Anyone who’s Tinder’d, Bumble’d, Farmers Only’d or Gluten Free Singles’d their way through the modern dating landscape is bound to have come across some duds.
Even finding just the right coffee match can be a bit of a lonely fool’s game, although a new roasting and pairing service called Matchmaker Coffee has a Cupid’s bow aimed straight at the hearts of the most coffee-curious consumers.
Debuting about a month ahead of the widespread COVID-19 shutdowns, the company has had to adapt its early operating procedures, while also adjusting to rapidly changing market demand.
“Things have been interesting over the past few weeks; we’ve lost some subscribers who are in a tight situation financially as well as our larger office clients, but have gotten new subscribers because of the shelter in place/work from home,” Pabari told DCN, noting that the company donated all its March profits to COVID-19 relief efforts. “We’re pretty grateful though for our situation. I know a lot of my other roaster friends can’t really say the same.”
The Roasters Pack gives subscribers a set of three new coffees per month from a roster comprising some of Canada’s most quality-focused specialty coffee roasters. While that service appeals to serial coffee daters, Matchmaker is designed to form happy long-term relationships.
“After running The Roasters Pack for over 5 years, we’ve learned a ton about what people want out of their coffee,” Pabari recently told Daily Coffee News. “Some people love the variety, which is where The Roasters Pack comes in, but some people just want a consistently delicious coffee at an affordable price. The issue is that ‘delicious’ is completely different depending on the person.”
With that in mind, the Matchmaker process begins with the purchase of a six-coffee variety pack in recyclable bags, with coffees that are identified only by number. Users rate each coffee on a Matchmaker-supplied scorecard — or they can take an online quiz with or without the variety pack. Based on the subscription preference, Matchmaker then creates and ships bags of fresh-roasted coffees tailored to users’ individual taste preferences.
The Matchmaker team is currently roasting on a Loring machine powered by Canadian clean energy systems provider Bullfrog Power at another roasting company’s production headquarters in Toronto, while sourcing greens from a number of importers, including Olam, Caravela and Sucafina.
Each six-coffee tasting set is designed to offer a range of coffee roast levels, flavors, bodies, aromas and other attributes. Users are encouraged to brew each coffee just as they normally would at home.
“How the customer is brewing the coffee is a variable that we can’t control when we’re nerding out about coffee during our cupping sessions,” said Pabari. “So it’s important to have that element brought into the scoring.”
Scores provided by users are then paired with the Matchmaker roasting team’s internal notes on coffees and blends of coffees to run through an algorithm that generates initial recommendations. A human then compares the users’ scores and comments to ultimately settle on the best available option.
“That could be a single-origin coffee or it could be a blend,” Pabari said of what gets shipped to subscribers. “If the data shows that the customer is appreciating a range of coffees, we’ll send them different coffees each month that fit that range of what they like.”
Of course, user preferences can always be tweaked based on continued feedback, as the algorithm adjusts or even as their tastes in coffees change. In a sense, this approach is the antithesis to the Third Wave movement, and even services such as The Roasters Pack, where typically it’s the roasters telling customers what they should like and why.
“Most roasters will be very much focusing on explaining why their coffee is good — whether it’s the roasting, the sourcing, the producer, the washing station, the terroir, et cetera,” said Pabari. “Realistically, though, only a segment of coffee drinkers care about the depth we as specialty roasters are going to in order to have a really good cup of coffee.”