This coffee-startup clocked a four-fold increase in sales during lockdown

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Talking to Restaurant India, Bharat Sethi of Rage Coffee shares about starting a niche, specialised coffee brand.
  • Nusra Deputy Features Editor
Bharat Sethi

It all started with a simple thought to solve a personal problem - How to get great tasting coffee without spending much time brewing one and also not shelling out too much money in cafes. Bharat Sethi started collecting data, conducting surveys, and soon established that the coffee market in India had many unserved gaps. In fact, there was no lifestyle aspirational brand built around such an emotional subject that is ‘coffee’. The category remained largely underserved, was devoid of any real innovation, and underpenetrated online. Moreover, the balance between affordability, consuming and quality were also missing.

Rage Coffee

Essentially, he wanted to upgrade an average consumer who could pay Rs. 100 more on their monthly consumption of coffee and get inspired to tell us a whole new experience of coffee in terms of the quality, affordability as well as consumption. “Our next immediate focus was on ingredients, formulations, manufacturing techniques, packaging, and direct-to-consumer distribution to bring a premium quality product along with a unique coffee experience to everyone. Thus, Rage Coffee was born in 2018.  So, all in all, it fell at the right intersection of a personal passion and a huge market gap,” shared Sethi with proud. Excerpts from the interview:

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How has been the journey so far as we have also seen the pandemic hitting the food and beverage sector worst?

The pandemic did impact the F&B sector, restaurants, cafes, as well as the HoReCa. But we are an FMCG company, and the COVID-19-induced lockdown restrictions acted as a catalyst for the entire sector. In fact, the entire sector saw the at-home consumption of packaged food products going up.

Rage Coffee

Similarly, packaged coffee or caffeine-based drinks came as a revitalizer to boost the energy levels of people who were confined to their homes with an extra amount of work and zero socializing. To throw a spotlight here, this only spiked at-home coffee consumption in India during the pandemic. Amidst the pandemic, we witnessed an overwhelming development. Rage Coffee had clocked a four-fold increase in online and offline sales between May and October 2020.

You recently raised funding. Where can we see that money being infused?

The fresh funds raised are used predominantly for marketing and distribution purposes as we expand our online presence and footprint offline. Besides, Rage Coffee is also receiving a lot of interest from international distributors inclined towards global consumers. Thus, global expansion is also in the cart. On the whole, we will be continuing to focus on our overall business development including strengthening our innovation and R&D to come up with new product offerings.

We see that Indians are moving towards more artisanal and healthy coffee options. What’s pushing this trend?

As much as it’s true that every coffee lover has a preference for their perfect cup of java, at the same time, they are always looking for something new to try - be it at home or at a cafe. People are beginning to discover and appreciate new flavours as well as brewing techniques. However, we are also seeing that Indians are moving towards a fitness functional coffee space with different flavors.

Who do you see as your competitor in the market?

The Legacy giants

What’s your view on the growth of the coffee sector in the country?

Needless to say, the coffee sector in the country is growing at a significant rate with the market expected to grow annually by 7.2% CAGR in 2021 - 2025. In fact, in the last couple of years, we have seen huge transformations in the coffee segment where superior taste, quality, innovative brewing techniques along with unique flavours are a priority. Moreover, we are already into the third wave of coffee and I believe India will jump to the 4th wave of coffee very soon in the next few years.

Rage Coffee

Who do you target as your customer?

16-35 years old who have already identified coffee as their go-to beverage

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What is your expansion plan?

Along with our constant effort to innovate and launch innovative new offerings and trend setting products, we are planning to expand our distribution network. It is also our vision to grow our revenues by 5x and reach over 3000 retailers by the end of 2021 and be a leader in building true omni-channel presence in our category.

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