Singapore coffee chain eyes Philippines expansion
MANILA – Coffee shops are now a common sight in our country. From international coffee giants like Starbucks to homegrown coffee advocates like Bo’s Coffee, these coffee shops have become not just a source of our daily caffeine fix, but also a preferred place of work and play for employees, executives, and creatives alike.
It is this same vibrant coffee culture which Damien Koh experienced when he studied in Australia for three years. Koh and his wife Dawn Wee are both self-confessed coffee lovers, and they noticed that their home country Singapore has yet to develop a coffee culture.
“Back then, specialty coffee was still very new in Singapore,” recalled Koh. This prompted the partners to start Joe & Dough in 2009, which has since grown to seven branches in Singapore and is now eyeing expansion to the Philippines.
A CUP OF JOE AND SOME DOUGH
The name “Joe & Dough” is a testament to the coffee chain’s two main missions: to make good coffee accessible, and to provide simple, honest food. “Joe” is a nod to the phrase “a cup of Joe,” an American slang for coffee, while “Dough” stands for bread.
The partners studied the Singapore market first to see if there was an actual demand for specialty coffee and bread.
“We saw that there was a growing demand and gap in the market for good quality coffee,” Koh added.
However, Koh saw another gap in the market.
“Most coffee houses don’t place much emphasis on their food offerings, while most bakeries or sandwich stores don’t have good coffee programs—we wanted to be a brand where you can find both quality coffee and baked goods under one roof,” he explained.
SIMPLE, HONEST FOOD
Joe & Dough is all about handcrafted coffee and breads done in small batches and on demand. This, Koh believes, “turns the daily routine of grabbing coffee and sandwiches into a bespoke treat.”
To prepare their coffee, for example, quality Arabica beans are slow-roasted in small batches, then ground on demand for each cup.
Joe & Dough also has an in-house artisan bakery that produces fresh breads on a daily basis. Its breads have no preservatives and, much like its coffee, are also prepared in small batches on demand. Its other cakes and pastries, such as their scones and carrot cake, also have no preservatives. Its sandwiches are also handcrafted daily—from the choice of bread, down to the choice of meat and vegetable fillings—and have a one-day shelf life to ensure freshness.
“We are not overly fanciful—we believe in going back to the basics and doing things right,” Koh added.
GROWTH THROUGH FRANCHISING
After having seven branches in Singapore, Joe & Dough is now setting its sights on the Philippines. Koh decided to explore other store formats for Joe & Dough in order to better prepare the brand for franchising.
“We are exploring other formats, ranging from simple kiosks of 200 square feet to full cafés of about 1,500 square feet. This will allow us to be more dynamic so that we can cater to different segments of the market,” Koh explained.
This will be particularly helpful for growth in the Philippines, as store locations with the right space requirements can be hard to come by here.
For Koh, now is a great time for Joe & Dough to expand to the Philippines. “The specialty coffee scene in the Philippines is growing, with many quality independent coffeehouses sprouting out all over the country. The awareness for specialty coffee will continue to increase and we want to be part of the growth,” he said.
To know more about Joe & Dough and other international franchise brands, contact U-Franchise Sales and Management at (02) 634-0586, or [email protected].
Sam Christopher Lim is the senior vice president for marketing and strategy at franchise consultancy Francorp Philippines; president of U-Franchise Sales & Management; and chairperson and director for special projects for Asean integration at the Philippine Franchise Association.