Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Jablum to double chain of cafes

Published:Sunday | March 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
The new Jablum Coffee House at The NCB Towers, Oxford Road, New Kingston.

Mavis Bank Coffee Company Limited, operators of the Jablum profit, is going mainstream with its cafes, another three of which are to be rolled out over a one-year span.

The coffee houses grew to three last Monday with the launch of a store at NCB Towers on Oxford Road, New Kingston.

Jablum already operates two other cafes at the Falmouth Cruise Pier and another at the Good Hope tourist attraction, both in Trelawny. It also plans to set up a new cafe at a Dolphin Cove marine park on the north coast. Negotiations are ongoing between Jablum and Dolphin Cove Limited, but there are expectations that it would become one of three additional stores to debut within 12 months.

Petroleum company Total Jamaica also sells Jablum coffee from six gas stations in its network, but those are not operated by Mavis Bank.

The Jablum Oxford Road outlet serves coffee produced both by Mavis Bank and sister company Wallenford, both of which are ultimately owned by Michael Lee-Chin.

"I am hoping that in year one we can add maybe $5 million to our sales, which we think will be a good start over 12 months," said CEO of Mavis Bank, Norman Grant, in relation to the build-out of the coffee houses.

The investment being made was not disclosed.

"Over the next six to 12 months, we will find three more locations where we would roll out Jablum cafÈs as part of a strategy to get more Jamaicans to drink more coffee," Grant said.

Vice-chairman of Mavis Bank and Wallenford Coffee Mark McIntosh, who showed off the new cafe at NCB Towers to the Financial Gleaner, said that it can house a dozen persons inside and an additional 10 on the verandas.

"A major part of our interest in coffee is increasing the understanding, appreciation, and consumption of speciality coffee in Jamaica at all levels of society. This cafe is important as it is a coffee house targeted at the city and not the suburbs," said McIntosh.

He adds that it also exposes young professionals and average Jamaicans to quality coffee.

"So our offering focuses on unique harvests of Jamaica Blue Mountain, but we will share other experiences with Jamaican coffee lovers that include coffee as rare and exquisite as St Helena and exceptional as the Wallenford Estate peaberry," he said.

Peaberry coffee beans are smaller than regular beans and offer a distinct taste profile, which allows them to be sold at a higher price.

In recent years, Jablum pulled back from operating its cafe in Kingston, closing its location at the Norman Manley International Airport because of slow customer traffic. Its return to Kingston coincides with expansions and the pending launch of rival stores.

If Jablum reaches its goal of doubling the chain to six, it would place it among the largest coffee houses in Jamaica.

Cannonball operates four cafes within Kingston.

Cafe Blue, which is currently the largest, operates six stores, with a seventh set to open in Portmore. Cafe Blue is a subsidiary of Coffee Traders Limited, which itself is described as the largest single exporter and roaster of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee.

The Starbuck Jamaica franchise is expected to eventually overtake all coffee chains, with plans for 15 stores across Jamaica. So far, only one Starbucks store is in operation, having launched into business towards the end of last year at Gloucester Avenue in Montego Bay.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com