Aspen Korea talks about inducting global cleaning solution specialist Cafetto into the Korean coffee market and the thriving culture that’s already put barista talent and automation on the world map.
The Korean coffee market is credited with producing some of the best barista talent on the competition circuit, including 2019 World Barista Champion Joo Yeon Jeon. It is also said to have more coffee shops in the country than McDonalds has stores worldwide, proving coffee culture is well and truly embedded in the Korean way of life.
Since its establishment in 1998, Aspen Korea has been committed to nurturing its growth as the exclusive distributor of brands and products for Korean coffee businesses in the B2B and B2C marketplace, including franchises, online retail orders, and offline distribution channels. The Gangnam-based company takes a ‘total service system’ approach to business, ensuring the quality of its hardware, software, training, and ingredients are at the highest level.
As such, Aspen is committed to exclusive import contracts from around the world to ensure it secures full sales rights in the Korean market, and that its customers can access products from reputable brands and companies at a reasonable price.
“This approach helps Aspen’s reputation by raising awareness of each brand through exclusive purchasing and providing services that match it,” says Aspen Korea Purchasing Manager Daniel Byun.
“Through cooperation with the world’s highest-quality brands, Aspen is continuously developing new products and updating the latest trends in the Korean market.”
One such partnership that has endured nine years of commitment is Aspen’s distribution of Cafetto cleaning products to the Korean market.
Aspen CEO HJ Kwon first met Cafetto Managing Director Christopher Short at an industry tradeshow 15 years ago. They met again in 2012 at a Korean coffee expo and started discussing plans for Aspen to become a distributor of Cafetto products. At that point, Aspen wasn’t even distributing coffee machines, but committed to the relationship and friendship with the goal to grow its business and Cafetto’s presence in the Korean market, which it did rapidly.
“When we first started our partnership with Cafetto, cleaning products and solutions were still an unexplored market in Korea, but it has grown each year since we’ve been trading with Cafetto. This relationship has allowed us to gain the upper hand in the coffee sanitisation market that will continue to grow in the future,” Byun says.
In the early years of Aspen’s relationship with Cafetto, Byun says it was an educational learning experience to understand just how much coffee machines and equipment needed cleaning attention.
“It was surprising how much cleaning coffee machines frequently affects the taste of coffee. I now communicate that message to those around me and explain the importance of regular cleaning to maintain and enhance the natural flavour of coffee,” he says.
Aspen has communicated and demonstrated this message to customers over the years at tradeshows, exhibitions, and through online and offline channels to help more people pay attention to the importance of machine cleaning. It has even distributed Korean versions of brochures and samples of Cafetto cleaning products to give customers a first-hand demonstration of how effective the products are.
“We’re maintaining remarkable growth every year. The number of online and offline channels and franchises selling Cafetto products through Aspen is increasing. We are also releasing exclusive cleaning products through partnerships with machine manufacturers and are focusing on securing individual store distribution of Cafetto products through continuous promotion,” Byun says.
Cafetto has been a strong supporter of the Korean coffee community since its entry to the market in 2012. So much so, that the Australian-based company sponsored the 2017 World Barista Championship in Seoul, South Korea. It organised a Barista Base Camp at Ediya Coffee Lab’s flagship coffee lab in Gangnam for all competing baristas to hang out before the competition. To this day, the camp remains one of the best Cafetto ever organised. Thanks to Ediya Coffee Lab, all competing baristas enjoyed coffee, bakeries, and a relaxed environment.
In addition to supporting Korea’s barista talent, Cafetto, with assistance from Aspen, developed custom-made products so that Aspen could meet all regulatory and compliance standards in supplying high quality cleaning products that are most suitable for Korean market. The non-corrosive formula, suitable for Korean FDA regulations, can be used on semi-automatic machines, parts of automatic espresso machines, and on milk liners, frothers, even blender containers and ice machines.
Aspen is proud to work with Cafetto and validate its purpose in the Korean market because of its commitment to developing eco-friendly and premium quality cleaning solutions, how effective they are, how quick they achieve results, and how diverse the product range is to suit all cleaning solution needs in the coffee market.
“I think our relationship is a perfect partnership because Cafetto always listens to Aspen’s feedback and helps resolves any questions we have quickly,” Byun says.
In the past, he says semi-automatic coffee machines would dominate mainstream coffee shops, but more recently, fully automatics and even robots have emerged on the market, demonstrating the country’s penchant for automation.
“Due to labour costs and the coronavirus pandemic, there is a clear tendency to prefer automatic machines to semi-automatic. But since the low-priced coffee and high-priced coffee markets coexist, various types of coffee machines will continue to be used across the market,” he says.
Regardless of the equipment in use, Cafetto has a cleaning solution to meet every customer demand, and together with Aspen, will continue to be pillar of support to the extended Korean coffee community.
In Aspen’s 23-year-history, the company is excited to grow its presence in the B2B and B2C market, and continue to build its brand awareness in Korea, with Cafetto by its side.