A few months ago, I gave an update on coffee operations at Cameron’s during the pandemic. The key points were:
- While we will all remember the negative impact of Covid-19, my hope was for 2020 to be remembered for the tireless and inspiring efforts of our nation’s frontline heroes battling this invisible enemy.
- Cameron’s employees followed CDC protocols to maintain operations, keeping our supply of coffee flowing to market.
- With the increase of Americans working from home, the demand for coffee purchased in grocery stores spiked.
These points remain relevant with the added factor of overall virus fatigue. But hope is growing. Hope in the form of vaccines being approved for distribution. I dare to dream that most people wanting a vaccine are vaccinated by September 2021. If this is the case, we have many months remaining before we are out of the woods. We will continue to focus on safe coffee operations, with the following actions:
1. Stay positive: We discuss among our team how fortunate we are to live in a country where distribution is a strength. We can deliver anything, anywhere at any time in this great country of ours. Despite deep cold storage needed for the vaccine, I am confident in the behind the scenes, selfless teams that will guide distribution efforts.
2. Support the plan: The Cameron’s teams will plan on delivering coffee without a vaccine for some time. Front line workers will and should be prioritized, as should the elderly and many other key groups. We wish the decision makers in this area well in navigating the needs of many. Not an easy task. I have found tough decisions rarely satisfy everyone.
3. Keep making Always Smooth, Never Bitter coffee: It’s what we do, and it’s what people want from us. We’re just a little coffee company located in Shakopee, Minnesota, but our impact continues to grow. We have been one of the fastest growing coffee brands in the U.S. for the past 4 years. Our mission has been to elevate the at-home coffee experience, providing a great tasting coffee at a fair price. The increase in at-home work due to the virus has increased people trying our coffees. From our leading Breakfast Blend items to our fast-rising Sea Salt Caramel Blend, growth has been consistent across our portfolio. Our consumers generally call in expressing their initial concern of “will it taste good” due to our low price (vs. the super-premium brands), then are delighted. We have some of the highest repeat rates in coffee thanks to all of you.
Of note, our CDC protocols remain in place at our roastery. Some groups have reached out for tours, but we have had to politely decline as it is not appropriate to risk exposure to our hard-working teams. Our front office continues to work from home, doing a great job despite virtual meeting fatigue. In the end, we recognize that we at Cameron’s are very fortunate to be in a business that was deemed critical infrastructure. Our stress has been keeping up with demand, not having demand eliminated due to the virus. I truly believe that as we get through this we will lift up as a nation to take care of each other.
As we look ahead, we are maintaining a stockpile of great coffee to maintain roasting through the winter months. If you have noticed, Cameron’s has generally always been in stock at your local store shelf. Our logistics team is second to none in partnering with our retailer partners.
There are a few changes to normal coffee purchases or consumer behavior during the pandemic:
- More consumers who were buying coffee from coffee shops have purchased a Keurig single serve machine. Convenience is likely key with this consumer. We hope they discover the great taste of our EcoPod versus the standard plastic k-cup.
- Larger sizes, like our 2 LB Valve Bags, are doing increased business as consumers are stocking while making less trips to grocery stores.
- Cameron’s holiday flavors (Pumpkin Spice, Crème Brulee Latte, White Chocolate Peppermint and Winter Blend) sold out faster than previous years, suggesting the thirst for normalcy over the holidays.
As we watch the trends, we will adapt to support our loyal fans’ needs. I remain proud of our team for their commitment to safety and providing our fans the coffee they love. As I said before, it is truly an honor to work with my fellow team members at Cameron’s.
Let me end with my core belief that safer times are ahead. At-home demand will continue to be strong throughout 2021, with more normal days increasing throughout 2022. When looking back on these times, let us continue to remember the work and sacrifice done across our great nation by our frontline heroes. We will have done our small part to keep them awake during their heroic acts.
Be safe. Care for others. Drink good coffee.