ShelfNow and Caffè Barbera Announce New Partnership: A Modern Distribution Model For A Historic Brand


After a challenging pandemic year, Caffè Barbera and ShelfNow are proud to announce an exciting new partnership, with an initial focus on the UK market. The last twelve months have brought radical change to wholesale distribution in the food and beverage industry, and with it, opportunity for swift expansion.

Wholesale food and beverage distribution is being cleaved into two camps: those who are future proofing their businesses by focusing on innovation and reinvention, and those who are choosing to carry on with outdated models. Expanding digital technologies, changing retail customer preferences, and wholesale bypass have all been key factors in the disruption of the industry.

Caffè Barbera is seeking to improve its distribution network in the UK, bringing its award-winning coffee to a greater number of customers. An outdated distribution model, cumbersome wholesale channels, and high intermediary costs are among the main obstacles to growth in the UK market.

ShelfNow, a London based digital business, empowers small and mid sized producers and retail buyers in the food and beverage industry. The ShelfNow platform connects artisanal producers with independent buyers, allowing buyers to directly purchase wholesale products from producers with greater ease and automation. This minimises costs, makes wholesale purchases and sales more accessible, and increases transparency.

ShelfNow is also committed to fostering a fairer food supply chain. The ShelfNow platform offers a dynamic space for businesses whose identity is defined by sustainable practices, traditional artisanship, and a genuine passion for food.

Caffè Barbera has a unique history. Founded by Domenico Barbera the ‘Coffee Wizard’ in 1870, it is Italy’s oldest coffee roastery. 150 years later the company continues to be run by fifth and sixth generation descendants of the original ‘Coffee Wizard’, and their mission remains the same: producing exceptional coffee, with a distinct Southern Italian flair. Today, Caffè Barbera is a global brand, present in more than 60 countries spanning five continents.

The company has also expanded beyond coffee distribution. In 2004 it launched a new international chain of franchise coffee shops under the Café Barbera brand. Focusing on high-quality and organic products the franchise has thrived: today Café Barbera operates 60 locations across 17 countries.

The Café Barbera franchise is planning to introduce grab-and-go corners in all of its coffee shops, for customers on the move who place a premium on healthy and nutritious snacks. The grab-and-go corners will be stocked with snack products directly sourced from producers on the ShelfNow platform. The high-quality selection of snacks will all come from artisanal producers who share the same passion for food as the Café Barbera brand. 

Philip Linardos, ShelfNow co-founder, and Elio Barbera, Managing Director of Caffè Barbera, released the following joint statement: “This is a very exciting partnership for both Caffè Barbera and ShelfNow. We consider this a springboard to truer vertical integration in food and beverage distribution in the UK. Caffè Barbera will benefit from improvements to efficiency and supply chain optimisation, while also directly sourcing artisanal food products from like-minded producers who are part of the ShelfNow platform. This synergy of efficiency and innovation, coupled with the highest commitment to quality, will ensure that the Café Barbera franchise continues to deliver on the high level of customer experience that its consumers have come to expect."