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14 May, 2014 - 08:35 By Tony Quested

Fairtrade pioneer buys Cambridge online coffee club

John-Steel

Cafédirect, one of the UK’s biggest coffee brands and Fairtrade coffee pioneer, has acquired Cambridge-based online coffee club Kopi.co.uk for an undisclosed sum.

Kopi, the e-commerce coffee subscription service has been run out of Genie Ventures on Mill Lane, Cambridge.

The acquisition is the latest in a recent string of successes for e-commerce subscription businesses – the most publicised being LOVEFiLM's sale to Amazon and the most recent being last month's high profile sale of US coffee subscription service Tonx to the Blue Bottle Coffee Company in America.

Genie Ventures will continue to run the rest of its stable of successful online businesses from its Cambridge offices, including Broadband Genie, Crowdstorm, Big Cup Little Cup, Genie Goals and Office Genie.

Cafédirect has now acquired Kopi’s custom-built subscription software, a passionate subscriber base, and an opportunity to move into the e-commerce space.

Kopi, in turn, can leverage the hugely respected Cafédirect brand and its coffee sourcing and operational prowess to rapidly build its subscriber base.

Kopi only raised one small round of funding during its two-and-a-half years of business, from Cambridge-based incubator and digital marketing agency Genieventures.co.uk, and reached operational break-even in mid-2013.

Philip Wilkinson, co-founder of Kopi, says: “We’ve always known the coffee subscription sector needed a big, respected brand to drive awareness. Cafédirect has turned out to be the perfect partner for our mission: to bring the world’s best fresh coffee to coffee lovers every month.”

Much speculation has been made over the future of e-commerce subscription models, where customers pay a monthly fee to receive a regular, curated product through the post. Today’s deal provides further evidence that these groundbreaking companies will continue to partner with bigger retail brands in order to scale their customer base.

John Steel, CEO of Cafédirect, explains: “This acquisition allows us to develop small batches of premium, bespoke coffees which it would not usually be possible for us to sell in supermarkets. We were very impressed with the team, the technology, and the superb product Kopi has built over the years – and we’re excited to bring them into the business.”

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