Did you know more than 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world every day? Did you also know those coffee beans come from a coffee berry, which gets discarded immediately after the coffee beans are harvested? As you can imagine, that’s a lot of fruity pulp getting dumped and polluting the waterways of coffee farming countries like Colombia, as well as releasing earth-warming emissions. Camilo Bernal, Adela Romero, and Claudia Munera, Co-Founders of 3 Cousins Foods, Inc., learned about these practices and knew there had to be a better solution. That solution? Taking the organic coffee fruit “waste” and turning it into a fruity, antioxidant-rich beverage that helps protect the environment and generates a new source of income for coffee farmers.
The Other Side of Coffee launched in 2020 with plans to make their debut at the Expo West show, but with the COVID-19 pandemic putting a wrench in this plan, the cousins took to alternative routes to get samples to retail buyers. Bernal, Romero, and Munera were able to leverage RangeMe to get in front of retail buyers, which ultimately led to an exciting purchase order with Grocery Outlet. Read on to learn more about The Other Side of Coffee, how the supplier leverages RangeMe, and their experience with Grocery Outlet, along with some exciting product news!
The Other Side of Coffee–quite literally
The Other Side of Coffee beverage is indeed the other side of coffee. Half of the coffee fruit (the beans) gets turned into warm toasty blends of coffee, while the other half (the fruit exterior) gets upcycled into an antioxidant-rich fruity beverage. The Other Side of Coffee is not coffee, and it’s not tea. It’s more like juice that is both rich in flavor and full of nutrients.
“We work closely with our partner Claudia who is an agro-industrial engineer specializing in coffee, and is also a professor of coffee production methods at an established university in Colombia,” explains Adela Romero, Co-Founder of The Other Side of Coffee. “What she learned while studying the coffee fruit is that the parts that are discarded can be saved, and through a patented process, be preserved and turned into a puree and then concentrated syrup to develop our fruity beverage.”
What’s clear is The Other Side of Coffee is not a competitor to coffee. It is a co-product of coffee. Their beverage contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. It’s sweetened with stevia leaf extract and is only 40 calories per bottle.
Sustainable in more ways than one
Sustainability and responsible decision making are part of The Other Side of Coffee’s core. The brand is on a coffee fruit mission to reduce agriculture waste polluting waterways in coffee-growing regions, minimize the coffee industry’s earth-warming methane emissions, and provide a better life for coffee farmers.
“We are committed to giving back to the communities that help us bring this product to life,” says Camilo Bernal, Co-Founder of The Other Side of Coffee. “Which is why we are giving back two percent of profits to social programs in Colombia’s coffee-growing regions.”
On top of being a fair trade brand, each beverage comes in a reusable glass bottle.
Getting samples in front of buyers
The Other Side of Coffee’s product is unfamiliar regarding ingredients and flavor, so the team needed to figure out how to get samples into the hands of retail buyers and consumers.
“We have a disruptive product,” says Romero. “But it’s different to anything out on the market, so sampling is crucial and has been a challenge throughout the pandemic. A sample is needed to understand the flavor profile of The Other Side of Coffee. A flavor profile that is sweet and fruity.”
This has been a challenge for the supplier as they planned to make their debut at Natural Product Expo West in Anaheim, CA, back in March 2020. After the show was canceled, Bernal decided to lean on their RangeMe account. RangeMe has provided an opportunity for The Other Side of Coffee to get in front of retail buyers and send samples so more and more buyers can get familiar with the flavor of their beverage.
“On top of sending samples to buyers, more respected medical and nutrition organizations are publishing research around the benefits of coffee fruit,” explains Romero. “This is helping us educate consumers and further validate the nutritional claims of The Other Side of Coffee.”
Opening the door to Grocery Outlet and beyond on RangeMe
“RangeMe has been our sampling outlet throughout the pandemic, and it paid off because a buyer from Grocery Outlet reached out that led to closing a deal with them,” says Bernal. Grocery Outlet couldn’t have been a better first retailer to work with because it is lower risk to trial and their shoppers are more willing to purchase something new to try since it is at a lower price point.”
Grocery Outlet was able to try the product and saw a massive opportunity for The Other Side of Coffee in their stores. They placed a purchase order of 4,500 bottles initially, and the partnership only grew from there.
“Not only have we developed a great business relationship with Grocery Outlet, but we also built a great relationship with the buyer who brought in our products,” says Romero. “Now, this retail buyer has moved on to work with a new retailer and is working up a deal to bring our products into their assortment! Their customer base values sustainability which is a great opportunity to grow our following with an even more ideal consumer group.”
The Other Side of Coffee team also emphasized how valuable RangeMe’s resources have been to get in front of the right retailers and educate them on business practices and new opportunities.
“All the resources RangeMe offers have been beneficial to us,” says Bernal. “Through Submissions, we can find new and potential partners, and the sourcing campaigns have been great additional opportunities to submit our brand to retailers outside of our Submissions. We don’t have to wait until the next year to submit to the same retailer multiple times.”
Additionally, Bernal noted, “The integration between ECRM and RangeMe for certain sourcing opportunities have been helpful because all of our information is right there, and we do not need to update or change anything depending on the opportunity. Through these opportunities, we’ve been able to connect with retail buyers from Southeastern Grocers, RiteAid, and more.”
Overcoming obstacles and learning curves
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the industry had to navigate a new way of conducting business. For The Other Side of Coffee, 2020 was supposed to be full of trade shows, samples, and more. When the pandemic hit, they decided to take a step back and evaluate areas they could improve in their business model before reaching out to retailers.
“Through 2020, we hit pause,” says Romero. “We decided to focus on perfecting our pitch, improving our sampling process, and getting certifications for our business like the NMSDC minority certification. We decided to make the most out of this obstacle by doing a lot of learning on a smaller scale so we could expand when the time was right.”
And that time was right around the corner with Grocery Outlet. Once they were ready to work with Grocery Outlet, there was still more learning regarding navigating the purchase order and distribution process.
“This was new for us so we had to get insight into the PO process, how to negotiate, and what delivery and pick up from warehouses looked like,” says Romero. “This was our first real-world experience of working with a major retailer in the areas of finance and logistics. Thankfully Grocery Outlet had a buttoned-up process and was patient with working with a smaller supplier who was ready to learn.”
What’s next for The Other Side of Coffee?
The Other Side of Coffee has many exciting opportunities ahead for them through conversations with retailers they’ve met through RangeMe and ECRM. They are also eyeing RangeMe’s global expansion for when The Other Side of Coffee is ready to work with international retailers. In the meantime, Bernal is staying informed by reading RangeMe articles on international business practices.
On top of exploring new retail opportunities and future growth, they’re expanding their line of The Other Side of Coffee beverages beyond the original flavor. The latest additions to their lineup will include Apple and Citrus.
If you’re interested in sampling The Other Side of Coffee’s coffee fruit beverage, you can find them on RangeMe and at Coffee Fest 2021 in Anaheim, CA.
Are you a brand that takes waste and turns it into an amazing upcycled product? Learn more about certifying this product with Upcycled Food Association on RangeMe here.