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More than cold brew: How award-winning barista of S’pore’s Kopiboy delivers 4.5K bottles/month

The urge to drink decent coffee during the Circuit Breaker last year led a group of friends to set up coffee delivery startup Kopiboy.

Just under two years old, the business has grown to sell around 120 to 150 bottles of beverages a day, or about 4,500 bottles a month. Kopiboy, which used to operate out of a home, has since moved to a central facility due to it outgrowing the original space.

But these people aren’t just novices who wanted to start something. The brainchild behind the business is 37-year-old Ahmad Hidayat – nicknamed “Dayat” who has more than 16 years in coffee operations and production.

He is a professional barista and a licensed Q Grader, which is a licence awarded to candidates who undergo a very thorough examination and training course by the Coffee Quality Institute. The candidates emerge to become certified coffee graders who can evaluate the physical and sensory attributes of a coffee.

Not only is Dayat a certified coffee expert, he has also participated in multiple coffee competitions and has clinched awards.

Dayat at a coffee brewing event / Image Credit: Kopiboy

From 2016 to 2018, Dayat won First Runner Up for the Singapore National Barista Championship. He has also participated in other competitions and emerged as First Runner Up for the Singapore Brewers Cup Competition in 2015 and the SEA Coffee Siphon Competition in 2014.

The Kopiboy team is run by Dayat, head of marketing and business development “Sya”, operations lead “Azee”, and planning manager “Mizi”.

They just wanted some decent coffee during Circuit Breaker

Kopiboy started at the peak of the pandemic in early 2020.

“When cafes and restaurants were closed, we as coffee lovers found it hard to get any decent coffee around. At first we started brewing cold brews for ourselves, family and neighbours. Soon it spread through word of mouth and we didn’t realise that we had gained quite a fair bit of popularity,” said Dayat.

Through referrals and social media posts, the business started getting a steady stream of orders and its customer base grew. “We saw a sudden surge of orders because one of our neighbours had posted about us. Little did we know that she was a mom influencer and had shared our beverages on her page which kicked us off!”

The group’s decision to name the business Kopiboy was because they wanted it to be uniquely Singaporean. The word “kopi” is an Indonesian and Malay term for coffee, but in Singapore it is a normal slang used by all races to order coffee beverages.

Image Credit: Kopiboy

The Muslim-owned business’ ingredients are halal-certified, said Dayat.

“We wanted it to be a truly Singaporean and friendly brand. Most specialty coffee brands have a particular branding to them that sometimes shy away first time or occasional coffee drinkers because the name of the coffees or that the offerings may be too intimidating for them.”

“We want to make coffee approachable, affordable and friendly for everyone! Be it the coffee aficionados or first time coffee drinkers. This speaks for itself with our easy to drink coffee blends and creations,” Dayat explained.

How to make good coffee?

There’s no secret recipe or secret formula to make good coffee, according to Dayat.

“It’s all about the freshness of the coffee beans and years of experience brewing consistently good coffees.”

Some of Kopiboy’s best selling flavours include the Authentic Kopi, Sinfully Dark Mocha, Roasted Hazelnut Latte, and Smooth Latte. The business owners claim that the coffee is “relatively affordable”, with coffees starting from $5 for a 300ml bottle.

The e-commerce website also sells baked goodies to accompany the coffee drinks, like Tiramisu Cakes, Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies, and Fudgey Brownies.

There are also non-coffee beverages, like Earl Grey Milk Tea and Forrest Berries Iced Tea.

From home-based biz to factory shop space

Kopiboy started as a home-based business but due to the quick rise in orders in this period, it has since moved to a central facility that is currently functioning as an online cafe.

“We sell about 120-150 bottles a day, excluding corporate and group buys,” Dayat said.

“Because we’re a small business, we run daily operations with a minimum of three employees. This is why we are able to keep our prices affordable.”

The logo and design idea stemmed from Dayat and Sya. “We wanted it to be minimalistic yet friendly and approachable. Hence we played around with soft colours and simple layout,” he said.

Kopiboy accepts 20 to 25 delivery locations every weekday and orders are closed once it hits that quota.

As for weekends, it’s more flexible with the amount of orders it accepts. “We have an in-house vehicle & driver who does islandwide deliveries allowing us to keep the delivery expenses to a minimum.”

Free islandwide delivery is given for orders more than S$25. The food products are also available at Shopee Mall and foodpanda.

Covid-19 both a boon and bane to biz

When asked if the pandemic has helped the business, Dayat said that there have been both benefits and disadvantages.

“Since many are working from home, it has benefitted us in a way that our offerings are convenient in meeting the needs of these people who look for ready-to-drink coffee that can be stored for the week.”

Image Credit: Kopiboy

However, the pandemic has definitely hindered the business from expanding into brick and mortar stores.

“We’re an online cafe so the biggest limitation is definitely the visual and immediate gratification portion of a cafe. The way we go around that is to constantly innovate to stay relevant. We have to stay creative in order to stay in the business.”

Innovation an important part of the business

Kopiboy wants to be known for its innovative and out of the box offerings, said Dayat, and it proves to be so with over 30 concocted beverage offerings on its website.

“Being very big foodies we are constantly thinking of what to eat next, what to drink next, what to try next. That’s how most of our offerings come about – they are a product of our cravings.”

Knowing that the pandemic has made it harder for people to meet and hang out, the business also sells care packs and gift sets from S$25. These packs usually contain two to three drinks and two snacks – cakes or biscuits – and many customers buy them for friends and family usually for birthdays and special occasions.

For now, Kopiboy has no plans to scale up quickly. It prefers to focus on the content and improve the brand that has been built. “The goal is to do more than just coffee. We want to build a community and foster the relationships we’ve built with our Kopi Gang!”

Dayat acknowledges that the volatile and saturated coffee market means that many similar firms do come and go. However, he and his team want Kopiboy to be a sustainable business.

“We’re here to create a community for our consumers – not just to sell in the short run.”

Featured Image Credit: Kopiboy

Also Read: She’s lactose intolerant, so she developed her own plant-based almond milk brand in S’pore




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