Coffee Planet operate the largest bean roastery in the UAE and their own retail outlets. Here we talk to Jamie Brown, Coffee Planet’s MD, about the company’s business model and plans for the future in an exclusive interview.
Coffee Planet operates the largest bean roastery in the UAE and produces a range of coffee products. The company has also expanded into the retail space through a series of cafes and outlets. Operating along ethical lines, the company imports beans from over 20 countries and has plans to expand across the region. While the pandemic has posed problems, the company is in fine shape and is moving forward, according to Jamie Brown, the business’ Managing Director. Here we sit with Brown to discover how Coffee Planet operates, the impact the pandemic had on the business and their plans for the future.
Can you tell me a little about your business?
Coffee Planet is a prime example of a homegrown success story, launching in 2005 with a stark mission to make quality coffee accessible in the region. Fast forward to the present day, we source green beans from over 20 countries with the biggest roastery in the UAE, producing coffee beans, ground coffee as well as biodegradable capsules. Venturing into other industries we are the leading supplier of coffee to 5 star hotels, airlines and offices across the Middle East and beyond.
In 2021 Coffee Planet became part of the coffee community with franchise partner DASH Hospitality, opening a number of stylish cafes within up and coming neighborhoods, including JVC and most recently Dubai Hills Business Park and Dubai Hills Mall.
We are strongly committed to the coffee industry as a whole with a growing focus on sustainability and an unwavering commitment to excellence, ensuring customers always receive the highest quality coffee they have come to know and expect.
What do you consider to be your unique selling points, or your strengths?
Establishing our own roastery, the largest in the region, was a huge turning point. It’s a fundamental stage of the journey to cup and therefore we guarantee freshly roasted coffee and full control over our signature blends and single origin coffee. We source our beans from over 20 countries in order to bring the best quality from across the globe to our consumers.
What’s unique about Coffee Planet is we offer a one stop solution for all your coffee needs to create a better coffee experience. Covering a range of equipment from machines and top brewing gadgets to our own signature blends, whole beans, ground coffee, single origins and capsules, depending on preference.
Can you explain your business model?
We have a 360-degree approach to coffee solutions with an integrated view of B2B and B2C, offering bespoke solutions to all types of HORECA businesses. Adapting where necessary to consumers with a range of market-leading coffee equipment, an outstanding range of coffee-related consumables, and importantly – supporting clients with full training, service experience, maintaining and functioning of equipment, via a dedicated team of qualified and passionate coffee professionals.
We’ve grown a loyal fan base over the years offering the best coffee in the UAE, with a variety of flavors and taste profiles, meticulously roasted here. People have come to expect exceptional coffee from us with the highest grade 90+ SCA scale single origin. Venturing into cafe real estate was a natural progression for us.
Can you tell me about the ethics of your business? – I’ve seen your company described as using “ethically-sourced beans”.
Coffee Planet is changing the face of the industry, practicing ethical sourcing, the relationship with the coffee farmers is mutually beneficial and environmentally friendly. Our Signature Organic Whole Bean is the only UTZ certified roast in the region, which guarantees responsibly sourced beans from the coffee farmers to the environment.
Is sustainability an important factor in your work? I see you use bio-degradable capsules.
Certainly, sustainability is at the forefront of our operations, we introduced 100% biodegradable and compostable capsules, filled with the same specialty grade, arabica ground coffee. We also collaborate with The Waste Lab and the Anantara Hotel to recycle capsule waste.
Coffee Planet is collaborating with The Waste Lab for zero waste solutions at all outposts and to promote eco-friendly behavior. The idea is to create a circular economy giving back to the soil and creating local resources. Furthermore, to ensure minimal waste we have partnered with Bean & Beyond – each week coffee remains are collected from the roastery and used to harvest the growth of Oyster mushrooms in the region.
Can you tell me about your dealings in Africa? Who do you work with? What countries do you operate in?
We source our coffee beans from various African countries, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania, working with farms and cooperatives directly, and [we ensure the] complete traceability of the product.
Coffee Planet also partnered with Nia, celebrating female farmers with exquisite Ethiopian coffee. Supporting women farmers in emerging countries by directly sourcing from their farms and building mutually beneficial, long term relationships [is important to us].
How has / did the pandemic impact on your business?
There’s no denying that Covid-19 had an effect on our business. With disrupted supply chains and rising costs of raw materials, sourcing coffee during the pandemic presented roadblocks whilst the demand for coffee remained.
Naturally out of home coffee consumption lowered, much of our commerce wholesale of roasted coffee to hospitality businesses such as offices, hotels and airlines dropped while they were put on hold. Limited to brewing at home we saw a rise in consumers investing in high quality products, with people working from home, or having time to brew their own coffee and this continued with flexible working. Once regulations were lifted, businesses wanted to hit the road hard and the demand for B2B coffee was high.
You source from over 20 countries, according to your site, explain why, how are the beans different.
The short answer is that each bean from different countries offers different coffee profiles, notes, varietals, processes, and species to create blends or to use as a single origin.
Some of our beans we source from Brazil – Arabica and Robusta – as the biggest coffee producing country, which is preferred because of its low acidity and high sweetness. Colombia – Arabica is just behind Brazil in terms of volume, it’s a key coffee due to its body and tasting characteristics. Indonesia – Robusta and Arabica as the fourth place in coffee production, has very distinct coffees and is sought after for its earth notes and full body. India – Arabica and Robusta, the much renowned coffee beans grown in the south region of the country are known for their soft taste and high levels of acidity. Ethiopia – Arabica has prized coffee trees that yield delicious coffee with floral and citrus notes. These are just a few of the origins we roast in our roastery.
What, if any, factors are holding back your business? How are you surmounting them?
Like a lot of businesses we incur additional costs due to rising fuel prices, for the time being we absorb rather than increase our prices. Equally the export and import legalities in certain parts of the world, rising operational costs and commodity pricing for coffee beans has the largest impact.
Transporting green beans is a complex process, with so many variables from coordinating harvesting, to preventing contamination and increased competition for space, especially with the influx post-Covid 19. We are starting to see this plateau to pre pandemic levels.
What are your plans for the future?
With big plans in the pipeline for expanding into other markets in the Middle East and Africa and coffee shops in partnership with potential partners, our aim is that everyone experiences our specialty coffee.
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