How a Malaysian roastery plans to get back on track after a robbery

Kenny Mah
Ghostbird Coffee’s Grace Campaign offers one espresso blend and two single origin beans – Pictures courtesy of Ghostbird Coffee Company

KUALA LUMPUR, May 14 – From roasting beans to preparing takeaway cups, making coffee requires more steps than we realise.

For many in the local coffee industry, it’s a labour of love. Some would say it takes a village.

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, this tough business has become even more challenging.

So when the headquarters of Ghostbird Coffee Company, a local coffee roastery and retailer, was burgled two days ago, it was a crushing blow.

Ghostbird wholesale director Michael Tan recalls, “Our finance accountant came into the office on Tuesday morning and discovered the burglary. All our desktop computers, laptops, hard disk drives, television and speakers are gone. The credit card terminal and Grab terminal were stolen too. Luckily no cash was stored here.”

It’s not just simple material losses. The equipment were necessary for their day-to-day operations.

With the loss of computers due to the burglary, Ghostbird will now do roasting manually

Tan shares, “Without our computer, the roasting is no longer PC aided. So now we have to do manual roasting which requires more monitoring and checking.”

One silver lining is that the robbers didn’t touch the aforementioned roasting machine, the bread-and-butter for a coffee roastery. Tan says, “We’re grateful we still have that. Luckily we did a backup on a pendrive a few weeks ago so we have all our wholesale labels, OEM labels, etc. Otherwise, we’d have to redo everything.”

When Tan and his team first found out about the break-in, they were understandably devastated. He says, “We were depressed at first. The team felt tired as we have been pushing ourselves to stay positive and kept grinding hard the past few weeks. It felt like reality was playing tricks on us.”

Rather than allowing themselves to wallow in negativity, the Ghostbird team got started on cleaning up the mess left behind. Tan says, “Thankfully one of our colleagues knows a few people in the construction industry. We managed to get some help with the restoration of the areas that were damaged in this incident.”

Then it was back to the step-by-step process of rearranging their workflow and restarting their production process to fulfil their wholesale and retail customer orders.

“Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. We recently received our new shipment of coffee beans from Colombia. Therefore, to get the necessary financial aid to help our production recover, we've decided to launch a supporting campaign called Grace Campaign.”

Ghostbird will be retailing their new Colombian coffees on their website by taking pre-orders that customers can purchase to support the coffee roaster through this trying period.

Ghostbird wholesale director Michael Tan conducting a basic hand brewing class in January before the Movement Control Order (MCO) was in place

The idea behind Ghostbird’s supporting campaign is to turn an unfortunate event into a means of reaching out to their customers and coffee community.

Tan explains, “We wanted to create more value and not borrow money from relatives or friends. We also don’t like the idea of donations from customers. What we do know is that we can still roast really tasty coffee.”

Ghostbird Coffee’s Grace Campaign offers one espresso blend and two single origin beans. For espresso lovers, the Grace Coffee Blend (RM80, 500g) is equal parts Colombia and Brazil beans. A medium dark roast blend, this is balanced, milk chocolate sweetness and a smooth finish.

The campaign also has a Grace Coffee Bundle Set where filter brew drinkers can enjoy two different beans for RM80 only. The bundle includes one bag of Colombia Euardo Riveda (200g), a sweet and balanced medium roast, and one bag of Colombia Luis Anibal Pink Bourbon (100g), a light medium roast with flavours of berry and fruity sweetness.

From roasting beans to preparing takeaway cups, making coffee requires more steps than we realise

Tan adds, “I believe this way is more meaningful and creates interaction with our customers during a time when we are all practising social distancing. We just tasted the first profile yesterday and I can’t wait for our customers to give it a try, honestly.”

Ghostbird has begun taking pre-orders and delivery will start from next Wednesday May 20 onwards. Tan says, “We also have a few other projects coming up. With the ongoing Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), funding will be the number one challenge of any business. Who knows, we might be open to the idea of crowdfunding in the near future.”

Given all the uncertainty the coffee industry faces, the only certainty seems to be that the ones who survive – and perhaps thrive – are the ones open to trying new ways of doing things.

And as with the very process of making coffee, even this will take a village. If Ghostbird’s Grace Campaign is a success, it will be with the support of the very community it belongs to.

For more information and to order beans, visit Ghostbird Coffee Company at their pages:

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