Trumpet Tree Coffee Factory expands
...grows Japanese and local marketWednesday, November 24, 2021
JAMAICAN coffee lovers who find it difficult to brew Blue Mountain roast will find it easier to prepare the delectable beverage with an innovation from Constitution Hill Trumpet Tree Coffee Factory.
That innovation comes in the form of coffee “tea bags”.
Arthur McGowan, CEO of Constitution Hill Trumpet Tree Coffee Factory (Trumpet Tree), says after the company was hit by the closure of hotels last year, it decided to target more of the local coffee-drinking market. However, with Blue Mountain roast being somewhat tedious to prepare, involving percolating and the use of paraphernalia that are missing from many local kitchens, he started research on developing an easier way for it to be prepared.
After research, Trumpet Tree found machinery that could prepare coffee in the form of tea bags which, when steeped in hot water like regular tea bags, delivered the perfect brew and the true taste of Blue Mountain Coffee in all its glory to coffee lovers.
After investing $22 million, including $13 million for machinery, Trumpet Tree is now ready to take on the market. Market testing started in April of this year and full roll-out was executed in November, in partnership with Derrimon Trading Limited.
Arthur McGowan told the Jamaica Observer, “We give thanks for that and for that we say, 'To God be the glory.' ”
Trumpet Tree, the island's third-largest coffee processor, is located in Constitution Hill, St Andrew, and is the home of Riddim Blue – 100 per cent Jamaica Blue Mountain-tapping green bean, produced on the 85-acre farm and also from a network of over 4000 farmers in the Blue Mountain hills, plus 80 staff.
He reflects, “The hotels were our largest market so we had to find ways to present the coffee affordably while creating a product in a convenient way. Most homes have no French press and no percolator. We went ahead and did research on the machinery needed to process and package. We have created a brand new product! It's not instant coffee — it is really grounded coffee which has been put in a filter pack. It is recommended for use once for 12 ounces but people have been using it more than that.”
The CEO says there is now a lot of interest. The company is also setting up a distribution centre in Manhattan, New York, to target all markets now with Betta Coffee, and is adding this distribution point for its other exported product which is Riddim Blue — Blue Mountain Coffee sold in one-pound, half-pound, quarter-pound and two-ounce packages. The two-ounce package makes up to eight cups of coffee.
The company also offers Riddim Blue in K cups. Derrimon trading started distribution of Betta Cup in July 2021.
McGowan reflects, “What COVID did is to move us out of the box. For green bean sales overseas there has been an increase. The company has regrouped on price, taking into consideration that even overseas people have been laid off from work and [have had] their spending power reduced. We came up with boosting production, producing more so we can give customers what they want in terms of pricing and also sell more. We are doing larger quantities with a smaller market.”
Betta Cup sells at around $700 per box of sachets, with retailers adding their own margin.
McGowan believes that the 100 per cent Blue Mountain formula will be a strong selling point. “Most of the other brands on supermarket shelves are not Jamaican coffee. We have come up with a product that all Jamaicans can enjoy. The taste is far better.”
He adds, “We have been getting tremendous feedback. We are building customer awareness about a product which us affordable and every Jamaican can enjoy.
He notes, “The new machinery makes 40 sachets per minute. Within a day we can make thousands of sachets.” For investment spend on marketing, distribution and packaging, the total is now just shy of $22 million.
Seven thousand boxes of green beans, at $7,500 each, have also been reserved for production. The projection on profitability is 24 months. “We expect that in two years the line will become profitable,” McGowan said.
He added, “We will be buying more from farmers to cater to the market. Last year we purchased 25,000 boxes, this year we are looking to double. We have installed a new dryer; we have the whole works — including adequate transport for coffee out of the mountains. One of my goals as well is to ensure that farmers can sell during these rough times.
Total production in the 2021 crop was just shy of 25,000. The company is now ranked third among the largest processors. Mavis Bank Coffee Factory is ranked number two and Coffee Trader number one. Over the last crop year Japanese exports by the company have grown but McGowan says, “Right now we are flying the plane on one engine, which is green bean sales.”
Also, because green bean sales are up the company has been able to keep all its staff and give them a “small raise”.
The CEO said, “Aside from our profitability, our great achievement is to see smiles on peoples faces. Farmers are now getting $7,500 per box. We also give farmers incentives for every 100 boxes, a five per cent bonus in total. Also, if they sell us 200 boxes or more they will receive 10 per cent more on the end price.”
— BY AVIA USTANNY-COLLINDER