we can support them,” he says.
This could include improving a customer’s roasted coffee products, assisting with packaging needs, machinery equipment, technical support, marketing strategies, business training, coffee training through the WKSHOP Training Academy online, social media support, even how to manage costs of goods.
“We have tools that we have developed that help customers manage their costs in relation to coffee,” James says. “We’re here supporting the industry through significant change.”
Nic Naso, WKSHOP National Sales Manager says more than 80 per cent of WKSHOP customers utilise the business’s multi-touchpoints of resources as a means to improve and grow their business.
“As people spend more time with us, they learn what we offer, see the value for their business, and tap into it,” Nic says.
WKSHOP’s online training portal is one tool that has accelerated throughout lockdown when site-visits weren’t permitted. It became a staple in training baristas and hospitality staff remotely, and staff in general, to the point that it’s become an induction program for café and franchise groups to access without paying for separate training at an external site.
“It takes you through all aspects of coffee: coffee fundamentals, coffee sourcing and roasting processes, how to get the best from your equipment, comprehensive levels of barista training, and even different brewing methods, cupping sessions, and advice on how to train your palate. It really has been a way to share our knowledge and skills,” Nic says.
“During the lockdown season we’ve learned to be more flexible in our remote training. It’s the reason we’ve invested significant time and resource to make sure it’s accessible.”
The WKSHOP team have achieved close to 20 years in specialty coffee. As an industry resource, Nic says the private label roaster is happy to share its knowledge and be a reliable partner that gives real solutions to drive a business forward.
“WKSHOP is a one-stop-consultant of coffee-related services. Our team essentially becomes an extension of our customer’s business. Our sales team help grow our café and wholesale accounts and increase their brand awareness. Our training facilities, cupping rooms, WKSHOP space and team expertise in roasting and selling is at their dispose, including access to our Head Roaster and Head of Coffee to talk through sourcing, roasting and profiles. What’s ours is yours,” Nic says.
“We work with our customers in true partnership to provide a fresh perspective and approach to their business. We want them to be sustainable so they can keep growing and succeeding, whether they’re a small or large café doing 100 kilograms to one-tonne of coffee per week, a franchise, multi-site business, or a new venture looking to grow and expand their offering with private label roasting.”
What wholesale customers want in today’s environment, James adds, is reliability that removes the risks, pressures, and variables many businesses fear.
“People are apprehensive about what’s going on in the market. They need stability and certainty in their workplace and business, and we want to utilise our experienced team to help manage those goals and expectations. That’s the point – we want to workshop your business and help you on your coffee journey,” he says.
“At the end of the day, Australians are seeking community, and the hospitality industry is at the centre of that. It’s not going to be an easy year, but people will be looking for opportunities to create memorable experiences with family and friends, and will seek out cafés that have the best environment, a fantastic product, and a team that knows customer service well.
“We want our wholesale customers to be excited about the future and getting back to what they love, and that’s delivering customers with a great coffee experience.”
For more information, visit the WKSHOP website or call 1800 849 335
This article appears in the April 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.