Future 50: Wholesale contract for speciality coffee and natural wine company
- Credit: Deryn Corbett
Kofra, a speciality coffee and natural wine company, has secured a major contract to start wholesaling its range of natural wines.
Founded in 2014 by Guatemala-born José De León Guzmán, Kofra began as a speciality coffee roaster with one shop – and has since added another three neighbourhood stores across Norwich.
The company began selling natural wines in 2015 after José was introduced to them on a trip to Antwerp in Belgium. It also sells a range of craft beers, cheese, cured meats and preserves. “We find that people who like good coffee tend to like good wine, good beer and good food,” said Agnese Ida, senior business manager at Kofra.
To date, Kofra has only sold natural wines to customers at its Upper St Giles Street store – but the wholesale contract will see the company sell its wines to other businesses for the first time.
“We're looking to work with like-minded people to curate wine lists for shops, restaurants and other hospitality outlets,” said Agnese.
“We have somebody in the business who's shown a lot of interest in wine, and he's going to be heading the wholesale project. It's great to offer progression within the company, so to give him this opportunity has been really rewarding.”
Natural wines, Agnese explained, are sometimes known as “low intervention wines” because they are only made from grapes and natural yeasts that occur on the vines.
“Our wines are handpicked from small producers, they're organic, and there are no pesticides or additives,” she said. “With commercial wines that you buy from the supermarket, there can be up to 120 different additives in one bottle – things like colourants, flavours, sulphites. They can even include fish bladders, egg yolks, all sorts of nasty things.”
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Agnese said the approach to sourcing is the same as its coffee – ensuring that every producer is paid fairly. She added that the production process is also very similar.
“We are finding that some of the more innovative producers in coffee are now using wine-processing methods,” she explained. “We're getting carbonic-macerated coffees, which is a process that comes from making wine.”
Kofra recently launched its own reusable coffee tins, in order to cut down its use of single-use packaging. Customers who purchase a tin are encouraged to return it to one of Kofra’s shops for a refill – and receive a 10pc discount on refills as an incentive.
“We were working on it for about a year and a half to make sure the tin was right and the coffee would keep well in it, and the response has been overwhelming,” said Agnese. “In a couple of months since we launched, our coffee bag usage has dropped by over 20pc, which is phenomenal.”
The company also has water purification systems fitted to all of its coffee machines. “We also installed one at our Upper St Giles Street store to supply water for customers,” said Agnese. “They can bring in a bottle, we’ll fill it with purified water for free, and they can take it home to make their coffee – instead of going out to buy plastic bottles.”
Last month, José was invited to speak about the importance of branding in speciality coffee at the Producer & Roaster Forum, a two-day event held in Medellin, Colombia. Prior to the event, Kofra spent a week visiting a number of coffee farms and mills in Armenia, Colombia.
“We met up with a lot of producers that we work with,” said Agnese. “It was really nice to meet them in person, give them a hug and congratulate them on the amazing coffee that they sell us.”
For more information, visit www.kofra.co.uk