92 Degrees offers freshly roasted, perfectly extracted and awesome tasting coffee. As well as having their own coffee shops, online store and subscription service, they have made sure that their coffee has a beneficial impact all the way from origin, to the moment it arrives in customers’ coffee cups.
Modern Hospitality had the pleasure of speaking with Jack Brewitt, Founder of 92 Degrees about the brand’s inspirational business model, as well as revealing their approach to feel-good hospitality.
How 92º began
Jack began his work with 92 Degrees without huge financial backing and quickly realised a dream. Jack revealed how he worked to build and grow the brand. The business has since gone from strength to strength, remaining agile throughout COVID to continue to expand.
“92 degrees was founded by myself and 5 other people. At the time, I was working on a building site and someone who ran a tech business asked me to show him around the building. We got to the corner of Hope Street and he said we should build a shop there. So I said, “let’s do it!”
“Six weeks later, we had a full business plan and six weeks after that, we opened our doors as a coffee shop. We had a total of six of us, as the two of us couldn’t afford it on our own. Another six weeks later, we all sat down and I knew how much our customers loved us and it was working well, so I suggested we build more shops – but everybody else said no.”
Saving to expand the business
“I worked as hard as I could, in a tech business called SocialChain, working for Steve Bartlett and we knew that my plan was always to come away from this with savings, so I could buy everyone else out and take 92 Degrees to where I believed it could go. I invested all my money into the business, bought everyone out and went to three sites within a few months of me leaving my job, then our fourth was outside of Liverpool.”
Growing throughout COVID
“During COVID, our roastery business went mad and customers continued to support us, going online to buy our coffee, so our minimal sales went to 10,000% overnight. Next, we expanded into Leeds, Manchester and London, as well as now having sites opening in Scotland and looking at getting 50 locations by 2024.”
Creating feel-good hospitality
92 Degrees has put thought into creating a business model that is honestly beneficial for everybody involved. They have a partnership with Project Waterfall and choices of cooperatives and community farming projects, alongside other initiatives, enabling them to do great work from the origin of every cup of coffee. Here’s what Jack had to say about 92 Degrees’ priorities:
“We have three pillars within our business; people, community and coffee, which we value in that order. All of our team know this.
“The coffee is a great facilitator and a great thing to chat over, but looking after our people and the communities we operate in are the most important things we do as a business.”
Caring for your team and the environment
“We focus on our green credentials as much as possible, making sure every decision is good for the communities we operate in and for the people we work with. We ask these questions every time we make a decision.
“I was always obsessed with Innocent Drinks, as they are a brand that showed me business doesn’t have to be done by people in suits that only care about themselves. They showed me that you can be climate-conscious, do business well and look after the people you work with. It changed my whole opinion on business and from that point onwards, I’ve looked up to this kind of business and we make sure we live by what we say.”
Communicating positive initiatives and values of feel-good hospitality
With so many brilliant ideas and initiatives, 92 Degrees has a lot of great news to share with customers. But how do they keep up with communicating their values?
92 Degrees has a fantastic outlook on overcoming challenges, using them as opportunities to positively impact their team and customers.
“The biggest challenge is always to communicate why we’re changing something, explaining how it will benefit people and the community. Whenever we introduce an initiative, it’s only to benefit someone, so it’s not particularly difficult to convince anybody, but more about how we share this.
“Sometimes we’ll have new systems, such as our electric vehicles that can be a bit of a challenge as the range isn’t that great. Again, we just make sure the drivers stop off, get a sandwich and go again when they’re ready. We did this because we wanted to become more green. Any problems we have to resolve will have a solution that benefits everyone – so it doesn’t need to be seen as a bad thing.”
“This is something we’re working on all the time. Social channels are super beneficial for this and we have tens of thousands of people who follow us.”
A proud, knowledgeable team
“We really pride ourselves on making sure our teams are fully educated on the things we’re doing. This means whether our team are interacting with customers in our coffee shops, or online, they are fully trained up and confident, being proud of everything we’re doing.
“This means if you go into one of our stores, you’ll experience one of our team explaining what project waterfall is and this makes me so proud. We’ve trained everyone up well enough so they feel that they can explain what we’re doing to our customers. That’s where I love us communicating to our customers and I see it in our coffee shops. It’s all about chatting to people about what book they’re reading, enjoying coffee together and having that interaction is an amazing experience.”
Highlights since 92º began
We asked Jack for his personal highlights since the beginning of 92 Degrees:
“Promoting Gerard to become our COO was a really special day for me. Gerard was our first barista in our first store and this meant a great deal to me, as well as him. I wrote a very long email highlighting why he deserved this role and put the reasons in writing for him. Cerys being promoted to Director of Finance was another great moment, as I know it personally means a lot to her and I’m super proud of what she has achieved.
“Opening our first proper head office was an amazing day. We kept it a secret, even from our senior team and when they arrived, we popped a bottle of prosecco and celebrated moving into our new space.
“My final highlight was also the hardest day in my working life; the day I had to announce we were closing our stores due to COVID. The thing that made me so proud was the amount of messages I received from the team, saying if I needed anything to just call them. Their willingness to help was the biggest sign for me that we were doing something right. It was a real moment of realisation of what we’ve built and that people care about it.”
Top tip for anybody wanting to get into hospitality
When asked for his best advice for anybody wanting to get into the hospitality industry, Jack shared his outlook on the importance of an effective team.
Build a team of like-minded people
“I’m a strong believer that you need to work with people that you get on with and like, that also have similar ethics and morals. These are all of vital importance as the hospitality industry is so full on. It’s basically 365 days a year and for the first seven years, Gerard and myself didn’t have a day where we didn’t speak about work. It doesn’t mean you have to agree on absolutely everything, as you need to challenge each other on stuff, but having the same morals is by far the most valuable thing I’ve learnt from doing this. We couldn’t have achieved what we have if we didn’t get on – it’s how you figure everything out. So build a team you can rely on and trust.”
What’s next for 92º and how can our readers stay up to date?
“The next is further expansion in the UK and how we double down on our site locations in terms of immediate steps. After the next two years, you never know, we could look at international investors and I would love one day to have a 92 Degrees in California – that’s the dream!
“To keep in touch with what we’re doing, you can sign up to our email list and stay in touch on social.”
Interested in feel-good hospitality?
If you’d like to read more stories about feel-good hospitality, check out this Hospitality Stars piece about ethical coffee suppliers, or this article that looks at how you can introduce sustainable furniture into your venue’s design.
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing and is very passionate about the hospitality industry.