News & Analysis

South Australian coffee startup Rebel Coffee Co hopes to grow through partnerships in the fitness industry

- April 1, 2015 3 MIN READ

Starbucks may have shut most of its Australian doors a few years ago, but the number of local, speciality cafés has continued to rise – if there’s one thing Australians love, it’s a perfectly crafted coffee.

While the country’s love of coffee has seen a boom in bricks and mortar java providers, tech-savvy entrepreneurs have also seen an opportunity for business. Three South Australian friends passionate about coffee decided to start up their own local roasting business and ecommerce store, Rebel Coffee Co.

The startup has gone with an interesting growth strategy: rather than follow the traditional route of focusing on getting its blends into cafés, Rebel Coffee Co is looking to grow through the fitness industry. Andy Lee, co-founder of Rebel Coffee Co, said this came about through the team’s passion for both coffee and fitness, with the founders having launched fitness ecommerce store The WOD Life a few years ago.

“Coffee has been used for as a natural performance enhancer for years, whether as an early morning pick me up or boosting productivity in the office or performance the gym. Many of the coffees we had previously experienced with higher caffeine levels purely failed to hit the mark. Often the taste of the coffee beans and their origins had been lost, due to the beans selected and the roasting techniques,” Lee said.

The startup’s beans are ethically sourced and hand roasted in small batches using traditional roasting techniques. Lee said its Performance Blend, which has been refined to deliver a higher caffeine content, has been particularly popular.

“It has been a huge hit with the fitness industry, in particular the CrossFit community. Through our involvement in the community, we have partnered with health food stores, gyms, and CrossFit affiliates around the nation offering our coffee. These opportunities and partnerships have been built largely on the word of mouth, instrumental in our early stages of growth.”

Currently counting ten partners around Australia, Lee said the company is thinking carefully about its scaling strategy.

“It’s our aim to scale accordingly, ensuring we are able to maintain the quality of our coffee, while delivering fresh, small batches. As we ramp up our roasting schedule, our increased capabilities and new products in the pipeline we are excited to grow these partnerships,” he said.

As well as partnering with gyms and health food stores, the team has also been working on building the ecommerce side of the business. As well as coffee, the store sells coffee-related products and Rebel-branded clothing.

“Coffee via ecommerce is still a very relatively new industry. The challenge has been finding a simple and effective way for prospective customers to experience our coffee. Through offering sample options, we have aimed to overcome this by providing a low risk opportunity,” Lee said.

Rebel Coffee is offering 100g samples of blends for $9.99 with free shipping.

As Starbucks can attest, competition in the Australian coffee space is fierce, but by looking to the fitness industry to help build a loyal community around its coffee, Rebel Coffee has found an interesting gap in the market. The team’s experiences in the fitness industry with The WOD Life mean existing knowledge and connections they can exploit for the new venture.

For Lee, the big aim with Rebel Coffee Co is building a community.

“Rebel Coffee is a reflection of our passion. Our team at Rebel Coffee love the ability to share coffee with friends and family and it has been a big reason why we started and why we are driven to succeed with Rebel. We also aim to provide people with the ability to improve their health, well-being, and overall lifestyle through positive and natural means.”