Many people can’t start their day without a hot cup o’ Joe, or since it’s June now, perhaps a tall cold brew. Coffee drinkers also have refined tastes and like a brand they can relate to.
Enter Chamberlain Coffee, a company started in 2019 by YouTuber Emma Chamberlain, who has over 12 million subscribers and creates videos about her life and travels. Chamberlain sells high-quality organic coffee roasted in California and that is sustainably sourced via Food4Farmers, supporting coffee-farming communities in Latin America.
It is among a number of startups trying to bring something different to coffee consumers. For example, Fellow and Blank Street are putting their spin on it, as are lots of celebrity coffee brands.
Today, Chamberlain Coffee announced $7 million in additional funding and an expanded national retail presence in Sprouts and Walmart. This follows the launch last month of its ready-to-drink line of cold brew lattes.
Company CEO Christopher Gallant explained that Emma Chamberlain has been a coffee lover for a long time, and her videos often show her drinking it and talking about it. Wanting to create her own brand, she found a roaster and released a single-serve coffee.
“It took off like crazy, so she brought in folks that had worked in the beverage and branding spaces to help build it from that single-serve product into a full suite of products that was relaunched in 2020,” Gallant told TechCrunch.
Coffee products include cold brew singles, instant sticks, coffee pods, ground and whole bean options in fun names like “Fancy Mouse Espresso,” “Social Dog,” “Sweet Otter Cake Batter” and “Breezy Butterfly.” There is also matcha, chai and other teas.
“We’re really focused on making sure we make great products that can be used for cold brew, whether it’s already a drink, latte or whether that’s single-serve,” Gallant said. “And we have Emma, one of the most powerful voices of Gen Z. It’s leveraging her creative genius to help us create a brand that speaks to her cohort of consumers. If you walk down the coffee aisle and take a look, it’s a very ‘brown’ aisle. We’ve come in with bright colors, fun characters and just a much different approach to the brand than what’s out there already.”
Previously, much of Chamberlain Coffee’s business has been direct-to-consumer through the company’s website and Amazon; however, with the move to retail, Gallant said the company can reach even more customers while out for their ritual shopping trip.
Sprouts has carried Chamberlain Coffee’s dry goods line for the past year and it will now be in 4,000 Walmart stores, Gallant said. It is also launching in “a bunch more retailers this year” that are unannounced at this point.
Meanwhile, both of the new moves are buoyed by that new round of $7 million in venture capital that closed in April. This follows a $7 million Series A in August 2022. The company has now raised close to $20 million in total.
Blazar Capital and United Talent Agency joined Emma Chamberlain in the investment round that also included existing investors Volition Capital, Electric Feel Ventures and Noah Bremen, founder of PLTFRM.
Creating a ready-to-drink line wasn’t easy. It was a big challenge that required building both a new supply chain and downstream distribution team, Gallant said.
“Our team was amazing and did it in eight months when the process normally takes at least a year and a half,” he said.
Gallant declined to go into specifics about the number of customers Chamberlain Coffee served, but did say that over the past year, its subscription business has become a significant portion of online revenue now. The company also plans to double revenue this year.
The new investment plays into that strategy. Gallant intends to deploy the funds into innovation of new products, marketing and hiring to add supply chain, marketing and sales to support the new lines of business.
“We want to continue to come up with new exciting products that consumers love and go deeper into retail,” Gallant said. “We’re really focused on the national and conventional grocery spaces. From there, we are thinking about the next step for us, like drugstores or non-traditional retail. We are also considering expanding geographically. We’ve got a nice foothold in Europe.”