White label coffee (Private Label Coffee) is simply coffee roasted by an outsource
roaster that roasts for that client’s coffee needs. In other words, the coffee roaster roasts
the coffee and then sells the coffee to the client. The client puts their company label on
the product. The client is mostly in charge of branding the coffee at this point. This is
quite common in the food service industry. Many Bradenton and Sarasota coffee shops
have adapted to this option. It’s convenient, consistent, and some coffee roasters provide
coffee equipment as well as barista training as a service. There is nothing wrong with
this as long as coffee shops are not taking credit for roasting the beans. This would be
like a coffee roaster taking credit for coffee beans while the farmer who grew them did
most of the work. The vast majority of the coffee production is done through the farmer.
Sadly, most of the time the farmer goes unnoticed of their labor.
There are many positives to the Private Label option as a coffee client. Most important is
time and operation. It is not easy to just pick up a coffee roaster and start roasting. Just
like any profession you need a set of skills and equipment. The equipment isn’t cheap
and there are many hurdles with the operation of roasting. Roasting is not a clean
operation because you are constantly cleaning up beans, storing coffee and cleaning up
coffee chaff. It’s more befitting a warehouse setting, and if you have a coffee shop you
might have the challenge of separating the two functions. Therefore, many coffee shops
and food service businesses will outsource their coffee. It’s an easy way to get your ideal
coffee product and you can merchandise it the way you want it. Some of these coffee
roasters will go as far as creating a logo and designing your bag. White label can create a
unique brand that has a coffee profile that most do not have and gives you a one-of-a-
kind product. We currently work with a few foundations that raise funds through coffee.
For the foundation it allows them to not get too invested in coffee roasting but focus
more on the charity and the cause.
As a coffee roaster it can benefit us because we don’t have to focus on branding their
coffee. Rather, they can focus on roasting specialty coffee and producing a great
product. It allows the roaster to give less attention on the customer service end and more
on the artisan side. Many roasters in that wholesale, don’t roast for the open-public but
rather larger accounts and private labels.
The downside to this private label is the cost. The more options you add to your custom
private label the more expensive it gets. The more people involved in your product the
costs go up. If you’re not putting enough volume of the product out then your margins
won’t be profitable. When we do a pop-up market or coffee event. We get told our cup
of coffee is not expensive. Because we roast our own coffee beans we can deliver coffee
at a good price without jeopardizing the quality of the coffee. Another downside is
quality control. It’s easy to slap a sticker label on the coffee bag that says ‘Gourmet
Coffee.” But where did it come from? Does it have a roast date? Who roasted it? Not
knowing all the information can lead to questioning the product.
For the coffee roaster, sometimes they don’t get the recognition because they aren’t on
the label. Roasting is an art just like a painter or musician. Without a name on the bag,
that roasters work is lost just like a painting without a signature at the bottom. Some
roasters don’t like their work being sold “under the table.” Instead the coffee shop or
label company should be proud to carry that coffee and showcase it. Not only does the
coffee roaster lose out but the farmer who produced the coffee isn’t in discussion either.
Private label coffee might help your business. At Banyan Coffee we remain neutral on
this subject. There can be great causes and funds done through private label coffee. If
credit for the coffee roaster and farmer is visible on the bag or website, it gives more
transparency. If there is no transparency on the label maybe they are taking recognition
or cutting someone out. Again many local businesses use the Private Label Coffee
because of the convenience, consistent, coffee equipment and barista training as a
service At Banyan Coffee, we also provide coffee equipment and barista training for all
of our customers if needed.