What's Brewing

To complicate is easy, to simplify is difficult.

We love coffee, but we hated how hard it is to get a great one. So we set out to fix this problem, by creating a cold brew coffee. Cold, black, ready-to-drink coffee. Good coffee doesn’t need milk and sugar and we wanted to prove this by brewing the perfect coffee ourselves. We feel that cold brew is a quality, convenient and simple option. So why do cold brew coffee companies add flavours and sugar to what is supposed to be a great coffee as it is? The UK cold brew market is still in its infancy. The category is still new and mostly unknown. It doesn't need complicating, it needs simplifying.

Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but when there is no more to remove
— Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Our cold brew coffee will allow an unlimited and uninterrupted flow of quality coffee. We recognise that the main reason people drink coffee is to energise and perk up, but the nation’s palate is advancing and a bad cup is no longer an option. Cold brew seems simple but that’s because we’ve taken the complexity of making it yourself out of the equation so it’s ready-to-drink and accessible for everyone. Good coffee shouldn’t be just for those in the know.

Nothing is added where nothing more is needed (not even nitro). Our coffee is just coffee, solo. No more, no less.

 

PS big updates coming early May...

Supermarket for some, terrible market for others

The UK food and drinks market tends to follow similar patterns to the US. I’m thankful for this as cold brew coffee is a well established product there. The only risk with imitating their markets is simply that the result in the UK might be different, and often it is. Most people jump to the conclusion that maybe the product just doesn’t work over here because of our taste and cultural differences. However, I’m starting to think that it has more to do with timing than the product itself. 

When UK brands copy the US market, they copy its current market and forget the introductory phase it undoubtedly had to endure. For example, when we look to the cold brew market in the US, we see supermarket shelves bursting with different varieties of bottled cold brew coffee, so what do we do? We make some cold brew, put it in a bottle and start cold calling the poor product buyers at the supermarkets starting our pitch with “it’s huge in the US”. Forgetting that the nation became familiar with the product through cafés, not supermarkets.

Forcing a new product into the supermarket doesn’t work (that well). It’s like going to a party you’re not invited to: it’s an awkward introduction at the door and you probably won’t get in but if you do, nobody knows or trusts you, the party will only speak to the people they already know and will avoid you, and eventually they will say does anybody know this person and you’ll get kicked out and reduced to clear. The more natural way of going to a party is by becoming so familiar with someone that they come to enjoy your company until they actually invite you to their party and introduce you to all their friends. 

So, if you’re still reading after that painstaking analogy, our strategy is to take cold brew coffee to the places where people are open to try new ways of drinking coffee… Cafés. I know that is stupidly obvious, but somehow it slipped our mind. Drinks companies are more focused on supermarket listings than actually addressing where people are most likely to drink their product. I think that a supermarket listing for us would only ever be useful when the nation is familiar enough with cold brew coffee that they actually have the thought to go to a supermarket to get a coffee. For now, a bottled coffee is not going to win the impulse buyer. 

Can we interview you?

EDIT: Thank you to everyone that filled this out.

The first stage of our rebrand has been to understand who we are. Now we want to know who you are... Below is a survey that has been made by the branding team we're working with, to help us understand more about our current and potential customers. Often brands speak to their customers but then don't listen to them, we thought this could be an opportunity to hear your opinions. We'd really like to hear from you and would be very grateful if you could spare 10(ish) minutes of your time to fill it out. Also if you'd like to go the extra mile, you could maybe possibly potentially perhaps send it to a friend?

It's all anonymous, so be as brutally honest as you like!

Thanks.

Theo and Alex

 

 

Wisdom of the crowd

Firstly thank you for all the support, it’s mad how many of you actually read this (now thousands!). Because of the positive reaction from the last post, I thought it’s worth keeping everyone in the loop with an update.

In our typical jammy way of doing things, we’ve managed to secure investment in a matter of weeks. And with this good fortune on our side, we’ve also managed to find the most ideal collective of branding professionals. In the beginning stages of our redevelopment, what we’re learning more than ever is the wisdom of the crowd. With this in mind, we thought the best way of rebuilding the brand is with the help of as many people as possible. During the first few stages of rebranding we’d like to send surveys to as many of you as possible, to help us do this please enter your email address below.

A note to stockists: we apologise for the delay, confusion and lack of cold brew, we’ll be back very soon so please get in touch and we can give you further details about stock. 

A note to customers: we are trialling our cold brew in two national café chains early next year. It will soon be much easier to be drinking cold brew coffee wherever you are in the UK.

In summary, two scruffy twenty somethings with an idea to make speciality coffee more convenient have scrapped the unprofessional approach and found investment and teamed up with industry experts to turn our passion into a seriously powerful and caffeinated force.

Thanks again and happy Christmas.

Theo and Alex

Is it the end for Antler & Bird?

Well, no, not exactly. But we are hibernating for the next few months. By this, we mean we’ve suspended production entirely so that we can focus on harnessing investment and undertaking a complete rebrand. In the past year, we’ve developed a product that we’re proud of – and we’ve certainly proved there is a growing demand for cold brew. With this in mind, we’ve decided to pursue our dream at full force. We’re now working with a team of mentors and advisors and a leading branding agency to create not only a product, but a brand that can take great coffee to an even wider audience.

Cold brew coffee is a drinks industry disrupter. Cold black coffee is bold, aggressively free of dairy and sugar and a middle finger to the pumpkin spiced lattes. By nature, Alex and I are the same as our product, so it’s hard for us to criticise what we’ve created but we now recognise that our brand doesn’t accurately portray our mission. In the last six months, we’ve started to have a clear understanding of our identity and our purpose. We are so passionate about our cold brew coffee that we will not rest until we have an army of people who feel the same way. We just don’t think our current aesthetic and feel are the perfect media for starting this cold brew revolution.

This is a point that many entrepreneurs reach at some stage. There are so many aspects of the business to keep in mind at the beginning that some of the most simple points slip the mind. Why do you exist? What problem are you solving? Who are you speaking to? We now know the answers to these questions, and will build our brand around them.

A word to other fledgling entrepreneurs: if you feel inclined to do what everyone else is doing branding-wise, forget it. Hiding under a facade will slowly catch up and you will eventually become disillusioned with your own baby. Do everything to be as true to you as possible, because no one can do you as well as you can. Chances are YOU are your target audience, so if you’re completely sincere you will attract the right customers. If not, you will find yourself living in two worlds. This advice doesn’t apply to everyone. For example, if you’re pro-dairy and set up an alternative milk company, best not to say that veganism is a fad, otherwise all of your customers will disown you.

In summary, we’ve realised that nowadays the product is only a part of the puzzle. We need to clearly demonstrate our purpose for people to pick up our product or for it to be on the shelves in the first place. We know our cold brew coffee is legit, but we need to prove it to incite curiosity. All recommendations will be taken on board at this formative point. Please let us know what you think and what you would do in our position.

Thanks for your continuing loyalty.

Theo and Alex

The Future for Cold Brew Coffee

We started Antler & Bird with the intention of creating a great ready-to-drink coffee purely through our interest in coffee. Naively, we weren’t thinking of the current and potential market for our product, we weren’t thinking about a ‘gap in the market’, and we had no plan on how to convince the public to pick up a drink that they are not at all familiar with.

Yesterday I was walking through the small town of Frome and I passed a woman who wasn’t part of our 'target demographic' and she said to her friend “I really fancy a cold brew right now”, I looked at my friend in shock. For the rest of the day, I was thinking about how the term Cold Brew, in the space of a few years, has gone from being speciality coffee nomenclature, to everyday small talk. Since the start of A&B, I’ve felt the need to explain what cold brew is, less and less. Thanks are due, but I don’t know where.

Australia and USA are undoubtedly the biggest force in the introduction of Cold Brew Coffee, and it’s great to see the popularity increase year-on-year but I was a bit skeptical about whether the trend would repeat in the UK. The British are quite particular about what they eat and drink, and I used to think that trying to convince an English person to put down their tea and pour a cold black coffee over ice would be near impossible. But after hearing the woman yesterday, I’m sure that the aforementioned conversion, will be a regular occurrence. 

Thanks to the winning combination of luck, timing, and word-of-mouth, our drink has developed legs so powerful, that I will be seriously surprised if you can’t buy a Cold Brew in every supermarket within the next 2 years.

Fast Growth Needs Investment

Starting a business is quite different to how I envisaged. I imagined there would be a few hurdles at the beginning but after creating a product and interest then securing accounts we would quickly break even. Much of this has come true, however I never imagined how much of a spending machine a year old business could be. 

Another realisation I’ve had is just how much money most start ups have behind them. Many start ups give an image of ‘zero to hero’ but I think the reality is there are quite a few zeros behind them. This doesn’t come from spite, I just feel it’s something that is kept behind closed doors as it’s not the most romantic image for a business that is trying to sell you something.

The very nature of our fast growth business requires considerable capital to maintain growth. This is a catch 22. We are growing before profiting, money comes in and leaves before we pay ourselves. We received a £25,000 loan from Virgin. This was so ideal for us at the time. We took some huge steps forward with this money and we are now in a position most businesses would take a few years to get to. 

We have a product, we can produce an endless amount of the product, the business model makes a profit with all the costs in mind. However young businesses are unpredictable and we will spend money on the development of our brand to keep us at the forefront of this demanding wave of the industry. Not one penny of the loan has been misspent and has added huge value to our business. But we’ve realised that in order to grow at this pace we need some form of capital injection (more detail on why in full proposal). This is not a position of ‘keeping our heads above water’, it is us saying we are not prepared to slow down our growth. Our business is undoubtedly going to continue to increase in size, but for the time being we need to take a large slice of humble pie, and offer anyone that’s interest, a slice of our pie.

We have written an investment proposal and will potentially be looking at crowdfunding. But if you have any advice, questions, or interest, please please do get in touch at info@antlerandbird.co.uk

First Blog Post

After a year of trading we feel it's necessary to keep our customers in the loop, this blog aims to inform and involve. We want to hear from you before we make our big decisions. Our product is transparent (figuratively and literally), and we want the brand to be as well. 

first blog post.jpg

So what's new? In February 2017, we received a loan of £25,000 from Virgin Start Up. This allowed us to freshen up the branding, pick up any loose ends, and majorly upscale our manufacturing capabilities. From this, people got talking (thank you to those who do). Distributors started approaching us, as well as big boy retailers. These things take a while, so we have to keep quiet for a bit, but I can say that we will soon be stocked in hotels, café chains, and some high end stores. We are working with Diverse Fine Foods, who stock thousands of shops across the UK. This means all of you curious potential stockists can buy directly from Diverse, win win.

On Thursday, we got a phone call from Virgin. They were calling to tell us, that the application we sent a few weeks ago for Foodpreneur 2017, had been picked in the top 16 of thousands of applications. We will be pitching on Thursday 1st June. 

We'll slowly be releasing the news on the new stockists, so hold tight. 

I know it's cliché, but thanks to everyone who has been supportive to us in the first year. Without you buying our coffee and talking about our brand, it would still be being made in my parent's house. Head of Sales - the customers, we're done with ineffective sampling, the majority of our stockists have got in touch through recommendation. Every restaurant says they're the best, but you only go to the ones your friends recommend. We love our product, and we will continue to make it the best we can, if people want it that's great, but I'm not gonna be shoving it down people's throats. 

Thank you. Be bold, drink cold, or don't.

Theo x