37: Coffee Roaster – Interview with Roberto from 80 Stone

Today we feature Simone and Roberto from London based coffee company 80 Stone.

80-STONE-logo

Tell us about your background! What have done before running a coffee house?

Simone and Roberto met in London in 2006, working together in a restaurant.
Roberto grew up in a coffee shop in Verona and always worked in hospitality, Simone has always worked with coffee: roasting, engineering and barista training.
Roberto left London in 2008 and started running his own busy aperitif & wine bar in Verona.
After finishing in 6th place at the 2010 UK Barista Championship, Simone moved to Central America, where he worked in a coffee exporting company and judged barista competitions in Guatemala and El Salvador. He also secured 2nd place at the Italian coffee cupping competition in 2012.
The two friends met again in London in mid 2012. At the beginning of 2013 they shook hands and decided to open (and build) a coffee shop, Chairs and Coffee.

What do you think of big chains such as Starbucks?

Unfortunately they do not provide good quality coffee and good service, also because most of the employees apply just to get a job (not for passion for coffee). Independent shops in general can be more customer-friendly and can offer better quality products.

How did you come up with the name 80 Stone?

We bought our coffee roaster at the end of December 2014, and we got it shipped from Italy. It is a 5kg F.I.M.T, (Fabbrica Italiana Macchine Tostatrici) produced in Turin, north of Italy 1960c. (The company was apparently bought by Scolari more than 30 years ago). We refurbished the machine ourselves and we started our mission to roast our own coffee at the beginning of April 2015.
We branded our product with the name “80 Stone Coffee” because we kind of figured out that the roaster weighs about 80 stone, plus we were born in the 80s!

simoneroberto

What are some new trends in coffee houses? What do you think of flat white coffee?

Nitro coffee! Also different milks. Flat white is our best selling drink! We love it because is made with more coffee and less milk so you can taste more the coffee.

What is your personal favourite coffee?

It is like asking what is my favourite dish! i can’t really decide!

What are the best and worst parts of running your business?

Worst part: the risk of starting a business! It’s very hard to get customers, there is always competition and it’s important to understand why things sometimes are not going well (especially at the beginning).
Best part: when the business is established, it can give very good rewards (customers feedback, reviews, articles, awards, money). When things are going well it’s very exciting to find more challenges (expanding the business, open a second branch)..

What would you recommend new entrepreneurs? How to get started?

If they have a budget to invest (not much) and passion (a lot), just do it!! Keep in mind that starting a business is a risk, it can work very well… or not.

How many people are involved in your business?

2 co-founders (directors), plus 2-3 staff people.

How much time do you spend running your business per day?

24. Having a business means be always at work, even if not physically in the premises.

Any books about entrepreneurship you can recommend?

Setting up and managing your own coffee bar, by John Richardson & Hugh Gilmartin.

What are your future plans for the company?

Now we are focusing a lot on the roasting, we are planning to develop this part of the business.

How competitive is your industry?

There is really a lot of competition in general, this is why it is important to be aware of the new trends. The market keeps on changing, we must follow it.

Do you use any productivity tools?

It is important to have marketing tools.
At the beginning we were using just free easy-to-manage tools, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Now that we really want to develop the business (especially for 80 Stone Coffee Roasters), we are paying for Google Adwords, two amazing websites with Shopify, plus a professional telemarketing operator.

Tell us some fun facts about you or your business!

Well, working with public is always fun! Everyday there is something weird happening in the cafe! Most of our customers are very friendly young professionals.

How was your company funded?

Listen to this. We founded our limited company 3 years ago, using our laptop in a pub near London Bridge, while drinking a pint of beer. We still laugh at this, when we think about it! In our country this could never be possible!

What is the best business decision you’ve ever made?

Buying the coffee roasting machine. Definitely.

Where is the best place to find staff?

No idea. We are struggling to find staff… There is too much mess on the Internet. Coffeejobsboard.com is a very good website, but it’s not always followed enough by job-seekers. Gumtree.com is very expensive (now £59.00 for an ad!). There are also millions (and millions) of job-apps that make big promises but they don’t give any results, because there are too many of them.

Your website was designed by Phatmonk Studios. Tell us about the experience!

A customer (now a good friend!) was coming to our coffee shop every day, working with the laptop. One day he offered himself to build a website for us (Chairsandcoffee.co.uk). And then he made the second (80stonecoffeeroasters.co.uk)! Now he moved back to Brisbane (Australia), but we always keep in touch. We call him Matt “Triple Shot” because he was drinking only triple shot lattes! One of our coffee blends pays homage to him (Brisbane Espresso blend).

To learn more about 80 Stone please go to 80stonecoffeeroasters.co.uk.