Featured customer: Curators Coffee
Catherine Seay, and a small group of antipodean coffee lovers are behind the fairly recently opened Curators Coffee in the City of London.
Catherine has been ingrained in the coffee industry for a while.
Stints as a part-time barista in Australia kick-started an interest in the brown bean, which gathered speed when she decided on a career change. Time spent in one of London’s most respected independent coffee bars – Kaffeine – stoked the interest and desire to branch out on her own venture.
We find out what motivates her and why she can’t wait to serve her mum.
1. What do you love most about your job?
I love meeting and developing relationships with customers – I don’t think you could work in hospitality if you didn’t. I also love the supportive and friendly network of specialty coffee professionals in London and around the world. I think its quite special. But most of all I love the people I work with everyday. Sometimes I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be able to work alongside the amazing and talented staff and partners I have.
2. …And loathe the most?!
I hate what the combination of coffee and cleaning chemicals do to your hands. You can always spot a hard working barista from a mile off by their cracked, brown stained hands.
3. Time in the industry, and why coffee?
I spent 4 years working in a fast paced coffee chain environment in Australia while I was studying Exercise Physiology. After I graduated I realised that Exercise Physiology wasn’t actually a real thing and I would have to do something else.
I love coffee because it offers you so much depending on what angle you look at it from.
It is a science with growing, brewing and roasting; an art form with latte art and barista styles; a way to perk you up, and a way to relax (with cake) with friends.
I’m now into my 3rd year of working in specialty coffee in London and am still excited by coffee everyday.
4. Favourite coffee?
Big funky naturals are my favourite but I can’t really pin it down to a specific region. There are so many minute differences in processing that can affect the taste of coffee it is hard to generalise, and I have a new favourite every week.
5. You’re in a very competitive area, how do you attract customers, and then retain them – with the lure of the high street chains ever present?
Having a good quality coffee and food offering from local suppliers is essential, but it’s creating a unique and welcoming environment that makes the biggest difference.
Design has a major impact on the look and feel of the place and being in the city we’ve made sure we stand out not only from other independent cafes but our city surroundings.
Even more important is having great staff that care about what they do and build rapport with customers. I really believe that staff are a businesses biggest asset.
6. Biggest business challenge at the moment?
We are still quite a new business so I’d say our biggest challenge is wanting to develop more in terms of coffee skills and knowledge but having to prioritise things like paying bills and accounting first. Plus I’m somehow able to destroy the normal functioning of any piece of technological equipment needed to perform these tasks which is insanely frustrating!
7. Who is your most famous customer? OR who would you most love to serve?
My Mum is not very famous but I can’t wait to serve her next time she visits from Australia. That or Thierry Henry so I can convince him to come out of retirement permanently for Arsenal.
8. Filter or espresso?
Filter! Everyone can make great filtered coffee if they follow a few easy steps. Espresso has so many variables and our Strada allows us to play with an extra one with the ability to pressure profile the entire shot.
I love it, but to me nothing beats the beauty of a well made filter from a single origin.
9. Is there a particular coffee which sells better than others?
We have on offer at our shop a house espresso which is really well rounded, a guest espresso which is anything weird and wonderful we can find, and also a beautiful black filtered coffee option. Our house espresso, which is Union’s Rogue, is definitely the most popular but once again I’m inclined to talk more about taste rather than origin when it comes to popularity.
10. What slogan / strapline would be on your advertising campaign?
Drinking Coffee Gives You Ninja Powers