Two friends, Eugene Chen and Keyis Ng, realised just what a grip coffee has on Asians and found a gap in the market that hadn't yet been tapped into. And so Cafebond.com was launched - in Singapore in June, and Malaysia in October.
The website offers high-quality coffee blends from some of Australia's best coffee joints in Melbourne like Auction Rooms, Ona Coffee (home of 2015 World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic), Seven Seeds, Dukes Coffee, Wide Open Road and Market Lane as well as single origin beans sourced by the brand's coffee merchants.
Bags of 200 to 300g start at upwards of RM50 (S$16) with a flat shipping fee of RM10 and a guarantee that the product will arrive within 10 days of roasting.
What's great about the site is the sheer variety of what's on offer. You'll find over 100 selections at any given time, making it the largest coffee collection available to Malaysians at the moment.
These include a selection of espresso roast and filter roast blends and single origin coffees, with detailed tasting notes and explanations about the beans and also the cafes. All you have to do is narrow your search according to your preference and navigate through the many options available to find your favourite ones.
Some of the best sellers on the site include the signature blends from ST ALi, Seven Seeds (both from Melbourne) and Ona Coffee (from Canberra).
The idea for the site was spurred by the Singaporean duo's holiday in Melbourne where according to Ng, they had one of the best cuppa ever at the popular coffee mecca, ST ALi.
"We then began to play with the idea of bringing the iconic coffee culture of Melbourne back with us to Singapore. We wanted to bring home the distinctive flavours found only while drinking Australian coffee and establish a platform that would allow people to connect and share global cultures through coffee. That idea is what led us to founding Cafebond.com," says Ng.
Ng combined his background in marketing with Chen's expertise in coding to develop the site. After persuading the Melbourne cafes to come onboard, they set about developing the site, and used the Eels system to consolidate orders. This also allowed them to lower shipping fees to a flat RM10, regardless of the size of the order.
For context, the cost of shipping 250g of coffee beans (which retails at around RM50) from Australia to Malaysia through an international courier company is around RM150 - three times the price of the beans! With Cafebond.com's system, orders are collated on a weekly basis and delivered to the company's Malaysian office in Johor, thus ensuring a minimal shipping fee is incurred.
This system also feeds into the site's guarantee that beans will be delivered within 10 days of being roasted. The site's system works this way: every Monday at 2359 hours, the order window is closed; on Tuesday, coffee is prepared by cafes in Australia, either roasted to order or from their latest roast. On Wednesday, the beans are shipped from Australia to Malaysia, after which Cafebond.com carries out next day delivery.
"For freshness of coffee beans, it will be around one to two weeks old, which is the optimal period to use it for brewing," says Ng.
This is a view echoed by Sestic, who said in an interview with Today newspaper in Singapore, "We recommend customers enjoy the coffee from day nine or 10 and up to three-and-a-half to four weeks, depending on the coffee. We usually write down that we prefer you to finish the batch within 30 days of being roasted," he says.
In terms of price point, RM50 and above for specialty coffee is actually very competitive, says Ng. "The price on Cafebond.com is similar to the offerings of Malaysia's locally roasted specialty coffee bean products and the pricing you see on the platform is similar to what you get in store directly at the cafes in Australia," he explains.
In fact, Ona Coffee charges a A$10 (RM33) delivery fee within Australia, so in some instances, the coffee might even work out cheaper if you order it on Cafebond.com.
Since the site launched in Singapore, it has served over 1,000 customers and the duo expects response to be even better in Malaysia. But Ng says Melbourne cafes are just the starting point for the more global trajectory they have in mind.
Other coffee-centric cities are on their radar, with Tokyo being their next point of focus.
Ng also adds that while the initial target demographic of the site was regular coffee junkies, they now know there is a demand for specialty coffee among corporate consumers looking for (and often in desperate need of) good quality coffee to keep them fuelled through long office hours.
This has led to the conceptualisation of the soon-to-be-launched Cafebond for Offices to fill the void in the market.
Cafebond.com will also have a wholesale platform by the end of the year to cater to the positive response received from local cafes.
"We participated in a consumer food expo in KL and were quite surprised by the overwhelming wholesale requests we got from independent cafe owners around Malaysia who would like to use our coffee beans at their cafes," says Ng.
While the site is currently only available in Singapore and Malaysia, expansion plans are in the works and according to Ng, the site will be launched in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong early next year.