What is a private label coffee?

A private label or white label coffee is produced by a private roasting house, can be packaged with your branding, and sold through your distribution channels. Consistency and quality are key when it comes to creating a bespoke coffee blend for your business. The word blend means to combine a number of coffees to deliver a distinctive flavour. If this is not tightly controlled through production, then consistency and quality cannot be guaranteed. Here is what you need to know if you are thinking about creating your own private label coffee blend.  

Who needs a bespoke coffee blend?

A bespoke coffee blend can introduce a unique selling point to your business and secure the loyalty of customers. At Lincoln & York we are working with small coffee shops and coffee pod producers to large scale manufacturers using coffee as an ingredient. We also support restaurants, pub chains, hotels, cold brew manufacturers, and distributors with their own clients. Producing anything from a small sachet of coffee up to a 500kg bulk sack.

What is the process for creating a private label coffee?

A reputable private label coffee roaster and supplier, such as Lincoln & York, can guide you through the process.

Firstly, we need to understand what is the nature of your business and what are your objectives? Who will your customers be and how should the coffee be packaged? Does your private label coffee need to tell a story, will it need to be certified? What is happening in the market and where will you sit? In terms of the blending, the processes you might be using on site, the handling equipment and machinery, and any additives to the coffee such as milk will all influence the approach to creating the perfect blend. For example, a darker roasted product contains more oils which can cause problems if the equipment or machinery being used is not designed to handle it. Will an espresso blend or a filter blend be better suited to your customers and requirements and what is the quality to price ratio?

Every coffee bean has very distinct attributes which will make up the recipe of your perfect blend. Once we have determined the intended use of the resulting roast, we can begin to create the right flavours whether that is a darker easy drinking mild coffee for use in a garden centre café for example, or a lighter roast for a coffee house of discerning coffee aficionados. Coffees from different sources bring a multitude of flavour possibilities from sweet or smooth to acidic or spicy. 

What is Q grading?

Conceived by the Coffee Quality Institute, the Q grading scale was developed to improve the standards of coffee production by introducing a consistent, recognised scale of product attributes. By identifying these attributes and any defects, farmers can adapt and improve their products. A speciality coffee will score above 80 on the Q grading scale of 0-100, making it a top-quality bean which will command a higher price.

Being a Q grader is the equivalent of being a sommelier in wine tasting. It is a recognised qualification with Q graders able to score a coffee out of 100 points through smell and taste for flavour, acidity, body, consistency, and defects. Having gone through 22 examinations, a certified Q grader has a license to score coffee and there are currently around 60-80 qualified Q graders in the UK. The license is valid for 3 years at which time the Q grader must be re-assessed.


Are we seeing any private label trends?

Coffee taste trends are quite cyclical, with many beginning in the US.

Cold brew in a ready to drink format is a fast-growing market and requires a unique, innovative approach to coffee blending.

Decaffeinated coffee products are increasing in popularity, and with quite a few different processes now available they are becoming a closer product in taste to a caffeinated coffee.  

We are also seeing a shift away from the darker roasted products towards the lighter roasts. A darker roasted coffee remains in the roasting process for a longer period which means this is the dominant flavour, whereas a lighter roasted coffee enables the flavour of the raw coffee product to come through. With people spending more time researching and tasting coffee products at home during the pandemic, we are seeing a more discerning coffee drinker on the high street that wants to know where the raw products come from and how they taste in various, now recognisable, combinations. 

What are the challenges in creating a bespoke blend coffee?

Many businesses are understandably keen to know the source of the raw product and trace it right back to a particular farm. This can be quite tricky to determine, as many coffee trades are in bulk volumes which is sourced from multiple farms in a particular region. Usually, in terms of sourcing raw product the more you pay for the product, the more you will know about it, but of course that does then make it more expensive through the supply chain.  Find out more about certification.

What are the benefits?

By creating something unique to offer through your business it gives you a point of difference from a customer experience perspective, thus encouraging loyalty, and from a marketing and business story position.  

At Lincoln & York we have blended dozens of unique coffee products for a variety of clients including, as an example, one start-up that was keen to shake-up the coffee market. They had ideas for a product range and seven years on, with our help, they have sold thousands of kilos of coffee and own an exciting and unique business worth over £10m.

The rewards are out there but you must get the product and positioning right. That takes the experience of an established coffee roaster that can design, consistently blend, and package your product at the correct price to suit your business’s wants and needs.

To find out more about what goes into creating the right coffee blend for your business Lincoln & York recently feature in the Perfect Daily Grind with insights from our Coffee Buying Manager Rebekah Kettrick and Coffee Taster, licensed Q grader and Innovator Kieran Power. 

If you would like to talk to us about creating a private label coffee, please contact our experienced team.