Someone preparing pour-over coffee

How 60beans Is Brewing Up the Perfect Blend for Europe’s Coffee Community

To bridge the gap between roasters and coffee enthusiasts, BCG Digital Ventures helped create a marketplace focused on specialty coffee.

60beans is a platform for a new generation of coffee consumers, providing the opportunity to purchase specialty coffee directly from local roasters across Europe. The unique marketplace — built through a joint partnership with Joh. Jacobs & Co. and BCG Digital Ventures (BCGDV) — also provides educational content around coffee flavors, equipment, and preparation. And with more than 25 active roasters and over 300 coffee products, the Berlin-based venture is already Europe’s largest active roaster community.

We sat down with 60beans’ COO, Ferdinand von Kalm, and BCG Digital Ventures’ General Manager Dirk Cohausz to spill the beans on how the marketplace will democratize access to specialty coffee across Europe, the focus on sustainability, and what future plans are brewing.

BCGDV: How did 60beans come about?

Dirk Cohausz: The coffee industry has seen sharp growth due to increased interest in specialty coffees. But in many cities, including Berlin, roasters mainly attract locals to their shops, which essentially limits their reach. We wanted to solve the problem by making specialty coffee accessible to everyone by giving roasters a direct connection with consumers and coffee enthusiasts. We have been working closely with the best European roasters from the start to learn how to meet consumer needs and, in turn, to give the roasters broader market access and expand their customer base.

BCGDV: How are you supporting the roasters with the new marketplace?

Dirk: The goal is to expand the ecosystem around the roasters, focusing more on them to attract international consumers and those who love coffee, but are not necessarily coffee nerds yet. We aspire to become the go-to destination for specialty coffee and an essential place where consumers can purchase products, coffee tools, and equipment, and gain knowledge. The specialty coffee community is massive and we want to build on that by having a space where the community of roasters can grow collectively.

BCGDV: What makes 60beans distinct from other marketplaces?

Ferdinand von Kalm: ​​To successfully run a marketplace, you have to be obsessed with the small things. At 60beans, we want our platform to be a one-stop shop for coffee enthusiasts. Consumers can both purchase freshly roasted specialty coffee and gain knowledge about different coffee types through our educational material. With the help of 60beans’ Tastefinder, coffee lovers can discover which coffees suit them by providing personalized product recommendations based on artificial intelligence. And we have a large network of roasters who then ship directly to the customer through our dropshipping model to preserve the freshness of the products. Our roasters, such as Röststätte from Berlin, Cycle Roasters from Lübeck, and Nomad from Barcelona, guarantee freshness by eliminating storage times at an intermediary.

BCGDV: Who is the 60beans consumer?

Ferdinand: We’re dealing with two different groups: the coffee aficionados, who I believe will notice us immediately, and the wider public. I think we will receive overall positive reactions amongst the first group regarding this unique partnership approach with roasters. But we’re also hoping to raise awareness among the general audience, so they can better understand what we do and how we can serve them.

BCGDV: The coffee industry has changed throughout the years for many reasons, one being the impact of climate change. What role does sustainability play in 60beans’ marketplace?

Ferdinand: As with many commodities like cocoa and vanilla, the complexity of the coffee industry can make it challenging to identify the source. Many small farmers all over the world deliver their products to larger enterprises that then mix the different coffee beans, making it very difficult to trace them. For that reason, you can purchase coffee without knowing its origin. However, working with selected roasters allows 60beans to provide consumers with detail-rich information such as the source of the beans, method of preparation, and ensure ethical compliance and fair working conditions for the farmers.

BCGDV: Where do you see 60beans in five years?

Dirk: We aim to expand to other European countries and create the go-to destination for coffee lovers and roasters. Our vision is to bring farmers closer to consumers to ensure traceability, better compensation, and improved working conditions. We also plan on having additional equipment providers on board, allowing our customers to purchase high-quality coffee tools and equipment.

BCGDV: What was the highlight of your experience working on 60beans?

Dirk: Before working on 60beans I considered myself a coffee expert, but I understood very quickly that there is a whole universe of coffee expertise out there. Alongside the venture-building challenges and excitement, working on 60beans allowed me to dive deeper into the world of specialty coffee and learn something new every day. For instance, as a team, we had a fun fact-of-the-day ritual during our standup where, in turn, one team member would share an interesting fact about coffee. We also visited a local roastery where we attended a coffee sensing and tasting class — similar to a wine tasting — to train our palates. At the end of the class, we did a blind test and learned how to differentiate specialty coffee from mass market coffee.

BCGDV: Ferdinand, you’re joining 60beans after founding a Berlin-based Mexican fast-food chain. Why did you decide to make the move?

Ferdinand: I grew up in Brazil, a country that has been a dominant producer of coffee since the 1840s. My family even had a few coffee plants in our garden, so you could say that coffee has been a part of my life since I was a child. 60beans has the perfect setup that caters to those with a strong interest and love for coffee while still educating them on the process. And, as a coffee enthusiast and someone who is always looking for impactful work, I’m excited about the opportunity of working on a product that will bring a daily moment of joy in the form of coffee to thousands of people.

Curious to test the 60beans platform and enjoy specialty coffee delivered to your doorstep? Visit the website here and use the discount code WELCOMETO60BEANS for 20% off* your order. (*Valid only in Germany and expires on October 31, 2022. The code can be used multiple times.)

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BCG Digital Ventures - Part of BCG X

BCG Digital Ventures - Part of BCG X

BCG Digital Ventures, part of BCG X, builds and scales innovative businesses with the world’s most influential companies.