Trader Joe, Coffee Selection, Category Manager discussed on Inside Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's team about four years ago now. I am a category manager in the Boston. Office and I work primarily on shelf stable beverages and our coffee and tea section in the coffee category now at trader. Joe's we used to do one thing. We used to whole beans in a nitrogen flesh canton and that was kind of our coffee section and now we have pods. We have ground coffee. We have whole bean coffee. We have limited edition. Coffees like there's a lot going on in the category. Yes and that's actually something. That's shifting right now. Is seeing our customers. Move away from those big cans of hold being coffee and we're seeing growth in ground but there are some copies that they're better left holding until you're ready to grind and brew but when we look at what we're GonNa do with it. There's a couple of factors that come into play the coffee grinders and the store. Is this going to fit? Under the grinders and easy to use as easy to reclosed for our customers is better off and can format but overall with our sustainability initiatives as. Well we are moving away from the can to Be a little more green earth friendly. What packaging is more sustainable than McCann coming soon? We have worked with a couple of our major vendors to up with a home compostable back so same format as are bad. Coffees are now but completely impossible. We are going to attempt to move in that direction. And we're doing the same thing with our pods and a couple of other items in the category. I say we're probably six to twelve months away before we see any hit the shelves. We're close. We're not there yet but we're almost there. It's pretty exciting. Trying to figure out how our customers making coffee are these people a classic drip through or are they making. Cold brew at home are they. Using a MOCHA stove. Top Espresso maker. Are they like what the heck? How do we get a sense of that? How do we get any intelligence from customers on this? It's a little trial and error. Everybody's really picky and has their own methods and so we just have to find something that is available for every type of error. So how do we do that and still be true to what we are attempting to be? That is not everything for everybody. An area we do. Shy Away from is flavored. Whole being when you add a flavor. Sometimes that I mean obviously it narrows the audience so we have French Vanilla. It's very applicable flavor. Everybody expansional coffee. I think or a has at some point. Speak for yourself Lawrence. Sorry we've done some interesting things where they are. Ostensibly flavored coffees. But they're like spiced or seasoned coffee. So we have that great wintry blend. It's like basically coffee with a bunch of spices in it exactly. So it's a cleaner way to approach a flavor than adding some artificial flavor to a grand copy and not that. That's what everybody out there doing. But that is really the way to get that flavor punch. And we don't WanNa do that. How do you determine this coffee should be whole being? This coffee should be ground. This one deserves to go and a cup or a pod really thinking about the customer and one thing we're seeing in terms of changes in the category is ground. Coffee is growing our ground. Coffee Selection hasn't grown as much. We're working on it. Let's say the biggest trend seen over the past couple years would be cold BREW FOR THE SAKE OF CLARITY? What is the cold and cold brew mean what is Cold Brew Cold Brew? Coffee is coffee. That has been brewed using zero. Hot Water you are brewing. The coffee from cold water and letting it steep in cold water versus hot brew. Which is where you are. Traditional coffee from we wanted to hit that in a couple of different areas and we achieved with their cold brew. Concentrate and we have some other Cobra options coming. That don't need to be drank colds. But it's were brew cold. You're going to have a less acidic experience overall like I said just a smoother coffee flavor overall. I don't know if you can tell I prefer Cobra. How do we find coffees? How do we source our coffee? Items like our land and our everyday assortment. Those really are a result of what our customers were lacking dark. Roast rely lacking medium light so we kind of search for items to fit those gaps. We really do rely on our vendor partners to tweak the roasts and beans and everything's who the exact specification we are asking for versus small lot. Coffee there are boots on the ground in these remote areas of the world and they are finding the coffee for us and they bring it back and they say I found these wonderful options from these small lot farms and we can have all of their crop for this year. What do you think I mean? There are more than sixty countries around the world that grow coffee. Most you know within a thousand miles of the equator. It's the BEAN BELT. But then there's this almost al chemical process of roasting so what you do with beans beans. Almost nothing without the roast. So if it's a small farm in some remote country near the equator will take a farms entire production a small farm for that year. We'll take the whole production so it's a small lot. Our customers really respond to it. It's really great. Oh my gosh. When can I get more of that? It would be at least a year. Yeah because we are taking their whole crop and so they have to grow that crop and it may not taste exactly the same second time but that's the beauty of it and it's a very different experience than the way we source our copy for our Joe's medium Joe's dark well and we're looking for consistency with dark and the JOE's medium. We're looking for something that every time. A customer opens that bag. They know exactly what they're going to get. That's my Joe's right. Every time has to smell and ultimately taste with an expectation whereas a small lot is both storytelling and a Great Cup of coffee. Smalls a relative term right I would say. Typically a small lot is one to two containers. Okay forty to eighty thousand pounds which to me sounds like wow that is like swimming pools multiple swimming pools full of confidence. When you think about you know all the stores all the customers that are excited about it. It probably doesn't last very long. And that's probably a good thing. I'M GONNA guess we want to make space for the next small out we've got coming in. We started the small out program we only had. I think maybe two or three and one year and we're working towards having ten to twelve and twenty twenty one. We have eight coming out this year. Where would these beans ago? Were it not for trader? Joe's buying them sometimes they may go nowhere. And so we're really helping a community taking all of this product from them and that that's their year. I WanNa talk about bulk bins. Because I've been in some specialty coffee shops where the coffee is all out and bins and you take a scoop and you put it in a bag and you pay for it by the pound and people tend to think well. That's really fresh and I know that not to be true but can you explain why you are putting whole beans into a bulk bin. You're exposing them to more elements than than they are when they're in the kanner in a bag you're introducing more oxygen your introducing outside contaminants. I think it's really. Oxygen is the enemy of freshness here and part of the magic of coffee is inventory turns selling stuff quickly it diminishes it becomes less of itself overtime so when you're smelling coffee and one of those small shops it means that that's just leaving the beans. We have more things in bags and you can smell coffee bags because you squeeze them and a little sh of hair might come out. But that's a one way valve right so air doesn't go back in. So that's why those become more compressed and compacted the more you squeeze them because I'm always squeezing those bags in a storage but that's me and looking for poking stuff from stores Mr whipple. It's a one way valve. You're just pushing out some of the nitrogen oxygen. That is still in there. And that's exactly why they get almost Where you can see like the beans on the outside of the bag because it will really tight pants dislike still fit still fit and once upon a way back. Our coffee canisters did not have those valves and every so often they would get packed a little too soon after roasting and they would just blow up and sometimes they would explode. I recommend squeezing those banks system. Squeeze the coffee the coffee anything coming out that you're really excited.