Barista launches its in-house range of delectable desserts

By Naveed Rozais   

In a bold new step, Sri Lanka’s coffee culture pioneer, Barista, has launched its own in-house range of baked goods and desserts as part of a strengthened vision to drive Sri Lanka’s coffee culture.

Speaking on this new and exciting step in Barista’s journey, Barista Marketing General Manager Dilupa Pathirana shared that Barista’s decision to begin handling their own desserts stemmed from Barista’s experiences during the pandemic.

“We anticipated disruption because of Covid-19, but still, when it came to operating during the lockdown, we had no idea how to go about things,” Pathirana explained, adding: “Our business is completely experience based, so for cafes to go into delivery alone is quite difficult. The total experience can’t be manufactured and delivered. The atmosphere of a cafe and the experience within is what draws most people.”

What was unexpected from Barista’s perspective was the complete halt of all delivery operations that came with the first few weeks of the lockdown. “Our major distributor was Uber Eats who didn’t come into the delivery picture until two or three weeks into lockdown,” Pathirana commented, adding: “This put pressure on companies without their own delivery systems. Internally, Barista had been discussing doing own own delivery for five to six years, but Covid made us do it in two days. All our managers and employees stepped in, delivering with their own vehicles until we could get a system in place. We came together as a family.”

Pathirana continued: “It was important to Barista to get going and start our deliveries because we understood that the ones who entered the delivery space during lockdown first would be the ones who would be remembered and trusted most by the public.”

As a cafe that specialised in coffee and pioneered in coffee culture, Barista’s focus had always been on their coffee, and so, had always outsourced their muffins, cakes, and other pastries to local suppliers. The disruption brought by Covid-19 saw many of these suppliers transition from businesses that supplied other businesses to business that began engaging with customers directly; the flip side of the boom in business that delivery platforms brought after the first few weeks of lockdown.

“With our suppliers who used to cater to us going B2C (business to customer) and commencing their own delivery businesses, we found ourselves facing challenges getting the same quantity and quality of products that we used to get before the lockdown,” Pathirana shared, going on to explaining that in one case, they were let down by a supplier they had been using for more than 10 years. “We began to feel helpless and decided to launch our own in-house process, so we could have greater control of our product ranges. Up until this point, Barista had been concerned about perfecting its coffee and service experience. We hadn’t really focused on this segment of our product range.”

Hiring a new chef and investing in their own kitchens, Barista has developed their own ranges of baked goods which will now be served at all Barista locations, trekking time to experiment and achieve the level of quality that Barista is known for.

According to Pathirana, an added advantage of moving their bakery operations in-house was the significant cost savings, which Barista is using to pass savings on to its customers. “Coffee culture is in danger,” Pathirana noted, adding: “With the situation in the country affecting discretionary income, two coffees or even one coffee a day is a significant financial investment. Barista wants to grow this market and the only way to do this is to drive coffee culture and get more people interested in drinking coffee. Barista is doing this by working on our value chain from the ground up and optimising pricing to bring in new customers and provide greater value.”

One of Barista’s ways of adding value and driving coffee culture is through the “Everyday Great Value” campaign, which gives customers the chance to try combinations of various Barista desserts and coffees for as low as Rs. 590. Commenting on the “Everday Great Value” campaign, Pathirana explained: “As the leader and trendsetter in Sri Lanka’s coffee culture, Barista is actively innovating. Cafés and coffee shops in Sri Lanka are not yet mas -market, they still occupy a premium niche, and Barista wants to change this by making coffee more accessible.”

We are more than ready now to take this forward,” Pathirana said, adding: “We have seen a substantial increase in footfall since launching the ‘Everyday Great Value’ campaign three weeks ago. Barista aims to be the most value-adding brand in Sri Lanka, and we have driven all of this innovation despite the pandemic and the quarantine. Every dark cloud has a silver lining, and Barisa will be using this situation to keep coffee culture going and make coffee more accessible.”


PHOTOS Eshan Dasanayaka