Sourcing the aromatic coffee bean from its farm high in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, Rocksteady Coffee is a growing brand with a reputation which is spreading among gourmet coffee lovers in North America.
The company is headed by Jamaican/Canadian O Ricardo Forbes, president and CEO of Rocksteady Mountain Resort Limited/Rocksteady Coffee Company.
Forbes is an established Old Ottawa South resident and a career entrepreneur. The businessman owns Forbes Holdings Management Inc — a real estate management and investment company since 2005 — and more recently, Rocksteady Coffee Company Canada, which is also a federally registered corporation.
Trading company Rocksteady Coffee, founded in 2013, packages and distributes Blue Mountain coffee from a farm located in the Blue and John Crow Mountains. The farm is 17.5 acres and boasts the single estate label for its product.
Forbes' target is the global coffee market which is worth over US$100 billion and is expected to increase to more than US$155 billion by 2026.
He told the Jamaica Observer, "Jamaican coffee represents less than roughly .001 per cent of that market."
The entrepreneur firmly believes that there is room for growth for the Blue Mountain brand.
Rocksteady Mountain Resort Limited processes and distributes to Jamaican retailers its single origin coffee from Kingston, Jamaica. Its products include "Single Estate Rocksteady Gold, a 100 per cent Blue Mountain Coffee, Rocksteady Gourmet Blend, and Rocksteady Reserve '' which is a medium roast.
Forbes' Canadian registered corporation Rocksteady Coffee Company Limited manages distribution in Canada and across North America and the UK.
In choosing a brand name, the CEO chose rocksteady which Forbes stated, "is extremely relatable to Jamaicans. It transports Jamaicans back to the rocksteady music period, which was nestled between the eras of ska and reggae.
"This name evokes a specific sense of pride and happiness and elicits a high level of brand recognition in the country. I recognised the immediate need to protect my brand, Rocksteady Coffee, by registering it as a trademark. The trademark is now registered in Jamaica, Canada, the USA, the UK and Europe."
Making a difference
The coffee trader outlined, "I wanted to make a difference in the country of my birth by producing a product that is warm in spirit and wholeheartedly Jamaican."
The company brand taps Jamaica's long history of coffee cultivation, stating on its website, "Founded in 2012 with a history stretching back over a century, we began the Rocksteady Coffee journey to provide an exceptional product — warm in spirit and wholeheartedly Jamaican."
Today Rocksteady employs 13 people, 80 per cent women in growing, processing and distributing organic, single origin, gourmet, 100 per cent Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee from its 17.5-acre farm in the Jamaica Blue Mountains.
Forbes said, "Our competitive advantage is our taste profile and consistency. We have achieved this through our farming practices and processing innovation." The product most in demand is Rocksteady Coffee Gold, which enjoys high demand and wide sales.
Forbes shared, "We plan to increase our current customer base through a highly targeted marketing campaign. Our customer base for the Rocksteady Coffee Gold are mid to high net worth, gourmet and specialty coffee lovers who are between the ages of 35-70 years. Client outreach is done through company website rocksteadycoffee.com and email@example.com
In sharing challenges faced by Rocksteady in the last decade, the CEO said, "Barriers to entry are high land prices, working capital requirements and growth funding. I have dealt with these challenges by securing various grant funding, angel investment, and pre-purchase arrangements."
The coffee trader says that his persistence has been rewarded, as profitability is on the upswing. For the financial year ended September 30, the company recorded 150 per cent growth in revenues.
Looking to the immediate future, Forbes stated, "We will increase coffee production from 17.5 acres to 40 acres — continue building on the retail relationships in Jamaica and Canada. We have identified retail partners in the US and UK and are in discussions for product placement.
"We will control coffee manufacturing and offer Rocksteady farm tours and build a suite of executive retreats as an experiential and agri-tourism product that will provide a closer connection to our brand; growing the Rocksteady Coffee community of discerning specialty coffee lovers."
There are also plans by the company to open a suite of highly targeted cafés in select cities such as Toronto, London and New York. Rocksteady's CEO said, "Our cafés will be designed with the highest quality to reflect the Rocksteady coffee experience."
The CEO says 2022 crop year was Rocksteady's " best year since it tested the market with its value proposition".
It is now looking forward, he said, to tripling its revenues for the new this financial year. The company was recently awarded grant funding of $1 million from Jamaica Business Development Corporation and Development Bank of Jamaica.
The CEO states that he intends to raise equity funding to scale the operations pointing out that the company's balance sheet "is very healthy with no debt on the books".
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