It’s not often that bad coffee leaves a sweet taste of success.
This is what happened when brothers Andrew and Chris Brown turned bad coffee experiences into a tangible business idea by starting The Daily Buzz, which has now become a chain of upmarket workplace coffee bars serving quality coffee in the offices of Gauteng’s blue-chip companies.
It all started in 2006 when Andrew, an accountant by profession, proposed an alternative coffee brew to his bosses at Standard Bank’s Investment Banking division located in the Jo’burg CBD.
“They were getting a lot of pressure from the employees in the building saying the coffee was really bad and that the service was poor,” says Andrew.
In sheer luck of being at the right place at the right time, Andrew was given a three-month trial period to sell coffee in the bank’s building.
He brought on board his younger brother Chris, who was living and working in the UK’s hospitality and travel industry at the time.
Chris honed his coffee brewing skills for the start-up business by training at the London School of Coffee under UK- and World Barista champion. He then joined his brother on the business venture, serving espresso-based coffees from a make-shift kiosk, putting extra emphasis on good customer service.
Eventually they opened a coffee bar in the building, but the demand for their coffee went through the roof that they had to open a second coffee bar to balance the demand.
Today this specialist coffee bar, which prides itself in bringing new methods of brewing coffee to Gauteng’s financial corporate, has six local coffee bars and employs over 40 people. Its current clients are Standard Bank and Rand Merchant Bank.
To ensure the good quality of their coffee offerings across the chain of coffee bars, employees receive on-the-job-training for at least six months.
Andrew says he used his homeloan to source seed capital for the business.
“Now and then whenever we open a new store we’ll use that as a back-up,” Andrew explains.
Chris says in addition to having Andrew’s mortgage as back-up, a lot of good funding has come from the existing stores, with a chunk of the profits being channelled back into the business.
Opening new stores has been a milestone for the brothers; this is despite having to close two stores in auditing firms Ernst & Young and KPMG, mainly because there was insufficient demand.
The Daily Buzz has since introduced a food line, which generates good revenue for the business. On its menu are croissants, pastries, gourmet salads, sandwiches and wraps, which are prepared at its central kitchen.
The brothers are happy with the growth of the start-up, but they are not interested in franchising the business, for now, saying it’s imperative that they keep control of the quality of their coffee.
“The business is going through organic growth. It hasn’t been a case of going out there, opening up five stores and selling our franchises, making a quick buck,” says Chris.
They are looking to purchase a coffee roaster from Portugal so customers can enjoy an increased quality and taste that comes with freshly ground coffee.