Published 9 September 2021
by Henry Southan
Grind, the cult London coffee company founded in 2011 by David Abrahamovitch and Kaz James in Shoreditch, has raised £22 million through a new funding round. The company, known for its cinema-like frontages, house blend, and pancake stacks, has its eyes set on the US and wants to take its at-home coffee products onto the world stage.
This second stream of revenue has now become part of the fabric of Grind’s set-up – a necessary one – and the pastel pink aesthetic is a step away from the urban chic of its shops.
Cafés have been some of the hardest hit businesses throughout the pandemic.They had to close in lockdown, and also suffered when workers didn’t return to their office buildings, instead choosing to work from home, when restrictions eased.
Grind founder David Abrahamovitch said at the height of the pandemic: “There’s a whole eco-system of businesses that rely on people taking tubes and trains into central London.” Cafés, in particular, need – or, in some cases, needed – this passing trade and footfall to survive.
Grind wasn’t alone in launching retail products as a way of trading while physical spaces were closed.
Others include Tommy Banks’s ‘Made In Oldstead’ food boxes, and Simon Rogan’s ‘Home by Simon Rogan’ meal kits. Both chefs continue to offer the at-home service for their customers due to their popularity. A recent study by Lumina Intelligence found that “in January 2021, one in five UK consumers had already purchased a meal kit, while over a third (35%) expressed a future intention to do so.”
Still, while the move helped, Abrahamovitch told CODE that Grind’s at-home items were in the pipeline for some time, and it wasn’t a direct reaction to the pandemic: “Lots of places started doing at-home meal and cocktail kits which were more of a reaction to the pandemic. We were already ramping up and starting to accelerate at the end of 2019. Covid just supercharged everything.”
Talking about when retail sales started increasing, Abrahamovitch said: “It led us to buy a whole new roastery, lots of new equipment, hiring more people and building a new e-commerce focused website.”
The e-commerce focus is apparent on Grind’s website. In fact there seems to be little mention of their cafés and restaurants at all, with retail products being the primary focus.
Grind launched its Nespresso-style coffee machine named ‘Grind One’ in December 2020, which is “inspired by the Italian espresso machines used every day in Grind’s London café’s.”
On the future plans for Grind and their expansion, Abrahamovitch told CODE: “We will be starting direct-to-consumer deliveries across the States, and also Europe. You’ll be able to order from our website and receive the products in a couple of days, no matter where you are.”
This won’t be the first time Grind products have been seen overseas, however: “We already have a presence globally with Soho House.” The partnership makes them the exclusive coffee provider for their properties internationally, from the ‘bean to cup’ coffees in their restaurants and clubs, to the Nespresso pods in their hotel rooms.
While lots of other plans are still under wraps, Abrahamovitch hinted of upcoming plans for “physical stores in the US in cities where it makes sense to do that”. Grind will, he said, “build the brand from there.” But it’s retail that’s winning for now.