Legal Name: Local Joe LLC
Location: Chicago, IL
Founded: September 2017
INDUSTRY – USA Coffee Retail
Size: $46Bn in 2018 (Source: IBISWorld)
Javaya is a coffee-on-demand startup that curates and delivers small-batch craft coffee. It partners with some well-known local coffee artisans (“roasters”) to offer flavorful and fresh beans of this ‘morning elixir’ to aficionados.
This online marketplace selects roasters based on a stringent review process. In this way, the startup claims to make it possible to deliver only the highest quality coffee to customers. As of publishing, the Javaya website lists 21 popular roasters, including Illinois-based Metropolis, Michigan-based Theodore’s, and Virginia-based Red Rooster.
To get started on a Javaya coffee journey, the website directs customers towards an AI-powered quiz that helps the startup determine their exact coffee blend preferences. The quiz asks a user about the taste profile, mouthfeel, and “liveliness” of their ideal cup of coffee, and helps match the user to their coffee type.
“The problem with craft coffee is that, like any craft category, it can be a little high-brow and a little bit unapproachable,” Selman said to American Inno. “What we really wanted to do with Javaya was make it more approachable, more friendly and really a place where people interested in craft could learn a little bit more and feel included.”
Customers can also navigate through the 150 flavors of artisan coffee beans available on the website. To arrive at the product of choice, they can select from multiple filters such as roaster type, origin, roast level, acidity, and mouthfeel.
Customers can even choose large-sized (1lb to 5lb) coffee bean bags that are suitable to buy for the office, apart from coffee-related gear and merchandise (gifts, mugs, coffee storage, etc) on the website.
Once the order is placed, the roasters themselves will roast, package and ship coffee beans directly to the customer within the same day (depending on the shipping method opted for). This model doesn’t include any middleman or warehouses.
Javaya operates under the belief that excellent coffee is made from beans that were roasted 3 to 14 days ago. Since the coffee ships just hours after roasting, the beans arrive just when it hits peak flavor. So, all coffee labels featured on their site come with a Future Fresh® Date, which is the ‘the day in the future when your purchased craft coffee will be roasted, packaged and shipped to you’.
“On the back end, as customers are placing orders, we’re aggregating everything into one database, then organizing everything by roasting date. It’s almost like we’re operating a digital warehouse or demand planning platform,” Nick Selman said to BuiltinChicago.
Pricing of the range of handcrafted coffee listed on Javaya starts at $1 per ounce. This is similar to or slightly more expensive than what customers get in grocery stores, but that is the cost of convenience and extra freshness. Those looking to save an extra 5% discount on the retail price can opt for the $2.99 monthly subscription.
Javaya even has a rewards program that offers members-only perks to users who sign up and earn Golden Beans for different actions around the site. What’s more, Javaya claims to offer ‘Craft Coffee’s first-ever 100% satisfaction guarantee’. This means that if a customer doesn’t enjoy the coffee, they get to register a complaint and return it for a full refund.
Javaya pays roasters for the coffee they sell and receives a cut for every transaction.
Origin and Founding Team
Jasen Holley and Nick Selman met in MBA school, the University of Notre Dame, where they recognized their shared love for fresh and locally roasted coffees. Though their hometown of Chicago always had plenty of great local coffee roasters, they still needed to drive down to the store or cafe to enjoy their favourite brews. Another pain point they faced was that the coffee available in stores was usually not fresh since it was kept in shelves for months past optimal freshness.
This drove them to start Javaya. Not only did the startup make fresh and high-quality coffee easily available to customers, but it also helped roasters improve their sales and reduce wastage.
“Today, roasters have to predict what they think customers are going to want to buy and a lot of coffee goes to waste,” said Selman to Built in Chicago. “We’re operating a digital shelf, and roasters are only producing what we’ve pre-sold.”
Currently, Javaya employs three people. It operates under the aegis of tech incubator 1871.
Performance and Trends
Javaya has sold “tens of thousands of dollars worth” of coffee in the last two years, according to a feature in American Inno.
In August 2018, the company announced intentions to raise funding of $250k from friends and family. They planned to use this money to work on upgrading Javaya’s tech and marketing. However, there is no public announcement of the company having secured the investment.
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