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Our Approach To The Coronavirus

Update from Friday, April 3rd - We are now dispatching coffee orders during lockdown

Dear coffee lovers,

The last week has been quite surreal for the CCB Team, as I'm sure it's been for you. While we've taken the opportunity to get set up from home and find other projects to work on, I have also been trying to figure out if we can and should dispatch coffee bean orders during the lockdown. It is not a decision I've taken lightly, which is part of the reason I've taken a week to make it, but I have decided that we will do one coffee dispatch per week going forward. This is the best answer I can come up with to balance the legal, ethical, economic and personal safety considerations at play. If you'd like to read more about my reasoning, please feel free to read on, but first, please let me summarise our approach:

Any orders you place will go a long way towards supporting us and our roasting partners. Each one will be sincerely appreciated!

How we will dispatch coffee orders during lockdown:

  • We will only dispatch once per week
  • Orders must be placed by 8AM on the first working day of the week
  • Orders will then be dispatched within 2 working days of that
  • Only orders for coffee beans with nothing else included will be dispatched. All orders containing equipment, accessories or any item other than coffee will be dispatched after lockdown.
  • We will mark the coffees available for purchase as in stock on our website. Some may be marked out of stock either because no stock is available or because our roasters will not be roasting them during lockdown.
  • Please expect that there may be some delays due to couriers operating at limited capacity

Why are we dispatching during lockdown?

As coffee is a beverage, it falls under the essential goods category of the lockdown regulations (Regulation 11A, Annexure B, Section A1). This does appear to make it legal to sell coffee. I have attempted many times to get confirmation of this interpretation from the DTIC but haven't been able to get a response in writing. One person I spoke to on the phone did support the interpretation however. We also have been issued with a CIPC certificate as an essential service provider. While I feel confident that this addresses the legal question, I personally don't feel that is the only important part.

The other things I have had to consider are the potential economic impact on my team, whose salaries I want to be able to pay later in April, the economic impact on our coffee roasting partners who are in a much more difficult position than we are, as well as the public and personal health risks associated with operations during the lockdown. The last thing I want to do is put anyone individual at risk, nor to contribute to the impact of this pandemic on our society.

Factoring all these things in, I've come to the conclusion that doing one dispatch per week, with only one member of staff working in the office to pack the orders seems like a reasonable approach. That team member will engage in no physical contact with anybody delivering or collecting orders, and will take the necessary precautions based on public guidelines. The rest of the team will only work from home. The couriers we use will only be couriers that were already operating during the lockdown. We will also not open the store to any potential buyers or visitors, because that is much more difficult to control.

I imagine that some may consider this approach overly cautious and that others may disapprove of CCB operating at all. I believe it's the best compromise, and I hope that our community will support us.

With all that said, I would be happy to answer any questions that anyone has about any of this, and I wish you, your families and your loved ones a safe, healthy and hopefully well-caffeinated lockdown period.

Best regards,

Founder of Cape Coffee Beans

Update from Friday, March 27th, 12:30

Dear coffee lovers,

We are now on lockdown with the rest of South Africa. Our physical store is closed, and we are not able to dispatch any orders until the lockdown is over. We are online though and would love to hear from you. You can chat to us, email us, call us or find us on social media channels. If you'd like to place an order during the lockdown, you are welcome to, and we would be grateful for the support. We will dispatch your order as soon as the lockdown is over.

Thank you for your support in the last few days and over the last few years. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay isolated & brew at home. We'll be doing the same.

Best regards,

Founder of Cape Coffee Beans

Update from Wednesday, March 25th, 13:00

Dear coffee lovers,

I hope that your preparations for the lockdown are coming along well. We have had quite a crazy 24 hours at CCB, dispatching more than twice as many orders in a single day as we ever have before!

I'm writing to let you know that any new orders placed online may not make it before lockdown. We are not entirely sure if couriers will be allowed to complete deliveries dispatched on Thursday, but we'd like to err on the side of caution in this regard.

If you have already placed an order and it has not arrived yet, we feel quite confident that it should still reach you. We will be following up and checking on every dispatch over the next 24 hours and corresponding with the couriers to troubleshoot any issues.

If you feel like taking the risk and would like to place a new order online and have us dispatch it tomorrow (Thursday), in the hopes that it will still be delivered after the lockdown, you are welcome to, but please understand that we cannot accept responsibility if it does not make it to you in time. If you want to try this option, please make sure to include an order note to this effect.

For those in Cape Town, we will be open 9 to 5 on Thursday for in person shopping and order collections, though stock may be somewhat limited. Nevertheless, we will have plenty of options.

Thank you again for your support. Stay safe. Stay healthy. #brewathome

Best regards,

Founder of Cape Coffee Beans

Update from Tuesday, March 24th, 10:45

Dear coffee lovers,

I want to keep you informed of what  we're anticipating here at CCB.

While we have not been able to specifically confirm this (details have not yet been published), we are being led to believe that we will have to shut completely during the lockdown, including online orders.

At this stage, this does not pose a concern for any orders placed today up until 12:00. Thereafter, any orders placed must be put on Express Delivery to make it by Thursday to main centres. Outside of main centres, it will be less likely the orders will arrive if dispatched tomorrow.

Unfortunately this means that we will probably not be able to dispatch any new orders on Thursday, as they may not make it to you. However, we will be taking orders for collection and selling in store.

Thank you for your support. Happy (home) brewing over the next 3 weeks!

Best regards,

Founder of Cape Coffee Beans

Update from Tuesday, March 24th, 07:15

Dear coffee lovers,

I've been up since 3:30 this morning (thank goodness for coffee) trying to get my head around the implications of the President's Speech last night. As I'm sure you are, I am worried for those close to me and for society at large.

I am also trying to figure out exactly what this will mean for our operation before and after the lock down starts. As of right now, I'm inferring that we will not be able to operate after lock down, but we will be definitely be operating through Thursday.

While I can't say this for certain just yet, I also do believe that orders we dispatch through Thursday will still be delivered by our couriers, even if that happens after the lockdown begins, and I will do my best to confirm that as soon as I can this today.

Nevertheless, planning for worst, I would highly encourage you to place your orders as soon as you can, and if you live outside the Western Cape, please choose the Express Delivery option if you can afford it. We have three full working days, and we had already started stocking up as much as we could in anticipation of such an issue.

We still have time to source more beans from our roasters to fulfil your orders, and we have stocked up significantly on equipment. If anything isn't available, it has been marked out of stock on the site. Should you order anything that we can't dispatch for any reason (though this is unlikely), we will of course inform you, and refund you if we can't find a substitute. The team's priority will be dealing with orders today.

The store in Claremont will be open every day until lockdown. Please do visit, but please maintain a safe distance and follow the public guidelines on how to minimise the risk of virus spread.

We're committed to making sure that you have the coffee supplies that you need during the lockdown, and I'm sure you realise that with what's ahead, we could use your support right now. We will be very grateful for every order placed.

Best regards,

Founder of Cape Coffee Beans

Update from March 20th

Dear coffee lovers,

There’s no question that we’re at the beginning of a very uncertain time with the arrival of the Novel Coronavirus in South Africa. Like everyone else, I have been watching the news, trying to figure out what it means for my family, my team, our business, and our community. Clearly, we need to take this situation seriously, and I’m doing my best to find ways to address the immediate health risks, the broader public health risks, as well as the economic risks, specifically to the people whose livelihoods depend on what we do.

While I can’t claim to be completely confident of the right path forward, given all these variables to consider, we have put in place a few measures which I believe should help, which you’ll find outlined below.

The short version

Here is a basic summary of what we’re doing at CCB:

  • For the time being, business continues as usual:
    • The store is open
    • Online orders continue as normal
    • Order dispatches continue as usual
  • But we are taking certain precautions:
    • Most of the team is working from home
    • We’re regularly sanitising our space, following public guidelines
    • We’re finding ways to minimise physical contact and proximity to our customers, couriers & suppliers when we interact with them
    • Our couriers are taking further precautions in handling of customer packages

If you’d like more clarity on what we’re doing, please feel free to read the more detailed information below.

The team at CCBHQ

I’ve asked 4 of the 7 team members, who don’t necessarily need to be in the office, to work from home. I and two other members of the team, whose physical presence is required for their work, will be at CCBHQ.

My hypothesis here is that permanently splitting the team will be the best way to achieve social distancing in the long run, while still continuing to operate. If anyone who is working in the store shows any infection symptoms, all of us can move to working from home, and those who were at home can come in and take over.

The people who are at home have also been asked to minimise their social contact to whatever extent possible.

Visitors to CCBHQ

For the time being, I am keeping our store open, but I would certainly encourage everyone to use our online channel if they are able to. To keep everyone as safe as possible, we’re doing a few things:

  • We’re trying to minimise physical contact and keep a safe distance from everyone that visits. This includes:
    • Not shaking hands
    • Allowing people to use our Yoco card machines independently
    • Allowing people to sign for their own orders
    • Allowing our couriers to pick up packages without physically interacting with our team
    • Not sharing pens and not signing on digital devices
  • We’re following the best advice we can find in terms of sanitising our space regularly including:
    • Using high alcohol hand sanitiser
    • Washing hands after handling goods and dealing with outside visitors
    • Regularly cleaning our surfaces and any objects that people need to handle
  • We’re minimising in person meetings at CCBHQ and unnecessary physical proximity

Online orders & deliveries

Our courier partners have been quick to act, implementing many measures to protect their drivers and avoid them contributing to the spread of the virus. We are avoiding all physical contact between couriers and our team. When the couriers come to collect, they pick up the boxes independently and load them into the vehicles.

The members of our team receiving stock and packing orders are also regularly cleaning the surfaces used and washing their hands periodically.

Other measures

We’ve cancelled planned offsite meetings with suppliers and customers, moving them to digital platforms when we can. We’ve also put a hold on scheduling any client site training for the time being.

We’ve cancelled our weekly cuppings, and we’ve stocked up on paper disposable cups for visitors to use.

We’ve also cancelled our cleaning service for the time being and will be sharing that work between the team members that need to be onsite anyway.

What’s next?

In truth, I have no idea. Much will depend on how the situation evolves here in South Africa. I intend to follow public guidelines, and if it becomes necessary to shut the store, I will. My hope is that we’ll be able to continue to operate online one way or another.

We may have sourcing or logistical issues in the future, but for the time being, I’m relieved to say that most things are on track.

We’ll do our best to keep everyone in our community apprised of any changes in our operations. In the meantime, I hope everyone stays safe, stays healthy, stays relatively isolated and continues to enjoy some good coffee, wherever that might be happening.

Best regards,

Founder of Cape Coffee Beans

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