How do you turn a big concept like specialty coffee into content that’s educational, digestible, and entertaining at the same time?
Tim Rogg, co-founder and the ‘brawn’ behind The Right Roast, has spent the last decade doing just that. Along with his wife Aiko, who makes up the ‘brain’ behind the brand, the creative duo have devoted their effort into building an ecosystem that unites roasters and consumers alike in an online marketplace that’s designed to grow into something so much more.
Tim started out in life with a passion for filmmaking.
“I grew up watching film and tv in the 1980s when the industry was not digital and I wanted a traditional career [in that field],”
says Tim. But as filmmaking rapidly migrated into digital in the 90s as he was properly getting into the business, Tim found himself a bit lost.
As a professional marketer, filmmaker, storyteller, and entertainer, Tim saw an opportunity to apply his skills to specialty coffee. “I started getting interested in specialty coffee around 10 years ago, which is also around the time I met my wife, and we thought this cool drink could be something we could talk about in a video,” he says. “Aiko didn’t have any filmmaking experience but I just gave her the camera with a few instructions and now she’s gone from being someone who didn’t really understand the filmmaking process to being in charge of photography and filming [for The Right Roast]. She’s an amazing producer,” says Tim.
What amazed Tim about the coffee industry is how there are so many people who are passionate and dedicated to so many things that have nothing to do with profit, including quality, traceability, and sustainability. That passion leads to great quality products but also gives rise to a wealth of information and knowledge. But as a consumer himself, Tim understands that huge amounts of information can be daunting for a lot of people who just want a great cup of coffee.
“When you’re trying to tell everyone about what you love about specialty coffee, make it fun. Make it easy. I always try to make my information that I’m both learning and sharing as simple and easy to grab hold of as possible,” says Tim.
The Right Roast started out as a Youtube channel in 2013 and launched their online specialty coffee marketplace in 2019, right before the pandemic hit. The marketplace doesn’t stock coffee, but instead aggregates the latest offerings from roasters around the world into one platform and purchases are shipped to buyers directly from the roasters for maximum freshness. “When we were approaching roasters about the concept, it seemed like a radical idea. And now it seems like the most normal thing. The pandemic has completely changed the world and made what we’re doing very vital and necessary,” says Tim.
The pandemic has been a game changer for specialty coffee at home and The Right Roast was fortunate to be able to launch at exactly the right time. “It’s a great chance to move rapidly on expanding our network of roasters and we’re seeing a lot of people jumping on board this concept,” he says. But the marketplace is only the beginning.
Tim’s vision is to provide a full-service platform to connect roasters and coffee lovers by applying all the tools, technology, media, and resources available. With the marketplace as the bedrock, there are plans to build a network of communities that exist in both the online and physical space, all sharing information and insights with one other about coffee.
“It’s like having a lounge environment, a shopping environment, and a chat environment but they all connect. We want to have a place where you can learn about the roaster by exploring a database of their coffee; what they were doing last year or what everyone was excited about because the roaster websites take those coffees away when they’re gone. You’ll be able to see that excitement and track the history of the roaster, short or long term,” says Tim. He told I AM NOT A BARISTA he can’t reveal too much, but from what he’s shared, we’re already excited about what’s to come.
For Tim and The Right Roast, customer care is really important when it comes to standing out from all the retail and subscription services that have popped up in the past year.
“Giving people great coffee is not a guarantee of success. We set the bar very high for ourselves and ‘coffee content community’ is our motto,” says Tim.
The Coffee Club Taster Set takes coffee subscriptions to the next level. It’s four samples each month, curated according to a theme, that come with a live tasting workshop with Tim, video interviews with each of the roasters, and soon, an online “bulletin board” where you can compare your tasting experience with coffee profiles shared by other people who enjoyed the Taster Set. “We want to do everything we can to make people feel like they’re sitting side by side with other members of the subscription service, learning from each other,” says Tim. “It’s educational and fun and that’s the exciting thing we can bring to the subscription model of specialty coffee.”
For someone with so much passion and appetite to learn everything he can about specialty coffee, one of Tim’s biggest challenges was to make his passion and ideas scalable. This is a common problem for creative minds who love to think big, but understand the reality of turning ambition into something that’s sustainable, scalable, repeatable, and always fresh. “You need to put ideas into a system or a framework that doesn’t require huge amounts of effort to repeatedly execute,” says Tim. Even a one-minute coffee review video takes 3-4 hours to film, edit, and post. Some mornings, Tim goes straight from bed to work with his morning coffee, notebook in hand to start profiling the beans.
What helps Tim consistently create “funformation” content is the sensibility to see things from somebody else’s point of view. “We focus on the person who would enjoy specialty coffee but doesn’t get into it because they’re nervous about the technical side or intimidated by the information and keep that person in mind whenever I convey information,” says Tim. “We don’t want it to feel exclusive or seem complicated, but we do want to convince you that it’s damn tasty.”