Over the past decade, Cayman’s coffee scene has grown rapidly, offering a wide range of options for java lovers to get their caffeine fix.
Paradise Coffee, in business since 2006, has grown into a successful coffee and coffee accessory distribution business that supplies Cayman’s coffee-lovers with their essential cup of “joe.”
But although the business is thriving now, it was a tough start for the partners. Eight years ago, Paradise Coffee’s roaster Fritz Sajovitz says breaking into Cayman’s coffee business was slow going.
“The business was modeled on one that we had seen working successfully in Bermuda, offering a revolutionary single brew pod coffee system,” he explains, “but breaking into the market here was difficult initially. It was tough cold-calling and just getting a foot in the door, building up trust and creating relationships.”
Spreading the word
But business partners Sajovitz and Gary Sheppard say that their belief in the quality of their product meant they would not give up in Cayman, so they kept up their efforts to spread the word about their particular coffee system.
“We knew it could work,” Sheppard says.
Building a solid reputation among local restaurants, hotels and retail outlets such as supermarkets was key in getting Paradise Coffee off the ground. Finally, Sajovitz says, they had a breakthrough in 2008 with the advent of Keurig K-cups, a new pod system that was speedy, convenient and not as messy as the previous pod system. It was immediately well received.
Sheppard says, “Sales began to increase straight away. It was the perfect solution for coffee drinkers, both residential and commercial customers. People would buy a system for their homes and want one for their office, and vice versa.”
Supermarkets began stocking both the coffee machines and the coffee K-cups. Sheppard says the variety of beverages available is huge, and they stock not only coffee, but also decaffeinated coffee, teas, hot chocolate, cappuccinos, iced teas and iced coffees. Nowadays, Paradise Coffee offers products by some of the biggest names in coffee, including Green Mountain, Starbucks, Tully’s, Newman’s Own, Diedrich, Caribou, Coffee People, Wolfgang Puck, Donut House, Gloria Jean’s, Java One, Reunion Island, Marley, Gevalia, Celestial Seasonings, Twinings Teas, Organa Teas, Café Escapes and more.
With the success of their growing business, Sheppard, Sajovitz and their other business partner Kevin Hunter decided to expand their product line in 2012 by investing in their own roaster, offering customers fresh coffee on demand. Their roaster is housed at their showrooms in the Mirco Centre in George Town, a location which also sells Paradise Coffee products to retail customers.
“We talked about roasting our own coffee back in 2006,” Sheppard says, “but we realized we needed to focus first on the K-cups distribution initially, so we always kept the idea in the back of our minds.”
Sajovitz explains that coffee has a very short shelf life once it is roasted, just a matter of a few short weeks, and nothing short of flushing it with nitrogen will keep it fresh (as is the case with K-cups), not even keeping coffee in the fridge or freezer – a popular myth.
“Having an expiration date on coffee is pretty useless unless you know when the coffee was roasted,” he says, “as it could have been sitting on a supermarket shelf for years. Our coffee, which we roast in very own custom-built roaster, has the date of roasting printed on the pack.”
Paradise Coffee offers its own label of freshly roasted and ground coffee in a variety of blends using green coffee beans from some of producers Brazil, Colombia, Tanzania, Sumatra, Honduras and Costa Rica.
In addition, they use Swiss water-decaffeination Colombian beans, which means no chemicals have been used to eliminate the caffeine from their decaffeinated products. Fair trade and organic products are used where possible, the former ensuring that workers in the countries where the beans are harvested are properly paid and treated fairly.
Unique to Cayman
Sajovitz says that having control over roasting the beans means he can decide on the flavor by amending the strength – mild, medium or dark, with different blends adding their own unique accents – livelier, flatter, smooth or smoky. Beans take just a few minutes to roast, and Paradise Coffee provides coffee in a variety of bag sizes to suit the tourist, residential and commercial markets.
Sajovitz also creates his own blends unique to Cayman: Black Coral, which is the darkest roast, Cayman Gold, a medium blend, Good Morning Cayman, the perfect pick-me-up, a rich Coconut Cream and a Seven Fathoms rum-infused blend, with rum from the Cayman Distillery. The company also offers two flavored coffees, Hazelnut and French Vanilla.
Commercial customers can get their own unique custom roast and even custom labeling and packaging if they want.
Paradise Coffee also offers customers a selection of water products, including reverse osmosis systems, bottle-less water coolers, filtration systems, alkaline water and replacement filters, so coffee and tea drinkers alike can be safe in the knowledge that the water they are using to brew their coffee is as pure as the coffee itself, all adding up to the perfect cuppa.
Sheppard says Paradise Coffee has focused heavily on customer service and that, combined with a steadily built reputation offering speedy and excellent service, along with top quality products, is a surefire blend for success.