Start-Up Stories – Scoof
This week we got to chat with Joe Partridge, the founder of Scoof to delve deeper into what Scoof is and how it became a reality. He gives a key insight in to the coffee market, the challenges he’s faced and more!
What is Scoof?
Scoof is a handy kitchen utensil for cafetières, it has 2 benefits that together improve the experience and taste of cafetière coffee. Scoof is designed to clean cafetières with a simple twist, once the cafetière is finished you simply drain any excess liquid, lift out the plunger and insert Scoof; with 3 easy twists over 95% of the waste coffee is collected. The beauty of Scoof is that it collects up the coffee in a mess-free way ready for recycling as compost, fertiliser or a host of other uses. Scoof also stops any risk of blocking sinks or food waste entering drains and the sewerage system as the coffee is collected and not tipped away.
As well as a cafetière cleaner, Scoof is also the ideal cafetière coffee stirrer during preparation as it extracts more flavour from the coffee grounds into the brewing coffee. The cafetière user makes the coffee in the same way as usual, pouring hot water over the coffee, then insert Scoof and gently depress a couple of times to perfectly mix the coffee, more efficiently than a spoon. Coffee aficionados generally recommend waiting 4 minutes for the coffee to brew, but after using Scoof we find that this time can be cut down to just a minute or two.
How did you come up with it?
I used to live in a flat in London with a sink that tended to block up, and cleaning the cafetière was a real problem as the waste coffee was the main cause of my sink blockages. To avoid this I would go to extraordinary lengths including pouring my cafetière waste down the toilet – this did not feel like a great ritual! The whole problem of cleaning the cafetière, was something that I thought could be turned into a useful product solution, and this idea lay dormant at the back of my mind for a long time. Then one day I was using a drill bit to make a hole in a block of wood and realised that this same principle could work to lift out coffee from the cylinder of a cafetière. I set to work on trying to prove the principle and used a basic computer aided drawing program to develop a working model which I then had 3D printed. When I received the 3D model it worked and proved the basic idea but it needed a great deal of perfecting to become a truly simple way of cleaning cafetières.
Did you always want to start a business?
“I have always wanted to invent something and take it to market, so it is the invention step that really excites me.”
In particular, when coming up with a new idea, there are a whole series of problems that are thrown up that need to be solved; succeeding in this is a journey of discovery with highs and lows along the way, but is ultimately very rewarding.
How long did it take to create Scoof? Were there a lot of prototypes?
Scoof took a year or so of my spare time outside of work model-making and prototyping to achieve a design that was practical, efficient and also looked great. Initial designs had no outer wall to retain the coffee and whilst the principle of a sort of propeller worked, it was not very efficient at collecting coffee. I also needed to adjust the pitch of the slope, the height of the wall and eventually after over 20 versions or so the final design was arrived at.
When did you decide the product was ready to market?
In autumn 2017 I had developed a working prototype, conducted market research and gauged interest from potential retailers, all for a reasonably small outlay. It was then time to ‘bite the bullet’ and see if this idea was good enough to take to market and so I took the plunge. In the last 18 months I have been investing time and money in the manufacturing of the product, brand communication and marketing ready to launch in the market. Early signs are that Scoof definitely fits a need as many people do not like cleaning their cafetières after use and the stirring benefit can be revelatory to some who do not ‘stir before they plunge’. Most people I’ve met are impressed with the simplicity of the solution and in fact are amazed that this product has not existed before!
Do you think the coffee market will continue to grow in 2019? What direction do you see it going in?
“The coffee market has been a growth market for a long time and there appears to be no sign of it letting up.”
Consumption of higher quality fresh coffee has grown with the rise and rise of coffee shops, and increasing numbers of younger consumers who are looking for better quality coffee whether in coffee shops, at work or in the home. There are many small businesses that have developed to meet this demand for better quality coffee and more and more consumers are exploring new methods of preparing coffee, and some are even roasting and blending their own coffee. So I believe that the future will see continued growth in the coffee market.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge so far and an on-going challenge for Scoof is creating awareness of this new product idea. From my market research I know that 70% of cafetière users are interested in an accessory that can clean and improve their cafetière experience . . . the only obstacle is that most consumers are unaware that an accessory like Scoof exists!
Where can people find your awesome product?
People can find Scoof on Amazon and a number of independent cookshops. We are in talks with major retailers and hopefully it will be on supermarket shelves soon.
What’s does the future look like for Scoof?
There are millions of cafetières in use across the globe and every cafetière deserves a Scoof! It’s an accessory that improves the preparation and clean-up process of cafetière coffee and fits into the ritual of cafetière coffee making. Scoof encourages the collection of coffee grounds for recycling which is an important environmental benefit in reducing the amount of coffee waste clogging up drains and sewers or going to landfill. Our immediate plans are to launch a smaller version for the smallest size of 3 cup cafetière that many people keep at work or use for making individual servings. Further on down the track we hope to apply the principles of the Scoof design to other applications, for example a device for simply and quickly planting bedding plants.
We can’t wait to see what’s next for Scoof! Want to know more? Check out their website here.