Morning Machine isn't just a coffee maker – it's a coffee ecosystem. The Singapore-based company makes both hardware (a capsule-based coffee machine with 10 specialty brew modes, from short light roast to Kyoto-style slow drip) and software (an app that allows users to customize temperature and water pressure to their liking, plus a marketplace), along with selling capsules from independent roasters around the world. And the whole thing just officially launched out of a successful Kickstarter last year.
Owning the full product ecosystem – à la Apple's devices, software and services model – can make a company's products extra sticky, but it's tough to do in the food-and-beverage industry where consumers have near limitless options. Not to mention the extra challenges of essentially developing three businesses in one. But for Morning Machine founders Andre Chanco and Leon Foo, who founded the company after a decade of coffee roasting and importing experience, the parts couldn't stand alone.
Why the ecosystem?
Around 2018, Andre and Leon saw two opportunities in the marketplace: a rise in specialty coffee consumption and a growing coffee-capsule market. However, there was a big disconnect. Brewing specialty coffee is part of the experience – roasters couldn't control how the coffee would taste if it was simply put through a standard coffee maker, which could hurt the brand reputation on taste. They realized that if they made a machine that could brew with more specificity, independent roasters could create capsules knowing that quality would be preserved.
It also allowed them to create something proprietary in a crowded market – if a consumer wanted to experience that cup of coffee in its truest form, they could only do so via the recipes that that roasters provide to the Morning Machine app. The marketplace ties it all together, as a place for discovery of new roasters.
Having three different sides of the business also allows for three different opportunities for insights that inform how each product is developed. Due to some hardware delays, Andre and Leon chose to soft-launch the marketplace first, which gave them insights into customer preferences, such as buying frequency and taste, which gave them an early sense of how people might use the machine. Similarly, they are monitoring analytics from the firmware to get an idea of which capsules to promote or add to the marketplace.
‘All three are important at this stage because not all marketplace customers have the machine, and not all machine owners purchase from our marketplace,’ says Andre. ‘We're building towards that cohesive experience as we move forward.’
Though capsule coffee has come a long way, on a broader scale it still has a reputation for waste and poor quality. But the duo see this as an opportunity. On the sustainability side, they are making efforts to stock recyclable and compostable coffee capsules. On the quality side, they're working to build a coffee club, creating a community around capsules like there is in the rest of the specialty coffee world. One of the biggest insights from their marketplace is that people are using it for discovery of roasters they wouldn't have access to otherwise.
With all three parts of the product ecosystem in place, they're hoping to redefine what convenient coffee means. ‘It really pushed us to think about home baristas not as a closed system, but a community-based system,’ says Leon.