Photo: Barista Royal

Barista Royal: Doing good with good coffee

The coffee startup Barista Royal combines high-quality taste from bean to roast with social responsibility. In line with the two founders' mission to create an inclusive working environment, the young company integrates people with disabilities into the production process. A conversation about taste, diversity and social entrepreneurship.

Munich Startup: What does your startup do? What problem do you solve?

Barista Royal: Simply explained: we roast delicious coffee together with people with disabilities. We have set ourselves the task of solving two problems: Firstly, we want to offer coffee lovers the most delicious coffee. We rely on traditional, gentle drum roasting and only use high-quality coffee beans to protect the environment and offer our customers a full-bodied taste experience.

Secondly, we want to make a social contribution by integrating people with disabilities into the work process. In doing so, we not only create jobs, but also promote inclusion and diversity in the workplace. By purchasing our products, our customers are therefore making a direct contribution to supporting this important mission.

Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!

Barista Royal: Yes, there are already providers of good coffee, but we go one step further. Our social approach is at the heart of what we do. Not only do we roast first-class coffee, but we also create social value through our inclusive practices. Every purchase directly supports the work and well-being of people with disabilities who are involved in the production process.

Barista Royal: Social entrepreneurship in practice

Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?

Barista Royal: Our founding story is not only the story of a passion for coffee, but also of a deeper mission. Chris, one of the founders of Barista Royal, was confronted with the issue of inclusion at an early age. His sister was born with a physical disability and struggled to find work even in adulthood with her one-sided paralysis. Despite completing her education and making every effort, she was unsuccessful. This experience not only triggered frustration in Chris, but also a desire for change.

Michael, the second founder, a sensory expert and a true connoisseur, has always been driven by the question of why coffee tastes so delicious on vacation in Italy, but is often sour and bitter in Germany. His curiosity led him on a journey through the world of coffee. When he shared his idea of his own coffee with Chris, their visions came together.

It was a moment of clarity: “We combine our passion for excellent coffee with the goal of creating an inclusive working environment”. That’s how Barista Royal was born – a company that is proof that social entrepreneurship is more than just a concept. It is a viable practice that can change lives.

Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Barista Royal: We live in a world in which we are trying to automate as much as possible. Work steps in many companies are optimized for efficiency and effectiveness, processes are outsourced or people are replaced by machines. Working with people with disabilities is completely different. It’s all about people here. We have to adapt work steps to our employees and not the other way around. This is in complete contrast to what happens elsewhere in the world. To give a simple example: Each of our coffees has a different color. On the one hand, we do this to express what’s inside, for example our Amore E Basta is a bright red. However, the colors also help to integrate people with reading difficulties. This is exactly what presented us with major challenges at the beginning, as the processes were simply not as scalable as we needed them to be.

The higher production costs are always the biggest challenge here. That is also the reason why we primarily use the direct sales channel and not through retailers. We would very much like to be represented in more Edekas, Rewe etc., but the pressure on margins is often more important in retail than the promotion of social projects.

“We want to be the best-known brand for social projects in Germany”

Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in a year, where would you like to be in five years?

Barista Royal: See you on “Die Höhle der Löwen” in a year’s time. No, joking aside. We are constantly working to enchant more people with inclusive, high-quality products. Driven by the interest of our customers, we therefore started creating teas with “Tea of Dreams” last year – together with people with disabilities, of course. Our biggest goal for the coming year is to continue to gain a foothold with both Barista Royal and Tea of Dreams – in direct sales to end customers, but also in companies, cafés and retailers. In five years’ time, we want to be the best-known brand for social projects in Germany. We want everyone to immediately think of Barista Royal when it comes to social entrepreneurship. In order to achieve this, we need the broad distribution mentioned above and strong retail partners who not only focus on high margins, but also on their social responsibility in our society.

Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?

Barista Royal: Munich is much more dynamic and flexible than its reputation. There are an incredible number of clever minds with great ideas. However, there is one major difference to many other locations that cannot be concealed: The high cost of living, first and foremost the rent, makes it incredibly difficult for small companies. This limits the variety and number of start-ups. However, the financial pressure of suffering inevitably also motivates people to “step on the gas”.

Munich Startup: Public transport or bike?

Barista Royal: This question makes our founder Michael’s heart beat faster: he is an absolute cycling enthusiast. Nothing gets him going more than a fresh breeze while cycling – unless it’s a good cup of coffee before, between or after a ride.