The coffee industry at large is a relatively un-fragmented industry. In fact, most coffee brands do not even focus on specializing or differentiating themselves.
Beans from Cuba, Italy, Columbia and Asia are typically brought under the same roof- whether it be Starbucks, Think or Coffee Bean—and white labeled into branded categories under the company’s label. Further, the two main objectives most coffee companies share is to secure the largest bulk of coffee beans at the lowest possible cost, no matter the type or brand alignment.
As a result, the coffee industry is not as rich or diverse as other marque industries, say the whisky of wine industry. Take wine, for instance, which is heavily compartmentalized with distinct verticals for Argentinian wines (Malbecs), French blends (Grenache) and Italian Staples (San Giovese).
These unique verticals enable manufacturers to constantly refine, iterate, and add depth to their products, producing superior quality, fiercely competitive categories.
CEO and Founder of Tentera Coffee, Michael Riady has identified that this catalyzing force is missing in the coffee industry, and he has set out to create niche specialization in the coffee market.
Specifically, Tentera only uses single-origin Indonesian coffee farmed from landmark destinations across the country that have been mined since Dutch colonization, including Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi Toraja, Flores, Papua—and many other more.
Indonesia makes for a prime coffee destination as its lush, fertile landscape provides optimal conditions for coffee beans and the slight differences in elevation, climate, soil, etc. all contribute to unique variations amongst the beans grown in the different regions of the country.
This level of depth enables Riady and the team at Tentera to develop an array of unique blends. In particular, Riady aims to identify and accentuate the true character of each coffee bean: some are roasted light, some medium, some medium dark, and some slightly darker to find the equilibrium of each specific strain. Through this process, Riady is able to unlock the rich, natural flavor of each bean—at once distinguishing it as a class Indonesian product—and enabling customers to select different flavors for different days of the week or meals.
Through the level of depth and detail Tentera takes in developing its strains, it has separated itself from other players in the market and built a promising young brand for those who value quality above all else.
Beyond just Tentera’s success, Riady notes that coffee specialization is an emergent trend, and forecasts that in few years, authentic traditional family owned labels will become the new vogue in coffee markets much as they are today in the Whisky or Wine industry.
According to Riady, “I specialize to achieve one goal: to exceed customer expectations. I can do so because I amm five generations Indonesian and I know my Indonesian backyard better than most".
It is a very intriguing new value proposition that the Tentera brand is presenting.
If their early success in the American market is any indication, it appears that consumers will be responsive to niche, higher grade products in coffee and that a new paradigm for coffee selection can slowly start to form.