What does Lockdown Level 4 mean for Coffee Businesses?

Tuesday, 28 April, 2020

So the new Level 4 restrictions have been released and cafe owners were hoping for better news, and it seems the restrictions are up for debate. You can however continue to get beans delivered to you at home, see our growing list here.

The food service industry still has its hands tied:

Restaurants can sell meals through delivery services, but takeaway collections from stores are not allowed. Which means that takeaway coffees are also theoretically a no-go? A few cafes seem to be planning to utilise radius based deliveries through platforms like Uber Eats so that they can serve their community, while some of the larger chain cafes that operate high street, corporate and garage forecourts sites seem to have found a work around to sell takeaway coffees at select venues. Everybody's trying to make a plan to bring in some sales.

We canvassed the industry for responses to this and these are a few of the responses:

Craig  Charity (Lineage Coffee, Hillcrest, KZN)  - "I can't see how Level 4 will affect us less than Level 5, We will only be able to start take-away’s from Level 3 so for now we are focusing on online coffee bean sales and wholesale".

Amy Gardiner (Humble Coffee, Durban KZN)  -  "It looks likely that parts of KZN will remain on level 5 for the foreseeable future.

Regardless of this, ”Level 4” doesn’t look very different to “Level 5”  for us.
I don’t think that home deliveries will be as desirable as takeaway especially with our product offering. I also worry that opening up may put the business at risk even more as we would risk losing relief such as rent freezes and UIF support,
while outlaying costs that we may not recoup. This being said, we’re still having a great time selling coffee & alternative milk through our online shop and I think this is what we will focus on in the coming weeks/months!

Angeline McLagan (Urban Espress, PE) - "Level 4 simply means that we are one step closer to having you, our valuable Coffee family, enjoy our delicious brew In the comfort of your own home or wherever you find yourselves in this lockdown period. A little happiness amidst the chaos"

David Donde (Truth, Cape Town)  - "Level 4 is different for the different facets of our business."

For roasting, it means a team effort to roast with the same single minded objective of producing extraordinary coffee, at quantity levels well below pre COVID19 demand. Many of our hospitality clients will not be trading, some never again.

For the Cafe, we remain shut down for sit down. Renewed efforts for the pre-lockdown extraordinary offerings the team put together for in app delivery (Uber eats and Coffee Monster et al) will be rejuvenated and customer responses monitored and feedback amplified. For example A collaboration with Frankie Fenner Meat Market for a  Steak with Cafe du Paris butter and fries via delivery and pickup was a winner, demand started just as we were closed.

Furthermore, we are doing our best to share income amongst staff as best we can, ignoring job descriptions and team functionality, while keeping the group together and families fed. We will keep to this policy if we can! For this we need customer support.

David Walstra - Thirdspace, JHB - "Level 4 is not what coffee shops were expecting and is rather bad news in terms of being able to interact with customers again.

It presents a rather bitter dilemma in that the larger contracted companies who are able to deliver on your behalf will be doing so by taking half your profit unless we do so ourselves. We all need to do a full cost assessment to figure out if it’s worth opening up as it may be be costing us more in the long run (your landlord for instance may demand full rent because you’re trading again and you’re only able to trickle in a few thousand in delivering coffee and muffins)  - we only need to look at the recent announcement by the Spur Group indicating it would be commercial suicide to do some sort of soft opening - the same could apply to cafes only allowed to do deliveries.

At the end of the day the ability to pivot if you’ve got online presence or if your able to weather the storm becomes paramount to be ready for the turnaround. New Zealand has just opened up and people are queuing around the corner at their favorite spot they’ve missed so much - we must never forget that our customers are missing us too and we’d be well advised to push to get to the other side as it will be a lot less crowded when we get there".

Thera Van 't Hof ( vida e caffè - National )  “At vida e caffè we are devoted to the safety and well-being of our customers and our teams. As we move into level 4 of lockdown we are excited to announce that we will begin re-opening some of our Forecourt shops in partnership with Shell, as well as opening in selected corporate environments where consumers are returning to work. For those working, studying and still on lockdown at home, we are offering delivery through our partners, UberEats and MrD, across selected suburbs and city centres.  A huge vida thank you to our passionate team members returning to work to make this possible.
We continue to ensure our customers are creating their own favourite vida at home, through the ordering of our capsules and bean ranges online at Takealot and the Online Beverage Store. We're working on additional ways to rescue as much of our ingredients and surplus food as possible and continue to support our local communities through donations to SAHarvest food rescue, while donating coffee to essential healthcare workers and hospitals over this time."


Bernard Muneri (SCASA Chairperson) - The reality on the ground is the running of most Coffee shops overheads far outweigh the cost of sales that will be generated from Deliveries only trade. We remain positive and carry on engaging with relevant Government departments to at least lift and relax Level 4 lockdown further to allow us to come back to normal trade while we understand fully the devastation caused by the pandemic. Submissions and proposals to support our position as SCASA already sent to the Government. Remember, we are in this together and we urge all our members and communities at large to respect and follow provided guidelines to beat this COVID-19. Together we shall overcome, stay strong and keep safe.

We've also reached out to a couple other parties and will update this piece as they come in.

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Follow the A Shot in the Dark 2020 competition coffee around SA!

Friday, 24 April, 2020

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Win with Issue 31 and OKJA Oat M*lk

Friday, 17 April, 2020

With the delay in getting our Print Edition to the shelves we have adapted and have released our latest edition for sale online! 

We are putting up 8 prizes of R650 each to people who buy the magazine! (It's only R36.20 online!) 

So we have 8 x cases of OKJA Oat m*lk (12 x 1 litre) and 8 x limited edition Coffee Magazine flasks to give to 8 lucky readers! All you have to do is buy Issue 31.

One of the articles this edition is a beginners guide to the alternatives to dairy and OKJA is a new oat milk that is developed by an amazing group of South Africans so we're super excited to partner with them on this.

We also received good news this week that our printing and distribution partners have received the go-ahead to start to distribute the magazine to retail stores, so we will keep you posted on the progress of that!

Thank you for supporting our small business by buying this beautiful magazine that we put a lot of love and care into.

Please note: Only people residing in SA are eligible for these prizes!

Got any questions? Please email us!

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Barista Wage Calculator - New COVID-19 Section

Thursday, 16 April, 2020

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Looking after Health and Wellbeing with Red Espresso

Thursday, 16 April, 2020

Everybody has come together to play their part in the crisis we're facing and for a brand built on uplifting the healthy side of deliciousness, Red Espresso, it is important to keep people's immunity strong. Their partnership with CANSA was started in 2015 and they've stepped it up to start a Buy One Donate One initiative to deliver to local cancer patients whom are all part of this high risk group. Just go place an order from their online store to support! In the coming weeks we'll be partnering with Red Espresso to bring you tips, recipes and ideas for incorporating healthy ingredients into your diet to keep you and your families strong over this time.


To our red espresso® community,

Our thoughts are with everyone and we hope that you and your loved ones are all safe and well at this time.

The coronavirus is teaching all of us a sense of coming together as a family and as a community, of thinking of others and showing them kindness and compassion. And of showing courage in the face of uncertainty. 

15 years ago, we started our family business with the mission to bring health and wellness into coffee shops and homes around South Africa. Now, during these difficult times, we believe we can make a difference and want to do our part to help our community stay healthy and strong. 

You might not know this, but our award-winning range of deliciously healthy drinks are also known as rainbow drinks for their beautiful colours. They are our rooibos red cappuccino® and red latte®, golden turmeric latte, green tea matcha latte and crimson beetroot and ginger latte. Each one of these drinks is made from pure plant-based goodness and has a wide range of health benefits that can boost your immune system and help to prevent infection.

We’ve been brainstorming ways to make a positive impact locally and being part of the Rainbow Nation inspired us to find an answer.

Our online shop is open and we are processing and delivering online orders during lockdown. We’re starting a Buy One, Give One movement of all of our rainbow drinks. For every rainbow drink bag or box sold, we will give a free bag to a local resident who is part of the high risk group*. Simply place your order on our online shop.

Stay safe. Stay healthy, South Africa.

The red espresso® team

Join The Buy One, Give One Movement

* We have been partners with The Cancer Association of South AfricaCANSA, since 2015. We will be giving our free bags of rainbow drinks to CANSA to deliver to their local cancer patients whom are all part of the high risk group. You can read more about our partnership with CANSA here#DoubleRainbow  #KindnessMatters  #RainbowNation

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10 Ways in which the Food & beverage Industry will change after COVID-19

Thursday, 16 April, 2020

Article by Hein Kaiser.

Ten ways in which retail and the food and beverage industry will change in a post-Covid world.

Four weeks ago, it was business as usual. Three weeks ago, it became business unusual. Two weeks ago, the national lockdown gutted a n entire industry and everything we thought we knew has come to naught. So, says Mozambik Group CEO Manny Nichas who says that the rapid change in the trading environment has left an industry reeling with uncertainty. “Nobody can deny that throughout the value chain the initial shockwave and concomitant aftershock of Covid-19 and the global lockdown was akin to a deer caught in the headlights…”

But what seems like a paralyzing surprise at first is likely just an acceleration of what was to come, notes Nichas. “The way we do business has been fundamentally flipped in a really short time, and it’s the decisions and new momentum during this period that will determine survival. Difficulty can tap unexpected strengths in us all.” With a looming global recession on the heels of the pandemic on top of the step-change, “the next while will be a litmus test of determination and innovation.”

Nichas believes that there are ten ways in which the retail and related food and beverage industry will fundamentally shift.

Last mile economics. Say what?

  1. Last mile economics will no longer be the domain of large online retailers. From restaurants through to boutiques, grocery stores and department stores must plan now to create and implement delivery services and a significant online retail presence.
  2. Concomitant to an accelerated digital revolution in the middle to upper income sectors, so we may see the evolution in retail accelerate. Floor space may very well shrink and generalist department stores will likely see a trend continuation and either change the way they do business or disappear altogether. Think Garlicks, Stuttafords Greatermans and John Orr’s that have all disappeared in the past two decades already. Boutiques and specialist or bespoke retail with a smaller footprint and lower overall overheads with business agility will likely see a comeback.
  3. It will be a tenant’s market. With a significant supply in retail space in South Africa coupled with an instant contraction forced by circumstance, High rentals and an ivory tower landlord perspective will leave a lot of empty spaces in months and years to come unless conversations are had now about saving both sides of the tenant landlord value chain.
  4. Supply chain and origin of goods will become important not only for consumers as an act of conscience and perhaps a newly embedded fear, but localized sourcing and manufacturing or widening a supply chain may become critical for business continuity just in case a similar threat to Covid-19 lies in the near to medium term future.
  5. Brand collaborations and cross-pollination is the way of the future. Mozambik has already experimented with this, but it will become imperative to do so. In the past, who would have thought that a restaurant brand could partner with a car insurance brand, for example.
  6. Many restaurants will have to rethink their menus and the way that they remain commercially viable. Marrying a takeout and delivery service with dine-in means everything from packaging, pricing and presentation will eventually change to accommodate a new way of doing business.
  7. Hearts and minds. This is where the common denominator lies with all customers, whether they are Generation Z, Millennial, Generation X or Baby Boomers. Segmentation will start with the simple notion of creating and sustaining an emotional and no-nonsense relationship with consumers.
  8. In tandem with an expected proliferation of smaller, agile retailers, community engagement and community marketing by brands will become more critical than ever before. Mass media will become the domain of insurance brands and the financial sector while retail and related sectors will see a deep-dive into community related activity. Whether this means the 10km radius from a store or a niche market community.
  9. Shop floor inflation will remain low with margins squeezed even harder as retailers fight for Rands in an 18-month post-Covid period that will see casualties pile up and new, agile players emerge.
  10. Social Distancing and sanitizing will become a way of life with retail and restaurants continuing safer practices across the board, and consumers will demand it.

“In addition, I think we should add that the whole customer experience as we know it, needs to be revised and changed to suit the dramatically changing environment. Collaboration with experts in various fields to help manage the expectations of the customer in various trading formats,” notes Nichas

“A quick response to a changing environment that none of us can really predict means that strategic implementation of traditional business thinking goes out the window, now. It is, in a sense, a very exciting albeit scary time. We are living in historic times, and every step we take will be recorded and studied for years to come,” says Nichas. “While none of us know the final post-Covid destination, the current journey holds a myriad of lessons for us all.”

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Discover Great Coffee Club: Delivery is available!

Thursday, 9 April, 2020

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Watch: No espresso during Lockdown! Take 2!

Thursday, 9 April, 2020

It's April 2020. South Africa is in lockdown. The Coffee Authorities are clamping down on tasteless parodies and bad jokes. Will these cowboys survive? Or do they need to do something drastic to get their fix?

Find a local roastery still delivering coffee here.

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