NEW YORK, U.S. — Trade, the coffee subscription brand enabling consumers to unlock specialty coffee at home, is pleased to announce a $9 million financing round led by Madrona Venture Group with the continued support of original partners JAB and Launch. Trade is on a mission to inspire better brewing by connecting coffee drinkers to the best craft coffee roasters. Through Trade, customers are able to discover new coffee and support local at a national level while small, independent businesses are gaining access to new consumers nationwide.
Since its launch in 2018, the coffee subscription brand has built a base of loyal subscribers with 90% retention after the first order and has seen explosive growth in recent months more than tripling subscribers. With the new funding, Trade will further articulate its brand story to reach a wider audience, develop roaster support tools, and deliver great coffee experiences, enabling the service to attract new customers and in turn continue to help roasters thrive.
“People are brewing at home more now than at any point in this century, yet the buying experience hasn’t changed in decades. Our customers are passionate about good coffee, but struggle to find different brands and specialty coffees that meet their expectations for taste, quality and sourcing. Our brand and platform that connects coffee drinkers to roasters solves that problem. Through our curated selection, personalization technology and modern supply chain, Trade is opening specialty to a broader audience and will propel the category to capture a larger share of the $55B US coffee market,” commented Mike Lackman, CEO of Trade. “Madrona’s marketplace and e-commerce expertise make them the perfect partner as we continue toward this vision.”
“The specialty coffee market is highly fragmented, with amazing independent roasters all over the country serving local customers,” said Scott Jacobson, Managing Director at Madrona Venture Group. “While they roast great coffee, they have a hard time building their brand and scaling their business to reach a national audience. Trade helps them do just that, connecting roasters to customers across the U.S. who discover and delight in their product. We love marketplace businesses with strong value propositions to customers and suppliers, and are excited to partner with Trade to scale its marketplace for specialty coffee.”
Trade is at the intersection of two large and accelerating shifts in the American coffee market: the shift toward specialty coffee, and the shift to in-home consumption via brewing. In just two years, Trade has shipped more than one million bags of coffee; and the company expects to ship another million in the next six months. The additional order volume from Trade served as a lifeline to roasters when their retail operations and wholesale orders halted earlier this year and has now enabled many to resume growth. Will Shurtz, co-founder of Methodical Coffee of Greenville, SC says, “COVID has not just impacted, but completely changed our business. Before COVID, 90% of our roasting business was bulk orders for cafes and restaurants. Since joining the platform in March, Trade has grown to about 30% of our roasted coffee business.”
Trade’s 55+ roaster partners, spread across 38 states in the U.S., cite many other benefits to partnering with Trade, including operational efficiencies, a robust feedback loop to test and scale new coffees, and exposure to a broader audience. “Top line numbers aside, being able to support the producers we work with, the importers, keeping our staff employed, keeping the roasters busy, buying from our non-coffee suppliers too; that’s what’s meant the most to us,” says Trey Cobb, co-founder of Greater Goods Coffee Co. in Austin, TX. Aaron MacDougall of Broadsheet Coffee from Cambridge, MA echoes this sentiment: “There are other, more substantial benefits to the relationship. Trade enables us to reach new customers across the country, which is helping us build our brand that extends beyond our locality.”