LOT61 opened in Amsterdam in 2013 as a specialty coffee shop. We spoke with Chief Operating Officer Ray about the secret behind the company’s continued leadership in the industry since it was founded by two childhood friends, who were born in Sydney.
The pristine ocean started becoming polluted.
A phrase of “Born in Sydney. Raised in Brooklyn. Roasting in Amsterdam.” can be found on the website. Such a phrase summarizes the history of the founder and the owner, Adam and Paul, who are childhood friends. The phrase is more than a slogan for the team members.
“It doesn’t just describe the process of their journey. It represents that we are travelers, adventurers, and seekers. The coffee we serve is more than just coffee. It’s a lifestyle, a way of life, an escape, and it’s inseparable from comfort,” Ray states.
It triggered enthusiastic surfers and divers, Adam and Paul to enter the world of coffee when they saw plastics floating in the pristine waters of Australia. The coral reefs were dying.
They thought,“We can’t just go on like this. We need to create a positive impact on society through something we are good at.” The backbone of this is reflected in LOT61’s mission: “We’re on a mission to become a circular coffee brand in every aspect of our field.”
Ray states, “From using reusable and easily recyclable products to reducing our carbon dioxide emission and to the use of transportation and electricity, we are always choosing the better method among our options. We are doing our best to ensure that our future generations will have access to natural resources such as materials, energy, and water when they need them.”
To create a sustainable society, LOT61 made a decision about 2-3 years ago to have relationships with producers who practice “poly farming” that cultivates a variety of produce.
“The beauty of poly farming is you can regenerate the soil by growing a variety of crops such as coffee, palm trees, and cacti in one place. It’s complex, it has stories, and we have good partnerships with producers based on trust. We believe that sustainably sourced coffee is good coffee,” he states.
Aiming to become the company people want to follow.
Since its opening in July 2013, LOT61 has been leading the Dutch specialty coffee industry with customers so loyal that it’s hard to find a time when there are no lines at the shop.
One of the keys to this success is the Certified B Corporation that LOT61 has received. The Certified B Corporation, which aims to “redefine business success,” is a private certification given to companies that conduct their business activities in consideration of the environment and society that meet certain standards of accountability and transparency.
Assessment for Certified B Corporation involves a thorough analysis of every aspect of the business; “Which banks does the company do business with and what other companies do banks do business with?” “What kind of roasting machines do they use?” “How lively and popular is the store?” “What kind of added values do they provide to their staff and what kind of incentive schemes do they offer?” “Why do the staff work at LOT61?” and so on. These are just a few examples. In other words, it’s not just assessed superficially like if they use reusable bags or not, but they are assessed based on the state of the company as a whole in more detail.
“Also, getting the Certified B Corporation doesn’t mean that’s the end. Currently, our score is about 84/100. We set our next goal to raise our score even higher by referring to ‘the steps to reach the score 100’ that the certified body provides us. We will be having an even better score and choosing the best option every year.”
LOT61’s approach to realizing its vision is very pragmatic and well-grounded.
“We understand each process of supply chain and each stakeholder accurately and we quantify the impact of the result. What we strongly believe is “you can’t manage what you can’t quantify,” therefore, we have set KPI as an indicator that we can visualize so that we can analyze the impact from various perspectives.”
As a leading company in the industry, LOT61 never stops evolving. The company carried out the rebranding of the company and renewed its website so they can offer a simple and sophisticated place for people from around the world to mingle and exchange information. Part of this effort was to create a more easily recognizable and variable flavor wheel on the packaging and the colors to allow consumers to identify the country of origin and the flavor of coffee.
“It was around 2019 that the owner stepped down from the front line of management and the company switched to team-based management. We’ve put in a lot of work to achieve the rebranding together and we’re very excited about it. We want to continue sourcing really good coffee, being innovative, and aiming high so that we are the ones that people will continue to follow,” Ray states.
LOT61 opened in Amsterdam as a roastery/café specializing in specialty coffees. One of the reasons it has won so many fans is because it makes effort to try to become an international brand and has been operating with the concept of Australian café culture, which is at the forefront of the coffee culture in the world. Diverse nationalities from 10 to 15 different countries gather and work at the café, which speaks volumes about the character of LOT61.
“The café, which is our starting point, is filled with smiles and communications of the people who visit the store. People don’t think this is a roasting place. The baristas and other staff are all full-time employees in their 30s and they are not students working part-time or on the side, but they are rather professionals who are brewing and serving customers, which I think is the reason why people are attracted to this place,” Ray says.
“I think customers come to this store with a special kind of enjoyment because they can receive a kind of hospitality that they cannot experience in other stores. Aside from the fact that we source and roast really good coffee, what we should be proud of is the positive energy that is filled at the store.”
Leaving their hometown like an adventure to find a richer and more meaningful life, Adam and Paul put down roots in Amsterdam in 2013 as the right place to share their ‘work.’ Were they excited by the adventures of cultivating a coffee culture in a developing place?
Ray says, “We always aim for becoming the best while feeling a little impatient and envisioning the unknown we would encounter along the way. Exploring new places, new ideas, and new impacts makes us feel light-footed. The recent addition of ‘Seasonal Drinks’ to our menu is one such example. It was created by a mixologist, who used to be the head of a famous cocktail bar, it’s not even coffee anymore.”
The innovative and having an out-of-the-box DNA is what makes LOT61 LOT61. Perhaps the reason why people are drawn to this place is that they feel as if they are on adventures with the founders, Adam and Paul and other members.
“I’m in a band and I feel I am having a pristine moment when I drink a coffee and feel totally relaxed, fixing a synthesizer or something when I am alone at home. You lose a track of time when you are immersed in something you love. I have a variety of coffee equipment and tools, but I prefer the analog ones to automatic ones.”