Singaporeans really love their coffee. Whether it is the yuppie with a Starbucks card, or the retiree with a Kopi-Kosong (a Hokkien term for “black coffee”), the appeal of this aromatic hot brew — in all its variations — cuts across all generations and demographic. Recent years have also seen artisan cafes serving specialised brews pop up (there is even a coffee festival now!), riding on coattails of similar trends in the US, London and Australia.
Spring time has come for the niche coffee market.
Regular readers would know what usually happens next in a story like this — and you guessed right: An enterprising team wants to cruise on this wave using tech.
Singapore-based startup Cafebond wants to bring specialty coffee beans from renowned coffee markets to local shores as well as other parts of Asia. Co-founders Keyis Ng and Eugene Chen were inspired to build this venture after a trip to Melbourne (To be precise: the inspiration hit them like a potent double espresso shot after they tasted coffee at a cafe called “ST. ALi”).
“Melbourne is leading the global charge in specialty coffee. The city has over 2,000 small and independent coffee roasters. The New York Times even reported last year about the global invasion of Australian-style cafes reaching as far as London, Paris, and Singapore,” says Ng, in an interview with e27.
A marketplace for coffee beans
Cafebond’s e-commerce marketplace, launched a little over three months ago, serves over 100 variety of coffee beans from 14 of Melbourne’s most renowned coffee houses and a Canberra coffee cafe Ona Coffee –helmed by World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic.
Fun fact: Ona Coffee pioneered an initiative called Project Origin, which aims to source for new and undiscovered coffee beans globally. It also claims to use a smarter software and roasting equipment to produce more interesting brews.
In addition, Cafebond intends to import coffee beans from Tokyo.
“Traditionally, buying specialty coffee beans has been an offline process, where you have to go to the store and pick up your own bag of beans. Within the offline model, there is also the inconvenience of a limited variety of coffees, especially within Asia. We are providing a web and mobile platform that connects coffee lovers with the best coffee brands in the world,” says Ng.
Customers will also be able to choose the roast type and grind size, and all coffee beans are roast-to-order.
To date, Cafebond claims to have over served over 1,000 customers. It also has launched a corporate package plan.
“We have identified a large demand from corporate customers. This has led to the launch of Cafebond for Offices programme with the Australian High Commission of Singapore and The Co., a popular coworking space, as our first clients,” says Ng.
During its initial product development phase, Cafebond received S$250,000 (US$185,500) pre-seed investment in December 2015 in a round led by Quest Ventures (who also invested in Carousell and 99.co) and other angel investors.
Cafebond will be exploring partnerships with local cafes and has already secured its first client in Singapore: Dutch Colony Coffee. It also has plans to launch in Malaysia in 2016 and China in the near future.
So, for coffee lovers looking to shake up their early morning fix, Cafebond may provide some interesting choices.
Image Credit: Cafebond