Years ago, I was a barista reading articles from Fresh Cup Magazine during slow periods at the café. I poured over the pages as I devoured turkey sandwiches during the lunch lull, excited and over-caffeinated. The stories of barista competitions, the how-tos on implementing a killer tea program, and the equipment breakdowns revealed a depth to our industry that wasn’t always easy to see in rural West Texas, far from the developments and innovation of the coasts and major metros.
Fresh Cup was a connection point for our humble independent coffee shop to the broader coffee world and a source of great inspiration for me. When Jan Weigel, one of the publication’s original founders and an industry legend in her own right, announced that she’d be retiring in 2020 and shutting down the publication, I knew the brand still had more to give. I reached out to Jan and asked if she’d consider handing the publication over to live a new life.
On April 18th, 2022, we announced Fresh Cup’s relaunch as a digital publication with a new team, new processes, and new vision for sharing stories that help us all reimagine what a balanced and prosperous coffee industry looks like. Now that our little publication has made one full trip around the sun (and ironed out a whole lot of kinks along the way), we’d like to reflect on some of the changes we’ve made—and where we’re going in the future.
Redefining Our Space
Coffee media is a fascinating sub-industry within the broader coffee world. So much about coffee is fascinating to enthusiasts, including the business of coffee. As a result, many coffee publications straddle the line between creating content for professionals and enthusiasts.
However, given the existential challenges facing our industry on every level, it’s clear that professionals need a place dedicated to their growth, empowerment, and success—that’s what we aim to be.
At Fresh Cup, we dive deep to tell stories and share ideas that equip coffee professionals of all stripes to do better for themselves, for their organizations, and for our industry as a whole. Here’s how we work to achieve that goal:
- We tell stories with an industry lens that’s practical and insightful for pros who want to use their positions to create a positive impact.
- We answer questions that might seem simple, but perhaps haven’t been answered or feel gatekept, like how much you should spend on rent or why baristas should be able to sit in chairs behind the counter.
- We get into the weeds of business mechanics, like how to make design choices, menu planning, and lease contracts, to help business leaders and industry dreamers make smarter decisions.
Fresh Cup is the home of conversations that are shaping our present—and will determine our future. We aim to provide relevant and timely stories that will help build a coffee industry that is financially sustainable, equitable across the supply chain, and directly addresses the hurdles we face environmentally and beyond.
Milestones From The Last Year
When we decided to relaunch Fresh Cup, we focused on the publication’s digital presence and getting information into the hands of as many readers as possible. In our first year, we achieved a lot, and I’d like to highlight some of the accomplishments I’m most proud of:
After nearly two years of silence from Fresh Cup, we quickly reestablished our website traffic to match 2020 averages of ~20,000 monthly readers. With a professional audience that’s 90% based in North America, this puts us in the same playing field as other niche B2B industry publications across the F&B and foodservice world. This was due to the incredible work of our editor, Ashley Rodriguez, and contributors, who published 250 articles (over 300,000 words) from April ‘22 through April ‘23.
I want to call specific attention to the Coffee News Club newsletter, a thoughtful reflection on headlines from around the coffee industry that we began sending in the summer of 2022. Fionn Pooler’s ability to see and understand trends over time is enlightening, and his semi-sassy voice makes the weekly newsletter fun to read.
Speaking of newsletters, I’m proud that we’ve managed to maintain a high degree of engagement across both our weekly newsletters (along with Coffee News Club, we also send The Filter, our Fresh Cup content and community newsletter—you can sign up to stay in the loop here). We average a 46.3% open rate and an 8.7% click-through rate (far above the media industry averages of 21.4% and 2.9%, respectively).
In December, we debuted a brand new look for Fresh Cup and rebuilt the website from scratch. Amazingly, the original Fresh Cup layout and design had not had any major changes in the thirty years since the magazine was first published, a testament to the power and strength of the original brand. Our new design outlook was inspired by the enduring legacy of the original brand while embodying a renewed optimism for our industry’s future. The redesign couldn’t have happened without the entire Fresh Cup team and Andrew Pautler, designer, developer, and founder of Pull & Pour.
None of what we do at Fresh Cup would be possible without our incredible sponsors, including Your Brand Cafe, Maya Tea, Cropster, NitroBrew, Usonian Systems, Pacific Foods, Spirit Tea, Flair Packaging, Upscribe, and Gosh That’s Good.
What’s Coming Down The Pipeline
Year two of Fresh Cup is already shaping up to be a huge one. We’re eager to share all the details, but for now, we’ll stick to a quick teaser of what to look forward to:
- Digital tools, templates, reports, event recordings, and resources to help our readers turn insights to into action
- A welcome care package for new coffee shop business owners (via snail mail)
- Results from our coffee business owner salary survey
- A new How To Handbook, a printed guide to running a coffee shop—this was a guide Fresh Cup used to publish, and we’re reimagining and bringing back as a physical resource
- First-of-its-kind video and audio content
Stay tuned—lots of fun announcements are on the horizon.
I hope we continue to inspire young baristas out there. I think of the baristas who feel now how I once felt: trying to learn everything they can about the world of coffee on their shift breaks by devouring any and every coffee article they can find. And I hope we can go a step further by equipping professionals of all stripes to use their positions to influence our industry toward a better future where value is shared equitably and prosperity is created for all.
Thank you for reading Fresh Cup. I’m deeply grateful for your support and look forward to furthering our industry alongside you.