Two of the beverage trade's major coffee suppliers have opened up new websites for trade customers.
Gala Coffee, the high-volume coffee roaster which produces the Lyons brand, has come up with Gala Coffee Direct, a website offering online buying for independent caterers of any size, even small cafes, which goes live on 1 July.
Managing director Murray Leslie told us that he is looking to achieve a balance of variety and simplicity.
"If you're a small hotel or café owner, you may see an advantage here, because online buying is about managing your stockholding more conveniently, and delivery within 48 hours will help you do that."
Online supply does not clash with the coffee trade's obsession with freshness, says Murray Leslie. "If I had to put my money on it, I'd settle for coffee at its best a week after roasting.
"Now, we may be a huge company, but we don't hold huge stocks. Our roasted stock is held to a maximum of one week - so this service will be about the proper fresh product."
Gala has identified three brands to be sold online - Lyons, Templo, and a new espresso yet to be unveiled. Lyons is not seen as a 'cool' espresso-bar brand, but Leslie believes in it as a good all-day filter coffee. "A well-made, fresh filter coffee is a lovely thingâ¦ a move back towards filter coffee would not surprise me, and would be a very good thing indeed!"
Templo is a Spanish coffee, roasted under licence. Gala has never really promoted the brand since taking it on a couple of years ago, but it does have a following in tapas bars and the like as 'a nice, middle-ground, espresso'.
The third one is a new Italian-style espresso brand, as yet un-named.
"Why do we need one? Because research said that customers wanted a new coffee with Italian roots - an Italian style, roasted by us. We did consider buying one in, but that went against the concept of 'order direct from the roastery'!" said Leslie.
Meanwhile, Douwe Egberts has launched the second phase of its website for the Out of Home sector, douweegbertsprofessional.co.uk
Douwe Egberts says it has 'found the balance between design and the download speed expected by busy professionals when researching information online'.
The site offers What We Do , a note of what Douwe Egberts supplies to the market and where to buy them; The Coffee Academy, with barista tips, training videos and point-of-sale downloads; My Business , a section that looks at the sectors Douwe Egberts operates in; and News, which currently has an equipment sale on.
Buyers will soon be able to use a product finder to track product availability using their postcode, and print point-of-sale materials.
By Ian Boughton