23 Degrees Roastery
Identifying a gap in Ontario’s coffee market, Toronto-based 23 Degrees Roastery is a specialty-grade, 100 per cent certified fair trade, organic coffee producer that has made its mark after only one year in business.
Beginning in April 2011, the concept behind 23 Degrees Roastery was to develop a local fair trade organic coffee brand, delivered through a full retail strategy. While several other coffee roasters operate within the Greater Toronto Area, a competitive gap existed for a fair trade/organic coffee company capable of supplying retailers.
After one year, 23 Degrees Roastery has secured more than 100 accounts in stores across the Greater Toronto Area, as well as a few wineries that dot the neighbouring Niagara Region. More recently, the company has moved into the food service industry, supplying select cafes and restaurants. Since its humble beginnings, 23 Degrees Roastery has done it all, from the roasting of its coffee beans, to creating its wide selection of tasteful blends, to developing its eye-catching product packaging.
Operating in the Greater Toronto Area, 23 Degrees Roastery has used its location to its advantage in attracting a wide range of customer streams. It is difficult to entice everyday coffee consumers to a new brand, flavour, or blend, yet 23 Degrees Roastery has found success in this often tough area by offering numerous product demos to the public. 23 Degrees Roastery has reached a large consumer base across the Greater Toronto Area in holding more than 100 demos of product samplings in its first year of business. The thinking behind this method is that those who enjoy the sample will then purchase the product.
“Taste testing helps push our product and our brand,” Benjamin Yu, President of 23 Degrees Roastery, told The Canadian Business Journal. “Letting the shelf do the work is not enough. We try to be proactive because it benefits everybody, especially these days because money is tight and consumers are unsure of going with a product they are not familiar with, so we give them a chance to try something new.
“People have to have confidence in the product. The success of the company has been through building relationships with vendors and our staff, as they are on the frontline representing the product, as well as our customer base.”
23 Degrees Roastery prides itself on offering the true taste of coffee, never over-roasting or burning coffee beans. Beginning with five uniquely named blends, 23 Degrees Roastery covers the coffee spectrum. Choices include Sucker Punch, Mug Shot, Morning Star, Liquid Mettle, and Declawed, which offer a range of bold, espresso, chocolate, fruity, and decaffeinated tastes. Notably, 23 Degrees Roastery plans to launch more blends in the future as well, highlighting more flavour profiles covering the coffee palate.
Another local company, Robust Roasters, supplies roasting equipment to 23 Degrees Roastery. Robust Roasters’ excellent customer service proved critical during the initiation of 23 Degrees Roastery. Yu commented, “I can’t say anything better about the exceptional service Peter Trifonidis from Robust Roasters provides.”
In terms of its product packaging, 23 Degrees Roastery chose to market its coffee in packaging with a “hip” look and logo, reflecting the same characteristics that 23 Degrees Roastery embodies. The packaging is unique with a clean look, brought to life by the artistic wit of Tibor Svajko Designs. This, coupled with each of the various blends’ creative names, has proven to be a great selling point. Yu summarized, “We are dedicated to our packaging because it doesn’t matter how good your product is if you don’t have the exposure.”
23 Degrees Roastery has experienced more growth in its first year of operation than originally anticipated. In fact, the company has already upgraded its original coffee roaster, doubled its warehousing space, and relocated its office, reinvesting in itself in order to keep up with demand. 23 Degrees Roastery has witnessed exponential growth in its short history.
“We have already had interest from stores in Montreal that want to carry our product, but we are taking it in stride to ensure that we can support it properly,” Yu said. “The demand might be there, but we have to deal with the supply, and we want to ensure that it is done right.”
The company hopes to extend this growth into the coming years as well. Already listing with Loblaws, 23 Degrees Roastery hopes its product will soon be carried on more and more retailers’ shelves and served in cafes and restaurants. By the end of its second fiscal year, 23 Degrees Roastery also hopes to double its distribution accounts and then expand across the Ontario market in the following year. Further down the road, there are plans for a national expansion of the 23 Degrees Roastery product lineup.