Why I'd put my money on Shravan D.S. and Beanrove
Most of you might not know what Beanrove is. It is a roastery based in Bangalore run by a guy called Shravan. Sounds simple right?
Well, it's not. I need to share a few things with you to help you develop a mental picture of what's happening here before you attempt to look under the hood to understand what Shravan is doing. He is a smart guy. Experienced, established and well-connected. And trust me, the roastery is just a front. Don't worry, nothing Pablo Escobar-y happening here. As I said, he's a super smart guy and I've had the pleasure to know him over the last few months. Today, I call him several names including mentor, teacher, sounding-board and a friend. And definitely the guy who is weaving together the next big thing in the specialty coffee space behind this smokescreen called 'Beanrove'. Let's dive in.
Now, every magic trick has 3 parts (you've heard this before right?)
The Pledge - something ordinary
The Turn - make it extraordinary
The Prestige - do the impossible
Shravan comes from a family of coffee growers and producers. I'll limit this piece only to one estate in a bouquet of many for the purpose of simplicity. Kalledevarapura Estate has been in his family for decades. Their coffees have made a mark in domestic and international markets. Classic Coffee is their brand which has earned great repute. Shop-in shops at airports have this brand in their showcase. You can imagine how great a job they are doing at creating an Indian coffee brand. They have been doing this pretty well consistently. This is their "Pledge" of sorts. Something ordinary but executing it to the best.
Now, they need to add that extra zing to their game to be recognised as a specialty brand. But Classic already has a notion associated with its brand i.e. a premium coffee brand. To be able to become specialty would have been an almost impossible task risking dissociating with a stable growing business. What then?
This is not a spin-off from the mother brand but an entirely different entity in the whole scheme of things. Why? There are 4 things to note about the specialty coffee industry:
Estate recognition is critical
Roasters' credibility is a discriminant
Specialty play is small and controlled
Word spreads fast
Shravan creates Beanrove as an entity that can bring Kalledevarapura to the forefront and exercise his expertise as a roaster. He comes from a background of coffee. And the space is catching up with his coffees as well. His play is currently limited to B2B but he is creating waves in the specialty space. With a simple switch, he could "Turn" something ordinary into extraordinary.
But he has been fooling us all this time. One slight of hand and you'd have missed it.
Heard about the nano-lot project?
Shravan has been running an initiative where he has created dozens of nano-lot coffees based on innovative processing techniques. He then roast profiles them and forwards to other roasters, cafes and customers. These people give him feedback on the coffees after which he goes back to the drawing board and reworks the coffees. Since word spreads fast, people now know about Kalledevarapura and demand increases. You will now find this estate picking up pretty well with roasters and customers alike.
Now, here comes "The Prestige".
You would've missed looking at one piece all along. Processing methods. Washed coffee is a safe play for producers because commodity coffee does not give due price recognition to naturals or honey processing. So prudence takes center stage and innovation drops given the low margin unit economics. But there is a significant upside in coffee pricing if you can do something which customers seek. By experimenting with multiple processing methods like carbonic maceration to chikoo processing and more, Shravan creates a moat for Kalledevarapura supported by his own profiling expertise. Now, everybody wants a coffee that has never been attempted and roasters are compelled to purchase uniquely processed coffees from Kalledevarapura! A simple value add that significantly impacts its identity as a specialty coffee. The same estate which supplied commodity coffee has now the potential to become an exclusive single origin specialty brand just because Shravan chose to split his associations. The sum of the parts is now greater than the whole - an impossible (almost).
He can now scale this up across his estates and lock-in demand over time. Potential uptick in revenues is huge and it will soon invite international recognition. Don't be surprised if he happens to become the face of Indian specialty coffee industry. Because he is absolutely headed there. I would definitely put my money on him, for he is the winning horse and the only one in Indian specialty coffee game.