Trade, the online specialty coffee marketplace and subscription service, announced today that it has raised a $9 million round of funding. The round was led by Madrona Venture Group with participation from JAB and Launch. This brings the total amount of funding raised by Trade to $21 million.
Trade’s mission, as company CEO Mike Lackman explained to me by phone last week, is pretty straightforward: “Our goal is to create platform to get people to pay for specialty coffee,” he said. He lamented that a lot of people currently still treat coffee like a commodity even though there are a ton of other great roasters to choose from.
Launched in April of 2018, Trade offers coffees from more than 55 roasters across U.S. 38 states. Customers can get recommendations based on factors like roast or taste preferences, and order bags a la carte or via subscription. Trade facilitates all the payment, logistics and packaging, while the individual roasters actually ship the coffee. In May of this year, Trade sold its millionth bag of coffee.
I asked Lackman if the pandemic, which has forced more people to stay and work at home, has had an impact on Trade’s business. “We saw strong volume through Q2,” Lackman said, though the company didn’t see huge, panic buying-induced surges. “We were able to handle it, and much of that demand has sustained.”
Getting coffee online is not exactly difficult nowadays, and there are plenty of players already in the space including subscription services like Craft Coffee and Misto Box, broader online marketplaces like Seattle Coffee Gear, and roasters themselves like Stumptown.
With its new funding, Lackman said that Trade is looking to broaden the appeal of its services. “Making the tent bigger for specialty is important,” he said, “Our audience was very well versed in the world of specialty, but skewed more male.” Trade aims to balance out that gender gap and serve up specialty coffee to more people, no matter their taste or price point preferences.