Increasing Efficiency at the Café with Smart Ordering

NYC-based app Odeko offers smart-ordering services, but also transformed its platform into a hospital coffee delivery middleman during COVID-19’s initial breakout.

BY JIYOON HAN
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Photos courtesy of Odeko

New York-based café app Odeko is rewriting the rules for independent coffee shops to now financially benefit from scale and volume—something that’s usually only available to larger corporations. 

Odeko’s founder and CEO Dane Atkinson was a Brooklyn café owner in a previous life. During that time, he quickly learned that specialty coffee was “a great category, a big anchor for communities, and a perfect place for geeks.” Building on insight gleaned from the day-to-day operations of his café, Dane launched Odeko. 

Odeko’s smart-ordering app interface.

In 2019, Odeko’s core technology started as a predictive smart-ordering system that automates inventory ordering for coffee shops. Now, their business includes warehousing and delivery that allows for redistribution of supplies between coffee shops. To do this, Odeko connects its smart-ordering software and one-day delivery service that loads coffee shops with anything they need. Odeko has no minimums and no delivery charges, allowing coffee shops to significantly reduce waste and save on inventory holding cost while buying supplies at cheaper bulk pricing. Dane reports, “The system has a titanic effect of cafés reducing the cost of goods sold from 35% to 25%.” 

What does this mean for the barista behind the bar? Through Odeko’s app, smart ordering connects with the cafe’s POS and inventory to determine exactly what is needed. Odeko notifies the barista what deliveries are expected. The barista can also adjust order levels if they are incorrect. In the evening before closing, the barista can record any waste on the app, which helps improve Odeko’s predictive accuracy measuring actual versus expected consumption.

Prior to the pandemic, Odeko was serving about 100 locations, including Birch Coffee and Joe Coffee, among others. As more coffee shops prepare to reopen, Odeko is helping its existing customers and new cafés like Bean & Bean Coffee, Plowshares, and Bird and Branch get up and running again. Though Odeko’s smart-ordering software can support coffee shops anywhere, its supply-chain services are concentrated in New York City. 

Plowshares Coffee, a client of Odeko, gets ready to open business again.

Now more than ever, Odeko is on a mission to save independent coffee shops in the toughest of times. With the temporary closing of many businesses during COVID-19, Odeko quickly rerouted its internal logistics and operational capacity to drop off coffee at hospitals in need. This quickly led to the launching of #NYLovesCoffee as an effort to support coffee shops, their staff, and health-care frontliners. 

As it becomes increasingly difficult for independent coffee shops to survive against capital-backed coffee companies, especially through the pandemic, smart-ordering apps like Odeko are there to help.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A native New Yorker, Jiyoon Han is a Q Arabica Grader, Q Processing Generalist, and was a judge for the U.S. Coffee Championships 2019 Brewers Cup Prelims. As Chief Daughter at Bean & Bean Coffee in NYC, Jiyoon sources, roasts, and cups coffee. She’s a student at the Harvard Business School, where she is co-president of the Coffee & Tea Club.

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