Kensington's Caphe Roasters turns to online sales to help during pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Caphe Roasters sits in the MaKen building on I Street in Kensington. It is touted as the only Vietnamese coffee roastery in Philadelphia.

"We highlight Vietnamese coffee, but we also roast other coffees from Southeast and East Asia," explained Thu Pham, who is one of the owners.

Caphe Roasters operates primarily as a wholesale business, partnering with area markets and growing relationships with restaurants. They also held pop-up events-- until March.

"Our wholesale clients dropped 70%, and then we were doing lots of pop-ups and catering events throughout the week, obviously those just halted," Pham said.

So they zeroed in on e-commerce, bolstering their website with plans to launch a subscription service soon.

Caphe also partnered with five other local businesses to design online customizable care packages known as the Joy Boxes.

"There's coffee, cheese, beer, a bunch of ice cream and pops, and mushrooms!" Thu exclaimed.

A report released by the non-profit Connected Commerce Council (3C) found that during the COVID-19 crisis, 76% of small businesses rely more on digital tools.

Thu was among more than 300 Pennsylvania business owners that signed a letter from 3C to Governor Wolf urging continued support for online tools that have been vital to small businesses.

"When that lockdown was put in place, we all had to figure out what are we going to do to keep our small business that we put a lot of our money, a lot of our time, a lot of our care, a lot of our families' trust into," Thu said.

While the online tools have helped, they do not replace Caphe's back-to-normal, in-person business.

Caphe Roasters is hoping to be able to open a student-run cafe in October.
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