23 - 26 September 2021 |The Truman Brewery
  • The Innovators

The Innovators

26 March 2018


Hugh Duffie and Luke Suddards went from behind the bar at Tap Coffee to founding one of the most innovative food and drink brands right now. Here, Hugh Duffie shares his learnings on how to build a successful business in 2018. 

1/ Tap into what people want  
We’re all about sharing specialty-grade coffee with as many people as possible through our cold brew format. Luke and I had started to think about setting something up together when we worked together as baristas at Tap. When our Tap cold brew constantly sold out, we put two and two together and decided to act on the demand. 
2/ Create whip-sharp branding 
First, we re-appropriated the flask format, which is normally only seen in booze, to grab attention and communicate the value of our drink. The barbells, our logo, came about through researching the Victorian strong man Eugen Sandow, who’s approach to bodybuilding used unusual, innovative training methods to achieve “the Grecian ideal”; the embodiment of masculine perfection. We drew a parallel with the way we brew our coffee overnight to draw out the smooth flavour and decided to name the brand in homage to him.  


3/ Be relevant and inclusive 
We’ve always had a strong emphasis on design and hospitality across our presentation. We think it’s pretty special that we sell something that feels premium and polished, yet only costs a couple of quid. Strong visuals like our crossed barbells help to build trust that Sandows is all about quality and creativity. Coffee experts and newbies alike can subscribe to that.  
4/ Build brand personality 
It’s really important that you have a consistent and distinctive tone and style. We’ve always used Instagram to show and tell what we’re doing and what it means to us. We target people like ourselves, so if we think something is cool, we don’t worry too much about whether it’s right or not.  That’s been really useful for maintaining momentum.  


5/ Pioneer your area 
We’ve worked hard to actually create a market for ready-to-drink cold brew here in the U.K. As the first brand in the space, we had to focus on education and sampling, which have been integral to our growth over the last four years. We take the responsibility of ensuring the experience is distinct and recognisably different from “iced coffee” very seriously. That’s why we’ve kept it all black and not added milk or sweetener, even though it would have made life easier in the short term. 
6/ Keep innovating 
We have spent the past year developing new canned products, which will launch at the London Coffee Festival this year. It’s been a huge amount of work over 18 months, and they represent a huge progression for us (we’ve produced 100,000 of each variant), so we really can’t wait for people to try the new cans. Cold brew is the sort of product that you can become obsessed with, but it can be a bit of an acquired taste. We’re catering for those who want to drink great coffee everyday without breaking the bank. Going forward, we hope to have our products available in major retailers whilst continuing to support our ever growing network of independent cafes, restaurants and bars. And, in time, we hope to grow internationally. 

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