One of the most effective ways for roasters to market their brand and find new customers is by attending trade shows and coffee events. Additionally, markets and trade shows are an opportunity for roasters to learn from other industry professionals and improve their business operations.
That said, these events can be a costly project. For instance, roasters must not only pay for their booth upfront but also prepare a variety of marketing materials for the event. Beyond this, roasters must ensure they have enough stock for each day of the show and fulfil day-to-day orders without disrupting the business.
To learn more about what roasters should consider before attending coffee events, I spoke to Harry Davis, owner of Character Coffee Roasters.
Coffee events: How do roasters benefit?
It is important to remember the investment needed to attend or participate in these events can pay off in the long run. By attending, roasters have the chance to reach new customers, network, and discover new wholesale opportunities.
Brands such as Oatly and Minor Figures have been known to attend large coffee festivals. Often, these brands have a pop-up stand to help increase brand awareness by offering attendees oat milk-based beverages. Similarly, coffee roasters are investing in pop-up booths or trailers in order to widen their target market.
Over the summer, Character Coffee Roasters, based in the Midlands, UK, attended several events across the country. “It’s been a mix of results: some events have been incredibly busy and we’ve sold over 800 cups of coffee in a day,” Harry explains.
He admits some events have been a bit slow, particularly when several vendors are competing in a small event space.
“One of the best parts of attending events is that we get to see visitors enjoy the coffee we’ve roasted. These events give attendees a new perspective on the coffee industry. It often leads to them engaging with us on social media, and later becoming a customer,” Harry adds.
Considering the flip side
It is essential that roasters research the events, markets, or trade shows they want to attend. If the event has low footfall, a roaster’s time and money may be better spent. Beyond this, some event hosts may have specific requirements for those who attend or participate.
“We sometimes have to pay a large cut of our gross sales to the event company which can threaten our profitability. This is why traders often have to raise their prices. To combat this, we focus on producing a great quality product with a workflow that cuts down wait times and allows us to offer great customer service. This often means we can turn a profit despite any competition at events,” Harry adds.
What to consider when choosing which events to attend
When deciding which events are worthwhile, there are several factors Harry considers. These include:
- The number of coffee traders attending
- The cost of the event and whether the hosts require a percentage of total sales
- The expected number of guests attending and their demographic
- Ways to convert contacts and sales into regular customers
- How the company can staff the event
For instance, Character Coffee Roasters has found a highly effective solution for staffing events across the country. The brand uses Baristas On Tap: a mobile app that allows reliable freelance baristas to advertise their services for businesses that are short-staffed. The app also pays these baristas directly, which means the roaster does not have to adjust payroll.
While some events may have lower foot traffic, attendees are likely looking for affordable local produce. These consumers are also more conscious of the products they’re investing in. Therefore, these events can benefit roasters who are entering the market. Roasters can offer samples of filter coffee, allowing attendees to try the product before they buy, helping to create a loyal, local customer base.
The importance of local coffee events
Attending local showcases and trade events can also hold multiple benefits for roasters. Some governments and local councils have incentives to help small businesses grow. This encourages job creation and money flows into the community.
For example, Cribbyn Coffee based in Brecon, Wales, recently attended the Brecon Country Show, hosted by the Brecknock Agricultural Society. The annual event showcases various producers from across the region, and this year, hosted King Charles and Queen Camilla.
Another example is the Royal Welsh Show. For this year’s event, Jenipher’s Coffi, a small, Ugandan-focused company developed a programme for growing businesses to meet directly with purchasers of larger companies, such as supermarkets and retailers. As a result, many have secured contracts, including Ferrari’s Coffee, which now exports to large, overseas retailers.
Director of Ferrari’s Coffee, Yash Dhutia, explains: “Being able to attend these events allowed us to meet buyers that have given us the orders needed to grow our team,” he says. “Additionally, we’ve been able to invest in more machinery and source our coffee on a larger scale, directly from producers.”
By attending the right events, roasters could see growth in revenue, brand awareness, and business opportunities. Roasters should reach out to local councils to investigate what events are available and determine how they could benefit the business.
While it is admirable that roasters pour their focus on delivering the best experience to customers, it is essential for them to explore what is happening across the industry. An effective and fun way to do so is by attending coffee events, as these are the best places to spot new trends, be inspired, and build connections.
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At the same time, reading articles is a great way to stay updated on the specialty coffee market. The MTPak Coffee Education Centre covers a vast range of topics, from sector trends and sustainability to roasting and packaging. We are dedicated to educating those who work in the coffee industry so that it can continue to be successful and thrive in the future.
In addition, we offer a selection of sustainable coffee bags for specialty coffee roasters. Our coffee pouches are made from recyclable, biodegradable and compostable materials, such as rice paper and kraft paper.
To help meet all your business needs, our packaging options are fully customisable from the shape of the pouch to the design and additional components, including degassing valves and resealable zippers.