At the end of 2017 Belorussian watch plant Luch decided to make great coffee its new marketing strategy and opened a coffee shop right next to the brand’s store on the first floor of the plant’s main building in Minsk. According to marketing.by, the idea originated from the image of a traditional bookshop where customers can also buy a cup of coffee and enjoy their books in a cozy atmosphere. The new ‘watch’ café was supposed to become an attraction as well as a part of the brand’s new strategy. To reach this goal the plant invited Belorussian roasting company ROAST. The two very different businesses teamed up to create a space that would be absolutely new for Minsk.
Ivan Kravtsov, the vice general manager of Luch, says the concept of the coffee shop reflects the brand´s style and image, while the name – 1801 – is a reference to the famous watch mechanism used in 40% of the company’s watches. The whole philosophy of the place was to move away from the communist past, but not to turn into a trendy hipster spot. The target image includes city culture and rationalism, some sort of capitalist approach where the central place is given to an individual. So design was created to represent this attitude. For example, ceiling to floor windows that are not typical for Minsk cafes, very airy space and enough room for tables to stand at a distance from each other so that meetings were possible without any interruptions.
While the Luch team was responsible for design and the general concept, ROAST provided equipment and coffee. A lot of coffee shops in the city buy their products, but 1801 has become the first place where ROAST sells coffee under its own brand. Viacheslav, a co-founder of ROAST, points out that the new coffee place pays great attention to the coffee drinking habit of Belarusians. For example, they are used to having a dessert with their coffee, so the place offers a great selection of those, as well as various options for breakfast. Besides that, ROAST is the only company the brings rare sorts of coffee, like kopi luwak, to the country. So 1801 is actually the only place where locals can try a cup of such coffee or even buy grains to prepare this coffee at home. Meanwhile, 1801 has already earned a certain popularity among its target audience and has influenced sales in the Luch store which can be definitely seen as a great start.