Rave wows coffee lovers with cool eco ranges full of fresh flavours

Ethical craft coffee ‘Rave’ sources from farmers around the world

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With unique coffees such as Colombia’s Risaralda wowing customers with bright floral and boozy tropical notes, fresh-first company that treasures its independence makes to order, roasting and despatching the same day. 

Working with suppliers at origin, these are small farmers and social enterprises around the world and every one of the high-quality beans Rave imports is grown responsibly while one percent of its sales profits go to support environmental causes. 

Started by first-time entrepreneurs and majority owners Vikki and Robert Hodge a decade ago in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, their mission was to demystify coffee and “break away from the in-crowd”.

Now the business has a team of 30 and is forecasting a turnover close to £6m next year.

Like wine, chocolate and other craft produce, the UK’s coffee lovers’ cohort was growing strongly before lockdown and home drinkers since then have further swelled the ranks.

Rave’s growth has been 40 percent year on year. “We’ve seen huge demand for coffee, our machines and other equipment, a sign of how strong interest has become in preparing it correctly so people get most from experience,” says Vikki.

“Traceability and sustainability have become much more important in how customers choose too.”

Pivoting from a wholesale to a direct selling focus enabled Rave to diversify, juggle logistics and capitalise on seasonal harvest variations. This ensured it secured a year-round supply and could tailor ranges to customers’ needs. 

That led to a decision to invest £100,000 in equipment to make eco-friendly, Nespresso compatible pods in house. 

“Now we control the entire production process from roasting to despatch,” he adds. “We can choose shorter batch runs so there is less waste, something very important when you are in the business of fresh-on-demand.” 

A £200,000 investment in a second Loring Coffee Roaster, whose precise heating system uses 80 percent less fuel than the traditional drum type, will increase capacity and broaden the range of coffees produced. 

Customers though for now will be in the UK as Rave has halted selling to Europe after border hold-ups post-Brexit left its fresh coffee in queues and unusable. 

A move to a bigger site is on the cards and one earmarked is powered by a solar array, helping another of Rave’s challenges – finding a cheaper, green energy supply. 

“The year has been hard, but demand has increased, we haven’t furloughed anyone and have paid our dues during Covid,” reflects Vikki. 

“Doing our bit is very important to us. Every day is a school day and we’ve learned that to get through you just have to go with the curveballs.”

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