How Tribe Coffee turned a love for coffee into a livelihood

Whether you enjoy coffee now and again or as a special treat or simply rely on it to jump-start your day, there’s no denying the power that the aromatic beverage has on our daily lives. For many of us, our love for coffee is pretty much a one-sided relationship, where we simply purchase our favourite blend when we need a boost and then carry on with our day.

For Jake Easton, however, this wasn’t enough. His love for coffee runs deeper, so much so that he has devoted his life’s work to perfecting the perfect cup of joe. Over the years Jake has tried his hand at a number of different trades in the hospitality industry. It was during this time that he honed his skills in all things coffee, as a barista, as a coffee roaster, as a coffee trainer and even as a cafe designer. Having accumulated these skills, the next step was to open his very own coffee roastery and cafe, which he did with Tribe Coffee Roasting in 2010.

“I started Tribe Coffee because of my love of coffee, this humble bean literally gave me a chance at a new life. Also, I am the single worst employee “of All Time”, so working for others was out and my life choices were limited,” said Jake. 

Powered by coffee 

Jake started Tribe Coffee on 10 October 2010 with his first sale to Cafe Paradiso in Cape Town. At this time he only had R40 in cash, 25kgs of coffee and rent paid for two months. 

“I also had a full tank of petrol, a South African visa, a full larder, and I owed FNB over R3k. I used to split the payments from one back pocket to another and when I had enough for more green beans I would go buy more and roast at different roasteries around Cape Town. I managed this by offering roasting training in exchange for use of their roaster; they had no idea I was using more than one roastery,” said Jake. 

A year later in 2011, Jake was fortunate to meet the owners of a large food retail company, Food Lover’s Market, who gave him the opportunity to help them set up cafes throughout Gauteng, the Western Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, the North West and Mpumalanga.

“This big leap allowed me to sell more beans, which then gave me access to funds to start thinking about opening an online store and more. But really, it was the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown that forced my team to double-down on our online platform,” said Jake. 

Establishing Tribe Coffee online 

To circumvent the negative restrictions that lockdown had on the food services industry, Jake took the opportunity to embrace ecommerce and focus on selling his coffee blends online via his website, tribecoffee.co.za. He was already familiar with PayFast as a payment gateway and had a free account set up, so it was a no brainer to integrate it with his website to offer his customers a seamless checkout process.  

“PayFast has been a magical boon. We had already signed up but had not used the online payments platform to its fullest, so we were overjoyed when it became clear that we could align with such an easy payments system. It was (and is) easy to use, market-ready and TRUSTED by all South Africans…all of which we seriously needed”. 

Selling online has opened up a brand new world to Jake and his team, which he believes can be applied to any entrepreneur wanting to try something new and exciting. “I’m still learning about what it takes to run a successful online business, but I believe ecommerce has the power to transform the retail landscape. One thing I’ve learned, though, is if you want to sell online you need to ensure you always have enough stock of your product(s) to keep up with demand. It’s also important to find the right brand exposure to get into the public’s eye,” said Jake.  

“Entrepreneur does not mean tech wizard, it means any one of us trying to create a life which has meaning beyond the neo-traditional 9-5 ‘Sala-ri-man’. Go out there. Try to do the thing you want to do. Work hard. Sell more every day. Try again. Fail. Work all day and all night for years and one day you’ll be an overnight success. GRIT and LOVE are the basic tenets of every successful entrepreneur from the “brick and mortar” to the tech,” concluded Jake.

PayFast has helped thousands of driven entrepreneurs like Jake turn their passion into a successful online business. To find out how PayFast can help your business get paid online, visit www.payfast.co.za.

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