A Beginner’s Guide to Private Label Coffee

Updated October 17, 2023

A Beginner’s Guide to Private Label Coffee

Private label coffee suppliers sell coffee to buyers looking to repackage and rebrand it, then sell it as a customized coffee product under an alternative brand name. This business practice is also known as white labeling. Besides being shrewd -— private labeling can save your coffee business both time and money — buying a tried-and-tested product also minimizes business risk while allowing you to build a brand without having to worry about supply. Are you a young coffee business hoping to source the right product and make it stand out on the shelf? Well, look no further, because we’ve got you covered.

How to Private Label Coffee

Before we get started, there are several questions you need to ask yourself before you can execute this business strategy successfully. 

Private labeling always involves buying coffee from a third party supplier, but you can either buy it from private label coffee roasters, or from a wholesale supplier who works with farmers directly at origin and then roasts the beans themselves. It goes without saying that the latter involves extra logistics, but this method can often work out cheaper overall. And, if you choose wisely, your supplier will take care of everything so you don’t have to worry about it. More on this later!

While we’re on the topic of laying the groundwork, another factor to be clear on is who your customer base will be and what they’ll be looking for in a coffee product. You’ll need to decide:

  • Ground or whole: For starters, consider whether you’replanning to sell bags of ground coffee or whole coffee beans..
  • Market research: Next up,think about the sort of roasting profile your buyers might be interested in — light, medium or dark? All of the above, or something in between? 
  • Special processes: What about stocking a specially processed coffee to satisfy your coffee connoisseur customers? If you sense they might be looking to splurge, you might want to think about stocking a premium variety such as Geisha or Wush Wush. 
  • Single origin/ combined: As a coffee business using private label services, you can either choose to sell single origin varieties or combine different coffees to create a signature blend, which could become a unique selling point for your customers.

One of the key advantages of choosing to sell private label coffee is the ability to repackage a product and sell it as your own, but in order to do this you’ll need to think about branding and consider what sort of custom labels you’ll want for your coffee packaging. This needs to align with a marketing strategy to keep your coffee business afloat. Trust us, this is not something you’ll want to cut corners on. 

What are Private Label Coffee Roasters?

Private label coffee roasters are perfect for small coffee businesses who don’t have the resources, financial capacity, or know-how to roast their own coffee.  

Roasting coffee, or turning green coffee beans into the aromatic, flavorful ones we all know and love, is a time-consuming and costly process. Coffee roasting equipment also requires a lot of space; big roasting machines, space to store trays to cool the beans on, sacks or bags to store them in, a scale, an automatic loader, and a whole host of other equipment. 

For this reason, private label coffee is usually sold in minimum quantities of 120 pounds. However, for smaller coffee businesses, here at Those Coffee People we offer a minimum order of 22 pounds for every coffee or roast level. And thanks to our handy sample packs, you can try before you buy for an affordable price. 

Not sure where to start? Book in a consultation with a member of our team who can share advice on how to start and maintain a successful private label coffee brand. 

What to Ask Private Label Coffee Suppliers

When submitting private label inquiries, it’s a good idea to have a set list of questions on hand to ask private label coffee suppliers, in order to get the best idea of the services they offer. We recommend you request a price quote and stipulate your requirements around the following: 

  • Quality
  • Roast level
  • Quantity 
  • Order frequency
  • Label design
  • Bag type & color

Once you’ve submitted the private label inquiry form, it’s simply a case of waiting for responses to arrive, and then comparing and contrasting offers to see what works best for your business. At this point, it’s a good idea to hop on a call and follow up with a few different suppliers to work out which one you’d like to tell your brand’s story. 

If you are looking to elevate your sourcing experience and buy private label coffee directly from farmers at origin, make sure you work with anFDA-registered supplier. As we mentioned before, buying coffee from suppliers overseas might sound more logistically complicated — there’s importation and exportation to think about, for one — but a qualified supplier with all the right licenses will know exactly how to navigate the process. 

Here at Those Coffee People, we make buying from origin fun and easy! Thanks to the network of farmers across Colombia we’ve developed, purchasing private label coffee directly from this Arabica bean paradise can bring a different dynamic to your brand and set you apart from competition. Fill out one of our private label inquiries and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

Looking for direct trade private label services in Colombia? Discover the range of coffee beans we have to offer.

How to Start a Private Label Coffee Business

  1. Business Plan 

Starting a private label coffee business is much like starting any other business. In fact, sourcing the coffee is the easy part. The challenge? As ever, this involves building a brand that meets the needs of a target market and stands out from the rest. In order to achieve this, you’ll need to complete a universal step in entrepreneurship — draw up a business plan. 

One of the reasons so many coffee brands fall at the first hurdle is because they fail to target the correct audience. Some don’t even attempt to identify or pursue a specific buyer persona — a key step. Once you’ve done this, ask yourself what is your coffee brand’s mission, vision, and what are its goals? Make sure you brainstorm this and lay out your answers clearly.

  1. Coffee and Roasting

So, you’ve nailed down your business plan, conducted market research and you have a clear idea on who is going to be buying your coffee and exactly how they’ll like it roasted. You have in mind a coffee variety (or varieties) you’d like to sell. You’ve chosen a private label coffee supplier who can source the best quality beans for your budget and projected sales volume, while also being the right fit for your brand and customers. Now you can commit to ordering!

  1. Design and Packaging

Finally, let’s get down to the details on design and packaging. Once your chosen private label supplier is working away roasting the coffee beans to the profiles you’ve ordered, you can get to work with them executing the perfect packaging options you’ve been brainstorming for your coffee products. 

You’ll be able to choose everything from the bag size, color, and help design custom labels to catch your customers’ eyes and make your coffee stand out on the shelf — be that in a physical store or online. Choose a price point that works for both you and your customers, and you should be good to go.

Thanks for reading our beginner’s guide to private label coffee. We hope you’ve come away with some valuable lessons you’ll be able to put into practice along the way! 

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