Tom Saxon of Batch Coffee explains how a trip to Australia inspired his coffee subscription service and why the Covid-19 pandemic has helped his business.
Tell us about Batch Coffee?
Batch Coffee was founded in 2019 as a coffee blog that reviewed specialty coffee throughout the UK and Ireland. After a while Batch coffee evolved into a biweekly coffee subscription box that showcases two of the best coffees that have been reviewed by our coffee experts. We are purely an online company with our headquarters in South Cheshire.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
After starting a career as an accountant after finishing University I soon became bored of the strip lights and excessive screen time so I decided to seek a little inspiration travelling. I spent a year in Vietnam teaching English before heading to Australia. After a short spell working on farms, I fell in love with the coffee culture in Sydney and took a job as a barista. Here, I learned everything I needed to know about specialty coffee and found my passion. I left Australia after four years in Sydney and spent a year travelling around the coffee regions of Central and South America, visiting and working on coffee farms to understand the origins of coffee. Returning to the UK I jumped straight back into the coffee scene and began roasting coffee for a Manchester-based roastery, with a view to finding out what the UK is missing in their specialty coffee scene, which turned out to be Batch.
I wanted to create a specialty coffee brand, and after nearly purchasing a coffee roaster, I found that there was nobody reviewing or writing about the amazing coffees we have in the UK. We are still fairly new to the specialty coffee scene in the UK and our coffee culture is still finding its way compared to many other countries. I started buying as many coffees as I could and reviewing them hoping to create relationships with some of the UK’s best independent coffee roasters.
What is your point of difference?
We are a team of coffee professionals that taste and review the coffee before we include it in our coffee box. We showcase independent coffee roasters that not only produce some of the highest quality coffee in the world but also take the environmental and social issues in coffee seriously.
How do you spread the word about your business?
We use various methods to spread the word about Batch, from socials to PPC ads through to partnerships with coffee publications.
How has business been during the Covid-19 pandemic?
As the pandemic started, home-brewing coffee exploded as coffee shops closed. We saw an increase in sales for the first few months. This has been the case throughout really, as waves of closures hit the country, we experienced more customers. I think in general people are starting to now appreciate home brewing and more people have invested in home espresso machines.
What’s the hardest thing about running a business?
To start with, when it was just me, it was hard to know whether I was doing the right thing and if all of my effort was going to go to waste. However, persistence is always the key to any problem and the wealth of knowledge I gained during the first year of business is invaluable.
What’s the best decision you’ve made so far?
To offload much of the day-to-day running of the business like admin and fulfillment and also dispatching the coffee once every two weeks. It’s easy to get caught up in the operational side of the business when it’s young however the most important part is trying to grow the business and essentially marketing in whichever form that may be. I’m now able to spend around 80% of my time growing Batch.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Packaging has been a total nightmare throughout. There is an impossible balancing act of environmentally friendly packaging, style and cost. I feel like we have just nailed the packaging a year on, however, there are always tweaks to be made.
Would you do anything differently?
I think trying to do it all when I first started out was a little bit of a mistake. It not only meant that I was working every waking hour but the quality of work was probably not my best as it was spread too thin. If I was going to do it again, I would outsource a lot more and take on help sooner than I did.
What is one thing that would make running your business a lot easier?
I think the human connection factor that has been absent during the pandemic will certainly make running the business easier going forward. Having worked in hospitality for many years, I have always loved creating connections and relationships with customers. I think being able to visit the amazing people behind the coffee roasters will enable us to tell their story even better.
What’s next for your business?
We are looking at a decaf option for our coffee box. We are also adding a quiz section to the signup process to enable us to send our customers specific coffees according to their taste. One size doesn’t fit all in specialty coffee.
Made in Britain: Online coffee brand, Batch Coffee UK