One of the largest German internet shops for premium coffee has a new owner.

The coffee company Melitta has now taken over the majority of the start-up Roastmarket, which was founded seven years ago, and nothing has been announced about the purchase price.

According to Melitta, the Frankfurt start-up is “the fastest growing European coffee specialist retailer” and will now be “provided with appropriate resources”.

The complete integration into the group is not planned.

Falk Heunemann

Business editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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In the Corona year 2020, Roastmarket doubled its sales to 23 million euros, the number of employees rose from around 50 to 122 at the same time. "We now have over 4000 products and 280 brands, and that is quite unique in this market," explains founder Boris Häfele. The idea for the company came to him as a student at the University of Frankfurt. At that time, the Hoppenworth & Ploch café chain, which now has three branches in the city, opened its very first coffee stand on campus, and queues were constantly forming there. He asked himself why it was so difficult to get good coffee. "There was no real specialist dealer who was known across the board," he then realized. Germany is the world's second largest coffee market, and in 2020 every German citizen drank an average of 168 liters.

Third wave and corona crisis

In the industry, there has been talk of a “third wave” for some time: the first established coffee as a mass product, the second brought about the renaissance of coffee house culture in the nineties and established the beverage as a luxury food.

And now more and more customers are interested in acreage, origin, roast and type of bean.

The “Specialty Coffee” market is therefore growing much faster than the coffee market as a whole.

According to the German Coffee Association, sales of whole beans rose by 26 percent in the Corona year 2020; they now account for more than a third of the roasted coffee sold in Germany. In contrast, sales of ground coffee are stagnating. Roastmarket has not only grown because of the pandemic and the home office trend, stresses Häfele. “Corona has of course also had an impact on ordering behavior, but not too much. Our growth came in particular through a clear customer focus and good marketing. "

In 2014, Häfele and Philip Müller founded their start-up, back then under the name “Leading Local Roasters”.

They considered the online perfume seller Flaconi, the fashion retailer Zalando and the pet food stores Fressnapf and Zooplus as role models for their concept of “curated diversity”.

The first brands in their range included Gorilla from the Joerges coffee roastery in Obertshausen, Supremo from Munich and Speicherstadt-Kaffee from Hamburg.

Don't be afraid of gorillas

Häfele observes that some interesting roasting plants are currently developing in Frankfurt.

“However, cities like Munich or Hamburg are much further ahead here.” The fact that the start-up was founded in Frankfurt was due to the fact that both founders were working in the city at the time, Häfele as a lawyer, Müller as a consultant.

The company headquarters can now be found on Stephanstrasse in the city center, while the central warehouse is in Hanau, where almost all products are stored.

Häfele and Gisbert Grasses are the managing directors, Müller has left the company.

The Melitta Group had already acquired a 25.5 percent stake in 2019.

Now the coffee company from Westphalia has increased to 72 percent.

28 percent belong to the Burda publishing house, which also has a stake in the Mainz wine online retailer Vicampo.

In the future, the company wants to offer even more accessories, among other things, said the managing director. The fact that more and more supermarkets started their own delivery services during the lockdown phase and that delivery companies such as Gorillas and Flink also promise delivery of coffee in 15 minutes is unproblematic for Roastmarket. “Competition stimulates business,” says Häfele. However, providers like Gorillas tend to compete with conventional supermarkets, since Roastmarket is a specialist retailer and has a much larger and more specialized range.