Italian duo Simone and Roberto opened their coffee shop “Chairs and Coffee” in Fulham a year ago. How is it possible to establish yourself in what could be considered an overcrowded market and get rave reviews at the same time? Maryana and Jarek from Bondi Chai find out.
Bondi Chai: So, how did you come up with the idea?
Simone: I worked with coffee for many years, in London and in Central America where I worked in the quality control departement at a coffee export company. Back in London I was doing a lot of training events. I helped people who wanted to open a coffee shop and didn’t have a clue, especially how to make great coffee. I became a judge at some competitions as well. The skills I gained brought me to the point where I wanted to open my own coffee shop. I also had a very good friend Roberto, who had been working in catering for years. He knew exactly how to handle coffee shops or bars and how to run them.
Bondi Chai: Why “Chairs and coffee”?
Simone: Why the name? We basically had lots of chairs and didn’t know what to do with them! So, we tried to register the company as “Chairs Limited” but they told us it was already taken. So we agreed that as long as the name has “chairs” in it, we’ll take it!
Bondi Chai: Why Fulham as your location?
Simone: It just happened. We were first looking all around London but we realized we had to focus on one particular area. First, there was South London, but Roberto wasn’t a big fan. Then there was East London as there are lots of independent coffee shops already with a great vibe. In the end, we went for West London and found this great place in Fulham.
Bondi Chai: How do you set yourself apart from other coffee shops?
Simone: We have different coffees (filtered and espresso types) and keep rotating our coffee selection so one day it could be coffee from Ethiopia and another day it could be Guatemalan. We look after our coffees, we organise coffee tasting classes and barista classes. In some coffee shops the management tries to make everyone happy and sell whatever people ask for. We are trying to stick to the way we like it and try to make people like it too!
Bondi Chai: What have been the challenges during your first year?
Simone: The biggest challenge was to survive. Running a coffee shop is not easy but we learned a lot from it.
Bondi Chai: Any advice to the people that want to open a coffee shop?
Simone: Yes! Work long, very long hours. We work 12 hours a day on average, but the job is rewarding, and we get great reviews. We love our customers and they tell us we are doing a great job.
Bondi Chai: Why did you choose Bondi Chai?
Simone: I didn’t know much about chai latte though I saw people making it in other places. Later, we visited Coffee Festival, brought some samples of chai latte, including Bondi Chai. We tried about 5 different brands but Bondi Chai stood out. Compared to the other chai lattes it tasted natural and there was much more going on in my mouth (complexity and body in coffee terms) . We serve Bondi chai with either cow’s milk or soya milk, depending on the preferences of our customers.
Bondi Chai: Any plans for the future? Any chairs left for another place?
Simone: I’d like to set up a roastery in our shop. We don’t have any chairs left but a few more tables so maybe we’ll call it “Tables and coffee” though I’m not running it this time!
Bondi Chai: Simone, you’ve been a great host and it’s an honour supplying your coffee bar. Good luck with your business .
Chairs & Coffee started selling Australia`s favourite chai latte in July. Since then, a growing number of chai lovers have come to enjoy it here regularly. Bondi Chai is a delicious, creamy blend of milk, cinnamon, honey and spices (ginger, star anise, vanilla) It is made from the highest quality, natural ingredients. It has no artificial flavourings, colourings or additives and is 99% fat free. You can taste that.