Madrona leads $9M investment in coffee startup Trade, which connects home brewers to roasters

(Instagram Photo via @tradecoffeeco)

If you’re home-brewed coffee is one of the less appealing aspects of working from home, perhaps you need a fresh jolt from a specialty roaster. Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group is helping to fund one startup that can make that coffee connection.

Madrona announced this week that it has led a $9 million financing round in New York-based Trade Coffee, whose marketplace features more than 400 blends from a variety of small roasters across the United States.

The investment in the 2-year-old company comes out of Madrona’s “acceleration fund,” a strategy developed in 2019 as a vehicle for participating in later rounds for more mature companies both in and out of the Pacific Northwest.

Madrona said in a blog post that it is attracted to Trade’s “two-sided marketplace,” in which it is as valuable a service to the roasters it works with as the consumers who shop for coffee. Trade works with 56 roasters, including Caffe Vita and Kuma Coffee out of Seattle.

“It’s a super high-quality product that could have a much bigger demand footprint if they could only figure out how to reach customers all over the country,” Scott Jacobson, managing director at Madrona, told Bloomberg, which reported a 7% to 10% rise of coffee sales at home during the coronavirus pandemic as cafes were shuttered.

Customers can get started on Trade by answering a series of questions, starting with whether they are a newbie or a coffee nerd and continuing with how they brew, what type of taste they prefer, ground or whole bean, whether they add cream, etc. Trade matches all of those preferences with recommended roasts, and customers can order a single bag or sign up for a subscription.

Bloomberg reported that Trade has tripled its subscriber base to almost 75,000 since January.

The model is similar to Seattle-based Bean Box, which uses human and algorithmic magic to connect customers with Pacific Northwest roasters of premium coffee.

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