It’s Europe’s greatest coffee gathering and one of the biggest events on the planet that celebrates the glorious brew. World of Coffee 2015 drew thousands of professionals and enthusiasts to Gothenburg, including a team from DR Wakefield.
Coffee traders Will Hobby, Priscilla Daniel and Mantvydas Trainavicius (MT to us) packed their bags and jetted out to Sweden to be among 1,000 exhibitors at the event organised by the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE), which represents members in more than 90 countries worldwide. World of Coffee is a big deal – five thousand people were present on site and nearly 44,000 viewers streamed it live online. DR Wakefield always attends.
“We have a range of clients from tiny micro roasters who are roasting less than ten bags a week, up to big multinational roasters who are roasting a hundred bags an hour,” explains Will, fresh back from the trip. “We bridge the gap at these events because they are frequented by everyone from baristas in coffee shops, who are incredibly enthusiastic about coffee, to startup businesses who are new in the industry and the commercial buyers for the big corporations. For us it’s a great way of demonstrating to all of them that we are around and we have access to coffees and the producers that they want to buy from.”
There’s nothing like catching up over a good cup of coffee, of course, and the DR Wakefield traders (with close to 200 coffees on offer at any time) had plenty of variety for visitors to sample. It was a chance too for those dropping by the company’s stand to pick up some top tips on coffee cupping, the practice of observing tastes and aromas. “It’s a good way to interact and chat about their needs and how we can help,” says Will. “Coffee buyers know plenty about cupping, but it’s interesting for them to taste something they wouldn’t normally get. Some buyers stick to the same coffees all the time and are not really interested in looking at other coffees. At these sessions you can throw different coffees at them and they find that they like them. It opens up people’s minds a bit.”
Keeping an ear to the ground, Will says he picked up on a shift in thinking among the bigger coffee businesses. “The larger roasters, those who have quite a dominant market share, are finally learning that they need to change their business model if they want to survive,” he remarks. “Certainly over the last few years we have seen the rise in micro or specialty roasters. All of a sudden you take 400 roasters roasting small amounts and they actually add up to quite a substantial amount. The big roasters who were traditionally commodity-based companies using commercial grades are now starting to wake up and take note and realise that if they are going to survive or continue to grow, they’re going to have to start developing a specialty part of their business. They are now all looking at how to differentiate themselves, how to develop a specialty arm of their business and break into this barista-trendy-hipster market.”
With a huge global presence at the three day, mid-June gathering, it was an opportunity for DR Wakefield to get to know some fresh faces in Europe and also in Asia, which is a target market due to the growth in popularity of coffee there. “In terms of volumes of clients, the UK is becoming a little saturated,” reflects Will. “We met a lot of potential clients in new areas who expand into Europe quite readily and we have got some new contacts in different parts of Europe. Asian countries specifically love to emulate the West, so a lot of specialty roasters come to these events just to see what’s going on and see who’s doing what, so for us it’s a good way of reaching into Asia as well.”
It wasn’t all hard work for the DR Wakefield team. “The opening night was quite interesting,” says Will. “It was in a theme park, so we all went on roller coasters.” Not drinking coffee at the same time, surely? “No, no,” he adds. “Once darkness falls it’s pretty much beer.”