Whenever people consider the source of their coffee, countries like Brazil and Kenya always come to mind. Surprisingly, Asia produces almost a third of the world’s supply. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia leads in producing Arabica coffee, whereas Vietnam leads the way with Robusta coffee.
According to a Euromonitor International report, retail coffee sales reached $6.5 billion USD in 2019 in Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. This figure represented a 6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) compared to the 5% global average. Despite last year’s lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, retail coffee sales multiplied, with Singapore leading the numbers in the region.
We explore the evolving landscape of foodtech in Southeast Asia
The region’s shift to drinking coffee at home is responsible for the eCommerce growth in the sector of 53% in 2020. Coffee tech startups in Singapore, such as Flash Coffee, are trying to take advantage and enhance their presence in the surrounding countries.
Other coffee tech startups in Southeast Asia are also rising to meet the region’s demands. Here is a list of some of the recent key players:
Last year, the startup raised $209 million USD to bring its total funding to $237 million USD. Investors include Sequoia Capital India, KUNLUN, Horizons Ventures, and B Capital Group.
The Kopi Kenangan app provides membership benefits, including vouchers, pre-orders, cashback points, and free birthday drinks.
Ratio is a robotic cafe and lounge based in Singapore, providing a unique service to their clientele. The company’s technology creates precise beverages, such as coffee, cocktails, and the local drink, Nanyang Kopi O.
In February, it raised $10 million USD from JustCo, zVentures, and Frasers Property.
Its app allows pre-orders, digital payments, drink customisation, and single tap re-orders from your mobile device.
Another Singapore-based chain of coffee stores, Flash Coffee, also has other locations in Indonesia and Thailand. It works by offering an app to customers to order and buy coffee online. Then, the buyers collect their orders at the store.
The tech-enabled startup started operations in 2019 and recently raised $15 million USD from Conny & Co and White Star Capital. Its initial investment came from Rocket Internet, and other investors are Global Founders Capital, DX Ventures, and Delivery Hero. The company will expand and open 300 new outlets in markets such as Vietnam, the Philippines, and other parts of Asia as a whole.
Its app now has extra features to boost the customers’ experience, for example, streamlining the ordering process. Moreover, it now gives incentives to buyers, including loyalty programmes and promotions.
In February, the company teamed up with SaladStop!, a health food chain, to pair its coffee with delicious meals.
Morning, another Singapore-based startup, makes home brewing machines and capsules that deliver delicious blends of coffee to its drinkers. The Morning Machine has ten default formulae that bring out the distinct flavour of each brew. It also has a Morning mobile app to allow buyers to customise recipes and add them to the menu options.
In addition, its bespoke machine has temperature and pressure settings to manage the quality of the coffee and control the output depending on the size of the cup.
The startup recently raised $1.27 million USD from zVentures, the investment arm of the gaming brand Razer. It aims to use the money for its global expansion efforts. Another investor is the Lo & Behold Group.
Morning has partnerships with global roasters, such as April Coffee Roasters, Bettr Coffee Company, PPP Coffee, and Cru Cafe.
This chain of speciality coffee shops is based in Indonesia. Thus far, it has raised $39.5 million USD since its founding in 2018. Investors include East Ventures, MSA Capital, SMDV, Agaeti Venture Capital, and Alto Partners Multi-Family Office.
Last year, Fore Coffee added herbal drinks to its menu and 1-litre iced café latte bottles. The year before, they collaborated with hotel chain Airy Indonesia to expand its stores to additional areas.
The Fore Coffee app offers promotions, fast one-click delivery, pre-order options to avoid queuing and cost savings through their subscription model.
Coffee tech startups in Singapore might have an advantage over others in the region because of the country’s government support for digital advancements. These supports offer local companies money to implement e-payments, QR codes, and other strategies designed to survive the impact of COVID-19.
As demand for coffee rises in the region, coffee tech startups in Southeast Asia will evolve to meet their customers’ needs. Better service delivery, greater investment, and improvements in coffee brew quality will determine which companies will thrive.