Brand Spotlight: Kopi Luwak’s taste of success

The backstory – THE KOPI LUWAK COMPANy

The Kopi Luwak Company is a small coffee company based in Bristol, UK. Its primary product is a niche, luxury coffee imported from Indonesia, called Kopi Luwak. These ethically-sourced coffee beans have been picked and eaten whole by wild Asian Palm Civets – an incredibly fussy viverrid native to South and Southeast Asia. They only like the juiciest, ripest and freshest coffee beans. Quite the coffee connoisseur!

These beans are consumed by the Civet and passed through whole, then collected, thoroughly cleaned and roasted, resulting in an incredibly rich, luxurious cup of coffee. It’s a labour-intensive process to source and collect these beans, and for that reason, Kopi Luwak is considered the world’s most expensive coffee.

The backstory – Kopi Luwak

The Kopi Luwak Company is a small coffee company based in Bristol, UK. Its primary product is a niche, luxury coffee imported from Indonesia, called Kopi Luwak. These ethically-sourced coffee beans have been picked and eaten whole by wild Asian Palm Civets – an incredibly fussy viverrid native to South and Southeast Asia. They only like the juiciest, ripest and freshest coffee beans. Quite the coffee connoisseur!

These beans are consumed by the Civet and passed through whole, then collected, thoroughly cleaned and roasted, resulting in an incredibly rich, luxurious cup of coffee. It’s a labour-intensive process to source and collect these beans, and for that reason, Kopi Luwak is considered the world’s most expensive coffee.

Kopi Luwak Co. has a fascinating and most unique production story that’s for sure. Tell us, what’s your brand mission?

In a sentence, The Kopi Luwak Company’s aim is to bring this exclusive experience to coffee lovers all around the world. 

To achieve this, we offer whole bean, ground coffee and Nespresso® Kopi Luwak coffee capsules and pods. All of these are made from the same top quality Kopi Luwak sourced ethically in Indonesia.

Shangri-La Coffee™ is our super-premium black and gold packaging, ideal for the discerning coffee connoisseur. Monkey Business Coffee™ is a fun and playful take on the origin of the coffee – a fantastic gift option for a coffee lover with a sense of humour. And then there’s our Kopi Luwak premium coffee in Nespresso® compatible capsules and pods. Great for those who love the convenience of their Nespresso® coffee machine.

You could say there’s quite a coffee buzz with numerous trends circulating, from cold brews and ‘buttered, bulletproof coffee’, to coffee mocktails and sustainably grown. How do you make sure Kopi Luwak Co. stands out in the sector?

We believe that our unique and rare Kopi Luwak coffee is as much an experience of Indonesia as it is a cup of coffee. Many people travel to Indonesia to experience Kopi Luwak in its native environment. We take that experience and deliver it in a delicious and luxurious bag of coffee to indulge in without leaving the comfort of your own home.

We find that this type of very expensive and luxurious coffee is usually purchased as a one-off experience or an amazing gift for a coffee lover to experience, rather than a regular daily coffee. Our small 50g bag is our most popular and affordable, allowing anyone to experience this incredible coffee at an achievable price point.

We’ve found this market to be growing continuously as word of mouth spreads, and we feel given the current climate, the inability to visit the native homelands of this coffee in Indonesia, will mean people seek out the delights of being able to enjoy it from home.

Your brand’s shopping website mentions that these coffee products are ‘ethically sourced and selected by wild, free-living Asian Palm Civets’. Could you shed some light on your commitment to animal welfare and how you maintain an ethical supply chain? 

We import our coffee from wild, ethically-produced Kopi Luwak plantations in Indonesia to our business premises in Bristol. ‘Ethically-produced’ means that we have a strict and independently verified commitment from the plantations that all Kopi Luwak coffee is foraged from the natural environment of the Asian Palm Civets, who do the picking and eating of our Kopi Luwak coffee beans.

This commitment results in the protection of this beautiful species, supporting local jobs in Indonesia and ensures our Kopi Luwak coffee is the most delicious available.

How did you go about selecting your suppliers to make sure they followed ethical practices?

We actually travelled to Indonesia originally to meet with wild sourced Kopi Luwak plantations, ensuring they followed the agreed ethical standards and that all our received Kopi Luwak is sourced only from wild Asian Palm Civets. We also work with local agents and contacts within the Indonesian coffee industry to ensure these commitments are continually abided by.

You’ve outsourced fulfilment of your online orders in both the UK and US. What growth have you seen stateside compared to this side of the pond? 

We’ve already achieved great success in the US and aim to be the leading provider of Kopi Luwak stateside. Being a country of around 330m people and huge coffee fans, it was always a core pillar of our sales strategy to ensure that we had a presence in the US market.

Currently the US accounts for around 60% of all our sales, and since we launched our eCommerce Shopify store, this trend has grown. We are planning to expand our range of Kopi Luwak products over the next 12 months. Expanding that offering in the US is going to be key to the continued growth of our business.

Can you pinpoint when and why you decided to outsource your fulfilment operations?  

Up until the start of 2020, we were almost exclusively selling on marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay. We used Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) to reach our customers on both of these shopping sites.

Then things changed.

We wanted to deal with our customers directly – not only to provide a more personalised customer experience, but to give us more control over our brand. And so we launched our own Shopify-based eCommerce website.

At that time we were still using FBA to fulfil these web orders, but we soon came to realise that this wasn’t providing the best customer experience we’d hoped for. As we had no control over packaging or branding, customers were receiving our coffee products in Amazon boxes, and they were also experiencing delivery delays which were outside of our control.

We knew the best way to improve this was to use a third-party logistics (3PL) provider to help give us more control over this packaging and delivery experience, without the cost and hassle of trying to bring these processes in-house.

Why did you choose to use Shopify as the brand’s shopping platform?

We’ve found Shopify to be extremely powerful and adaptable, whilst being user friendly and intuitive. The API (application programming interface) integration of Shopify with James and James’s cloud-based fulfilment software was truly seamless. 

As you’ve mentioned James and James’s software, how has your team found using it?

The software is honestly one of – actually the most – impressive aspect of James and James’s service offering. Like any good software, it is powerful and full-featured, whilst being user-friendly and intuitive. 

As a result, our team has been able to get to grips with it incredibly quickly, with minimal fuss. Based on our current experience of using ControlPort, I can’t think of any other specific features we’d need adding that aren’t already integrated. It covers all of the pain points.

What were those particular fulfilment and shipping pain points for you and your business?  

Before we switched to James and James, I spent multiple hours a week, checking over shipped orders, updating tracking details, ensuring orders processed correctly. This directly impacted my ability to focus on the core business and the growth of the business. 

Since outsourcing, I have complete confidence in the system – so much so that I barely need to check in on it. Orders just process in the background with barely any hiccups. When there are issues, it’s usually down to customer typos such as incorrect addresses, rather than issues with the system or process.

I now have the time to focus on making Christmas 2020 a big success. I’ve been freed up to really hone our Q4 strategy which usually accounts for 60-70% of our total annual revenue, so it’s a vitally important time of year for us. 

In light of the current Covid-19 situation, what does the future look like for The Kopi Luwak Company? Do you envisage any challenges or opportunities?

As we are an online eCommerce business, like many other companies in this sector, we have experienced a huge boom in the number of people switching from traditional retail to ordering online.

Since we’ve seen this change in consumer behaviours, we’ve reinvested in marketing, supported by our fulfilment partnership with James and James, to ensure we can meet this increase in demand. We anticipate Q4 and Christmas 2020 will be our biggest yet, and we hope to offer our products to an ever wider international range of customers.

Owen Carter – Director, The Kopi Luwak Company

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