The Scale Up

Kopi Luwak's taste of success

Posted by:
Jodie Fardoe

30 Sep 2020

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.

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.

- Owen Carter

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.

Currently the US accounts for around 60% of all our sales, and since we launched our eCommerce Shopify store, this trend has grown.

- Owen Carter

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.

Have you seen demand outside of the UK for this type of product?

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.

How are you keeping up with that demand and what platforms have helped?

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.

To improve this, we decided 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.

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 business partnerships, to ensure we can continue to meet this increase in demand. We also hope to offer our products to an ever wider international range of customers.

James and James Fulfilment

It all began in 2010, when James Hyde and James Strachan couldn’t find a modern shipping service for the eCommerce business they ran. Faced with messy warehouses based on out-dated systems, they decided to build their own.

We’ve not stood still since, helping hundreds of online brands scale up – and scaling with them.