We are leaders, not followers: Kim Thompson, RAW Coffee


August 17, 2023 | By Anurima Das

UAE-based homegrown brand and a hub for coffee lovers, RAW was started by two “bootleggers” who would bring coffee beans to Dubai in their suitcases from their favourite roasteries around the world. That’s how much they missed high-quality, specialty coffee. It was in July 2007 that Founder, Owner & Managing Director Kim Thompson, and Owner and CEO, Matt Toogood decided it was “time” to fill the gap for freshly roasted specialty coffee by setting up RAW Coffee Company.

The coffee beans used at RAW are ethically sourced, organically certified, roasted in small batches and available to sample from their warehouse roastery, either as single origins or blends. Today, the RAW Coffee Company is recognised internationally in the specialty coffee community as a market leader in the UAE specialty coffee segment.

“We are leaders, not followers. We are early adopters and have a strong sense of worth. The specialty coffee market here in the UAE might be saturated now, as is the café scene. But we were among the first movers in the specialty coffee segment,” Thompson said.

To remain relevant in a highly competitive market, RAW is now focusing on providing end-to-end business solutions to its B2B customers. “Now this is our core business, silently driving our success from behind the scenes,” she shared. “The F&B market is demanding higher quality over volume. Therein we are assisting our B2B customers to steer away from traditional old-fashioned procurement and sales methodologies using analytics, helping shift perceptions to understand how improved quality will increase sales and drive brand loyalty.”

So, how does the brand guarantee the seal of quality?

“Supplying freshly roasted, ethically sourced, direct trade coffee, our team assesses all these components needed to deliver consistent quality. Add to that offering design and white label solutions and water solutions, training baristas and finding the right equipment for them, crafting menus and overall acting like a business partner than just a supplier. That’s how we consistently deliver quality,” Thompson explained.

RAW prides itself on being a business with a sustainable core. While the brand is built on a strong ESG foundation with real tangible values, it is now articulating these values clearly and loudly.

In this context, Thompson said, “Sharing measurable traceability and proving our direct and ethical supply chain is a huge differentiator. Further, we recently launched new recycled coffee packaging using dynamic QR codes allowing customers to delve deep into and connect with our coffee partners at origin.”

Always on top of beverage trends, in 2021 RAW added a premium quality B2B Matcha product, importing it from manufacturing partner Bon Accord New Zealand. “This raw green tea ingredient is from Japan, and since we introduced this product in 2021 our commercial sales have grown by a staggering amount year-on-year, with month-on-month sales consistently exceeding expectations. Our end consumers are now demanding direct B2C supply which we will soon be releasing at the RAW café and online,” Thomson shared.

To know more about the RAW story, join us at the Middle East Retail Forum 2023 where Kim Thompson will be speaking. Register now!

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