“If you love coffee, you will be amazed by Café del Volcán,” reads the quote by an ICS news anchor about Café del Volcán in Shanghai, China. The English-speaking China-based International Channel Shanghai recently featured Café del Volcán, a specialty coffee boutique, in their live evening news broadcast covering the challenges and rewards of foreign entrepreneurship in Shanghai.
This successful and uniquely foreign-run specialty coffee business gives us a glimpse of its endeavors in the rapidly growing Chinese coffee market.
About Café del Volcán
Conceived in 2011, Café del Volcán was the culmination of years dedicated to growing the specialty coffee market in Shanghai by co-founder Lindsay C. Messenger and Managing Director Nils Weisensee, who has been involved the field since 2008, when his previous delivery-only roastery was established. After discovering the market was too small at the time for relying only on home coffee consumption, the brick-and-mortar Volcán brand was born.
This small-batch boutique has a clear mission: generating the best possible flavour out of various single-origin beans. They execute this mission by using origins such as their signature Guatemala Santa Rosa beans from their namesake Faldas del Volcán estate, which has been in the family for five generations, since the late 1800s. For lighter roasts, they take pride in bringing out the full-bodied fruitiness of Ethiopian beans such as Hambela and Yirgacheffe, using professional coffee roasting methods to draw out the highest quality of flavour from such these exquisite beans. To top it all off, their professional baristas strive to create a consistently perfect cup of coffee, which their strong customer following enjoys time and time again. Not only that, Café del Volcán offers their beloved cup in a comfortable and inspiring atmosphere, to a broad array of customers.
“Our passion for coffee roasting lies in every step of the process” says Messenger, co-founder and Head of Business Development for Café del Volcán. This vision is mirrored in their business concept: Café del Volcan, a small-scale high-impact business, offering a large array of products and services, meeting the needs of customers in many segments of the coffee market. Not only does Café del Volcán offer a variety of freshly-roasted coffee beans, they also host free weekly coffee clubs and paid workshops, sharing their knowledge with others active in the growing Chinese coffee market.
A growing Chinese coffee market
Across China, coffee consumption is lower than in Western countries and it is generally seen as a luxury product and status symbol. However, it is on the rise—not only for public attention in well-branded cafes, but in homes and offices. On a retail level, the Chinese coffee market grew 30% in 2016. With increasing wealth and a non-stop work life for many city dwellers, major coffee chains like Starbucks and Costa have branches in every major city across China.
Using a Giesen Coffee Roaster
Five years ago, when Café del Volcán started roasting at their popular Yongkang Road, they used a small-scale ‘Made in China’ coffee roaster. As the market demand increased for specialty flavors, the company decided to upgrade their equipment. After many comparisons, they purchased the W6A Coffee Roaster. “The Giesen W6A supports our creative process—to develop roast profiles that bring out the full potential of every bean—in the Volcán style. With over a decade of combined experience, we definitely knew what we wanted,” said Messenger of her partner, Weisensee, and Volcán roastmaster, Sean Yin. “Giesen offered the technological capability and creative flexibility to tailor our roasts based on our unique, international expertise and taste.”
Looking ahead, Café del Volcán is ambitious: This year they will open two more coffee shops in Shanghai, and they have expressed interest in Chinese partners who share their vision. In the meantime they continue to grow their wholesale business and develop their training courses for baristas, roasters and coffee lovers in the ever-rising Chinese coffee market.