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Q&A: Bringing military tradition to the commercial coffee market

Coffee brand Twentyfive Four, which takes its name from the date of Anzac Day (April 25), is a profit-for-impact coffee brand founded on the longstanding tradition of coffee in Australian military culture dating back to the First World War.

Back then, troops would knock back a shot of coffee mixed with a shot of rum as a kick of confidence before forging into battle. The business aims to not only produce high-quality products but also act as a force for good in supporting Aussie veterans.

Inside FMCG talked to Kyle Arnold, the navy veteran who conceived the brand and project.

IFMCG: What is the inspiration behind Twentyfive Four?

KA: After leaving the Royal Australian Navy as a Clearance Diver, I was still very much involved in Australia’s defence industry as a wholesaler for military supplies, which led to a joint service trial to reposition the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) coffee offering when on exercise and operations. The ADF needed a product that was agile, consistent, and reliable to suit unconventional environments. After several years of trials and testing within the community, Twentyfive Four began brewing commercially to serve not only our ADF but everyday Aussies, too.

What was the most challenging aspect of launching this business and how did you overcome it?

With global disruption caused by Covid-19, geopolitical tensions and natural disasters, we’ve had no other choice than to be agile and accept things aren’t always going to go to plan. We have an ‘always on’ approach to recruitment, always looking for brilliant minds, inspired by our vision and understanding that to ride the highs of the start-up journey, you must get dirty in the trenches, too.

When you build a brand based on its strong connection to story and identity, it is critical to build a team that shares those emotional ties. Start-ups are surprisingly a lot like the military, success requires strong teamwork and an attitude to throw your body on the line to achieve mission success.

Given the competition in the coffee market, what makes Twentyfive Four stand out?

We’ve focused on quality. Quality beans, quality branding, quality supply chains. Every part of the process must be intentional. That’s why our coffee, once harvested, is stored in aged rum and whisky barrels, infusing them with the rich and distinct aromas of each, sans the alcohol to give our brew its own unique taste but also pay homage to the role and history of coffee in the military. The beans are then roasted locally, brewed, and cold-pressed. The decision to cold press and not cold brew is a point of distinction that sets Twentyfive Four apart from others as the process of cold pressing the coffee beans allows the rich flavours to be preserved, creating a sweeter flavour profile than a normal cold brew, without any added sugar. 

What insights or experiences from your days in the service have helped you in running the business?

My military experience has brought about a “mission success at all costs is paramount” mindset. This has served us well over the last two years of uncertainty allowing us to maintain a laser focus on our vision and face any hurdles that arise with a dedication to the end goal. 

How does Twentyfive Four honour our men and women in the service?

We wanted to build a brand that respected past servicemen and women but was also a beacon of light for our Aussie Troopers of today. No matter the uniform you wear, be it military, law enforcement or emergency services, you are an Aussie Trooper. We are a brand that belongs to the Aussie spirit which inspires our community to step up for good, while also giving a nod to the Aussie Troopers of the past.

Through our commitment to quality and a strong brand story, we hope that Twentyfive Four will inspire the next generation of Aussie Troopers. Twentyfive Four is more than just a delicious range of ready-to-drink beverages, but a functional, meaningful brand that’s also healthy to enjoy. 

How do you see the business evolving in the next couple of years?

We’re a brand for good. Good quality, good health, good impact. We have a vision to infiltrate traditional markets by offering something special to people who share our vision, or who simply want a healthy, functional performance beverage. We’re on a mission to be the leader in the healthy, functional performance beverages category. The team has been deep in the innovation phase of new and exciting non-alcoholic beverages that are both delicious and healthy, beyond our great tasting coffee. 

We want to see Twentyfive Four products in social clubs and venues across the country providing an alternative to alcohol, because times are changing, and we are keen to be a part of this.

  • This story was originally published in our sibling title Inside Small Business.

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