7 Questions to Ask a Wholesale Coffee Partner - Ember Coffee Co.

7 Questions to Ask a Wholesale Coffee Partner

Coffee is more than just a drink; it’s a part of our daily routine and plays a big role in our lives. If you sell coffee, whether you brew it yourself or resell it, you know it’s important to have great quality. Finding the right wholesale coffee partner is key, and you probably have a lot of questions:

  • Will they understand and support my business?
  • Will they be there when I need them?
  • Can I trust them to deliver on time?

We understand, and we’re here to help. As you look for the perfect partner, we’ve put together some important questions to ask. These will help you sort through your options and find a partner who is more than just a supplier, but a real supporter of your coffee business.

What is a wholesale coffee partner?

A wholesale coffee partner is a business that focuses on roasting coffee beans in large amounts and then selling these roasted beans in bulk to other businesses. These companies usually work on a B2B (business-to-business) model, supplying coffee to shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels, offices, and other places that serve or sell coffee to people. Wholesale coffee roasters are important because they make sure there’s always a steady supply of high-quality coffee for their clients.

Wholesale Coffee Partner vs. Coffee Distributor

You might wonder how a wholesale coffee partner is different from a coffee distributor. When you work with a wholesale coffee partner, you deal directly with the company that finds the green coffee beans, roasts them, and packages them. On the other hand, a coffee distributor works with various coffee roasting companies and sells their products. The advantage of working directly with the roaster is that you can have a closer relationship with the company that makes your coffee. This means faster communication and feedback, more flexibility, and better knowledge of the industry. Working with a distributor gives you access to a wider variety of coffee brands and products, but they might not have as much in-depth knowledge about coffee as the roaster.

What to look for in a wholesale coffee partner?

Choosing the right wholesale coffee partner is very important if you run a cafe, restaurant, retail store, or any other place that serves or sells coffee. You’ll want to make sure your partner is consistent, reliable, quick, and above all, honest. Here are seven questions we recommend you ask to find the best wholesale coffee partner:

1. What is their reputation?

Reputation is very important. Look at how they treat their customers. Do they spend quality time in person? Do they treat each customer as if they are the most important, or do they neglect some? Start with online reviews, but also ask for references from a few of their current or past customers.

2. How do they source their coffee?

Knowing where they get their coffee can tell you a lot about the reliability and quality of their products. Do they get their coffee through green coffee distributors, importers, exporters, or directly from the growers? Have they built good relationships with their green coffee suppliers? Do they share details about how the coffees were grown, their type, altitude, harvest time, and how they were processed? The better the relationship a coffee roaster has with their green coffee suppliers and the more they share, the lower the risk of getting poor quality coffee or having supply problems. Also, ask about their pricing to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

3. What types of roasts do they offer?

Every roaster has their specialties—certain types of coffee or roast styles they are known for. Find out if they have the coffee types and roast styles that your customers like. Ask about the range of roasts they offer, from bold and dark to light and bright, and see if they have a good selection that suits your customers’ tastes. If your customers like darker coffees, they should taste rich and smooth, not too bitter. If they prefer lighter roasts, they should taste bright and delicate, not sour or tart.

4. What is their policy on freshness?

Coffee tastes best a few days to a month after it’s roasted. Specialty coffee roasters often roast their coffee only when they have orders, and ship it the same day or the day after roasting. This makes sure you and your customers get the freshest coffee. Avoid coffee that has been sitting on a shelf before you order it. Make sure your customers are happy with the roast dates they see on the coffee.

5. Do they require contracts or offer terms?

It’s common for wholesale coffee partners to ask you to sign a contract for a year or more to get the best prices, and they may also require minimum orders. This helps them plan their sales, but it might not help you. Some wholesale partners, like us, don’t require contracts. We believe a wholesale relationship should be based on trust and mutual benefits, aiming to improve both the customer experience and the business on both sides. You should get real benefits for your customers and your bottom line from your wholesale coffee partner, and they should too.

6. Will they be a resource for brewing advice?

Your wholesale coffee partner should know the best ways to brew their beans. They should also help you get the most out of their coffee. Many wholesale partners have experience running coffee shops or cafes and can be a great resource for advice on bar flow, equipment, and how to brew. Even if you’re not local, it’s important to find a wholesale partner who can guide you on how to best brew their coffee so that you and your customers are happy with what you offer.

7. Will they be available?

One of the last things to check is if they’ll be available when you need them. If you’re starting a new cafe, you might still be figuring out how often you need to order, or you might need help as your business grows. Your wholesale coffee partner should be easy to reach and willing to help you solve problems, offer advice on best practices for your bar, equipment, and maintenance, and be supportive. A good partner will be invested in your success.

Deciding on your wholesale coffee partner isn’t just about the cost and products; it’s also about building a relationship. Finding a partner who supports you and helps you grow will benefit both your business and your customers. If you are looking for a wholesale coffee partner, we at Ember Coffee would love to work with you. We strive to support those who aim for excellence in their offerings, service, and customer experiences.

Ready to get started? Let’s partner →