It’s time for something new

After 14 years we’re hanging up our keyboards. Our team is joining the lovely people at Culture Amp, where we’ll be helping build a better world of work.


Dispatch #2: Your Coffee, Faster

By Tim Riley27 Jan 2011

Last week saw us send out Decaf Sucks Dispatch #2. Along with a new bean (this month, a delicious Brazilian single origin), we also took the chance to employ a few new business procedures.

As I wrote earlier, we built the Dispatch web app in just a few days, and kept it as simple as possible in order to ensure the earliest possible launch. Since that time, the app has been serving its purpose well - it’s been taking orders and processing payments without a hitch. The part of the process that was still rough and unrefined was what came after the orders - packing everything for the monthly delivery. Our first delivery was put together excitedly but haphazardly, with a the aid of a couple of spreadsheets and a lot of handwriting addresses on parcels. We knew this was the area to improve next, especially when Dispatch #2 was going to be twice as large as its predecessor.

To help, we added one more model to the Rails application that runs the site - the “shipment”, a clear way of grouping together the people who should be receiving coffee on any particular month. To start with, this lets us keep the next shipment’s date clearly visible on the site, an important thing as people start to hanker for their monthly fix. Better still, it means we’ve been able to create auto-generated shipping label sticker sheets for each month’s shipment. Along with each address, we print a code representing the grind type, whether it is a gift, and the length of subscription.

This makes the packing process a simple 3 steps:

  1. Stick the labels on the postage bags
  2. For each postage bag, pack the appropriate coffee bag and info card
  3. Seal the bags
Dispatch #2 Bags

Max and I did it in less than 45 minutes for Dispatch #2 (all while watching the Australian Open). Not only was it faster, but we could also be confident that we were packing everything entirely accurately.

What’s next? We’ll definitely need a bigger coffee table. Besides that, we’ll start to auto-generate the info cards that we attach to the coffee bags (while still maintaining their lovely design). This is the last of the manually-created material in our process, and auto-generating them means that we can insert each person’s name onto the card that belongs to them, as well as anything else that relates to their subscription, such as a renewal reminder if it is their last month.

Dispatch has provided us a fun and educational opportunity to grow a side business, and we’re really happy to share the process with you through articles like these. Even better though, it’s provided us the chance to share our love of coffee across the country. There’s nothing better than seeing messages like these on Twitter:

“2nd shipment has arrived from @decafsucks! Squeezing and sniffing…. Ahhh!! :)” – @d_sheehy

“Woah, that cup of Coffee (Brazilian Blue from Lonsdale St. Roasters) was fantastic! Well done @decafsucks” – @benjmay

This is why we love coffee, and exactly why we’re doing Dispatch! If you think the smell of one bag is nice, imagine the smell of multitudes! We’ve started to put some of these on the site as testimonials, right above a nice spread of photos of the product. Check them out, and we’ll see you next month!