Exploring the potential of private label coffee services

Tori Taylor
September 12, 2023
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Many assume that all coffee roasters roast, manufacture, and package their own coffee products. However, this isn’t always true. Occasionally, they will partner with a private label coffee supplier: someone who will work behind the scenes to supply, process, and brand coffee products on their behalf.

Offering private label coffee services offers several benefits. For instance, it allows roasters to use their workforce, infrastructure, and equipment to create additional products. This can help maximise profits without requiring a major capital investment.

Additionally, as roasters can implement a minimum order size, they are able to guarantee a certain sales volume at regular intervals.

To learn more about the benefits of private label coffee services, I spoke with Ben Ferrão and James Boatfield-Thorley, the founders of Repetition Coffee in the UK.

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Catering to coffee events: Repetition fills a gap in the market

Having been friends for over 10 years, Ben and James became business partners in 2021, founding a private-label events business that specialises in bespoke coffee solutions.

“James and I had both worked in coffee events before, mostly for Allpress Espresso,” Ben explains. The duo were asked by a friend to “caffeinate a CrossFit competition in Manchester. That was our first taste of entrepreneurship, and we haven’t looked back since.

“We saw a real opportunity for high-quality, bespoke coffee offerings at events, a gap that wasn’t being catered to,” Ben adds. Now, Repetition works with a broad range of clients to deliver quality beverage services for events, including pop-ups, brand activations, and private parties.

“We pride ourselves on making each situation or event work,” Ben says. He adds that the pair have made espresso in a wide range of environments, ranging from storeroom cupboards to backstage at the 02. When the brand launched, its focus was catering to health and fitness events, specifically CrossFit, where caffeinating is closely linked to performance.

Notably, Ben explains the brand name ‘Repetition’ was created based on the ability to consistently produce a high-quality coffee combined with the reps of a CrossFit athlete. “We’ve since expanded into broader events around health, skincare, wellness, arts and culture, fashion, and many more.”

Beyond this, Repetition has expanded to offer bespoke “private-label” coffee production for brands and businesses, as James and Ben take their solution-based service into physical products.

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Understanding private label coffee

Found in a range of industries, from food to cosmetics, private label goods are those that have been manufactured by one company for sale under another company’s brand. The retailer can request specific alterations to the products to suit their needs and appeal to their customers.

The benefits of private labelling for both retailers and manufacturers have made them increasingly popular in recent years. A survey of over 2,000 US consumers found 20% had purchased more private label products during the Covid-19 pandemic than they did before. The reasons stated were low price and high availability.

One of the most popular private label goods is coffee. Offered by supermarkets, coffee chains, celebrities, and even YouTubers, it’s become an effective and relatively low-cost part of brands’ marketing strategies.

That said, through their research, Ben and James found a lack of high-quality production partners available to assist with private and white-labelling, contingency plans, contract coffee roasting, and third-party logistics (3PL) within the UK.

Repetition was designed to be the solution. “Repetition is a ‘brandless’ entity,” Ben explains. “It does not, nor will it ever, produce its own product. As such, we’re not a competitor to clients and can service any café, roaster, or independent business without a conflict of interest.

“This is pretty unique within the space, and allows us to fully focus on our customers’ needs, whether at events or producing products,” he adds. Repetition is experienced in sourcing, roasting, and blend-matching coffees to create bespoke products that highlight the clients’ brand.

“From our time in the industry, we understand the unique nature of each coffee business, and we appreciate that each entity maintains a distinct blend of vision and values, alongside a specific target audience,” Ben says. “Our goal is to help each brand or business achieve their ideal product.”

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Is private label coffee sustainable?

The growing prominence of the private label coffee market makes sustainability an increasingly important question for roasters and retailers alike. So what can they do?

James explains that Repetition is committed to transparency, along the full length of the coffee supply chain. “We understand it remains to be a challenge that requires careful purchasing decisions, specifically at the source.

“In our opinion, a more conscious consumer mind set is driving this aspect of the industry in the right direction,” he adds. “We aim to be as proactive as possible in this endeavour, and we only work with reputable partners that have fully visible supply chains.”

When it comes to communicating this, James and Ben ensure they educate themselves on what each supplier offers in the way of transparency. “Then it’s up to us to ask the right questions and identify solutions we can implement within our own practices before communicating to the wider world.”

“Building a positive reputation, whether for events or production, takes time, so being patient and as high-touch as possible has been really key for us,” James explains. The brand uses sustainable materials whenever possible, particularly when catering to events.

“There is still a lot of work to be done in this space, so I like to keep a close eye on sustainable material development,” James adds. “A material is only as good as our ability to dispose of it. One thing for sure is that a move towards more sustainable packaging is here to stay and I’m excited to see how good it can get.”

At MTPak Coffee, we offer a range of low minimum order quantity (MOQ) stock bags for specialty roasters looking to offer private or white label coffee. Our plain stock bags are the perfect option for those after a simple yet effective way of packaging their coffee, ready for distribution.

Plus, they’re available in 8 unique colours and can be designed to feature a ziplock seal and recyclable degassing valve.

Article body images from Repetition Coffee

For more information on our sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team here.

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