Gallant said it was hard to say whether there was one tipping point, but identified “a bunch of moments” that he thinks fueled growth, including diversifying into non-coffee products such as chai and matcha and other coffee accessories including straws, along with getting into retail.
The brand in August announced that it had raised $7 million in Series A funding to expand its reach. It declined to disclose revenue.
Chamberlain Coffee’s jump into in-store retail has included Erewhon in Autumn 2021, along with Bristol Farms in March, Sprouts in June and Pavilions in August, according to a spokesperson. “When you’re in trusted stores like Erewhon and Bristol Farms, consumers really see that as a proof point of legitimacy,” said Gallant.
The brand’s matcha, launched in September 2021, became its best seller by units from November last year to this year. Its chai, launched in October, was its second best-selling product from November to December 2022, selling out completely in December. This was also seen as “proof that consumers wanted more from us,” said Gallant.
“We’re trying to create a brand that can live on its own but is deeply tied to Emma,” said Gallant. “You won’t see Emma posting every single story about Chamberlain Coffee” on social media, he said. By the same token, “you won’t see us overusing her on our social media.”
Chamberlain Coffee’s marketing strategy has “always been heavily social,” said Ahern. Its biggest audience is on Instagram and TikTok, with 530,000 followers and 344,000 followers, respectively, as of December.
It also has accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. It uses The Colony Creative as its social agency with Qualify Digital Labs for paid media work. The brand plans to expand to other platforms such as podcasts and a YouTube content series, said Ahern. Chamberlain representatives declined to provide details on where it spends on paid media.
Chamberlain Coffee takes a “more playful approach” in comparison to its coffee company competitors, which “tend to be very serious,” said Ahern.
Creating different characters for the coffee including an owl and a tiger focuses on “how you’re going to feel” rather than how other brands focus on the taste of the coffee, said Erin LaBranche, a strategist at R/GA, which doesn’t work with the brand.
The characters appear on the packaging and in the product names, such as a bird sipping a cup for “Gentle Hummingbird Chai.” They are also featured in the brand’s advertising, such a Halloween mural during the brand’s October collaboration with Carrera Cafe in West Hollywood.