May’s interview was carried out with Robert Robinson of Notes and Flat Cap Coffee from St Martin’s Lane, London WC2
Notes & The Flat Cap Coffee Co
Notes Trafalgar Square 31 St Martin’s Lane London WC2N 4ER
Notes Covent Garden 36 Wellington Street WC2E 7BD
Flat Cap Fleet St 186A Fleet Street EC4A 2HR
Flat Cap St Giles 60 St Giles High Street WC2H 8LG
Flat Cap Borough Market SE1 9AH
Flat Cap Victoria 4 Strutton Ground SW1P 2HP
Number of outlets: 2 shops, 4 carts
Date Opened: Flat Cap Coffee Co – August 2009 and Notes – November 2010
Who owns the business? Fabio Ferreira, Alan & Marion Goulden, Robert Robinson
Annual turnover? Around 12 tonnes of coffee
Number of staff? Approximately 40
Best selling product? Flat White, New Zealand Black Cottage Sauvignon Blanc, Miles Davies Kind of Blue CD
Where do you source your coffee from? We have an exclusive espresso roasted by Square Mile Coffee Roasters; we also buy coffee from HasBean and other speciality coffee roasters from around Europe, as guest espresso and for our dedicated brew bar.
Cost of 8 oz latte: Notes – £2.60 out £2.80 in, and Flat Cap Coffee Co – £2.20
Cost of a single espresso: Notes – £1.80 out £2.00 in, and Flat Cap Coffee Co – £1.40
Average number of coffees you sell in a week? 6500
Notes Trafalgar Square Monday-Wednesday 7.30am-9pm Thursday-Friday 7.30am-10pm
Saturday 9am-10pm Sunday 10am-6pm
Notes Covent Garden Monday-Wednesday 8am-10pm Thursday-Friday 8am-11pm Saturday 9am-11pm Sunday 10am-6pm
Flat Cap Victoria, St Giles & Fleet Street Monday-Friday 8am-4.30pm
Flat Cap Borough Market Thursday-Saturday 8am-5.30pm
Business model: Notes: coffee, wine and music Flat Cap: premium quality coffee
At Notes Trafalgar Square we sell classical and jazz CDs and world cinema DVDs. At Notes Covent Garden we have live jazz gigs, coffee home brewing classes, wine tastings and private dining events.
We serve food throughout the day: pastries, granola, toast with home-made jam for breakfast; salads, sandwiches soups and tarts – all made in-house – for lunch; and cheese & meat plates along with a range of small plates created by Head Chef Mattia Antonini in the evening.
Flat Cap aims to offer the highest quality espresso-based coffees, from beautiful old-fashioned handmade carts. We started in a street market in Victoria, got head-hunted to serve coffee in Borough Market and have sprung up in two other locations in Central London. The cart offers an opportunity for customers and staff to interact in a relaxed environment – sharing coffee knowledge, putting the world to rights or simply having a friendly start to the day.
What inspired you to open coffee bar business?
Each of us has a different story to tell: Fabio’s grandparents were coffee farmers in Brazil, inspiring a passion for coffee which led to him being crowned Coffee in Good Spirits Barista Champion of Brazil 2007. Alan and Marion are passionate about music having worked in the industry over many years. One of Rob’s first jobs was serving coffee from a van in Paris, after which he brought the concept to London as a franchisee.
Flat Cap but particularly Notes is therefore a product of our personal enjoyment of quality coffee, music & wine, a passion for service, and a belief that we could offer something unique
How have you achieved growth in the business?
Building a customer base is hard work: you have to maintain the highest standards, offer
a personal touch, and most of all take your time. Scaling up the business has required outside investment from people with the means to help, and belief in the project.
What are the highs you have experienced since launching?
Every time a customer has a great new experience – and tells us about it - is a high.
What are the lows?
The early months of each new project are hard – not being busy is difficult financially and psychologically.
What would you say to anyone considering opening a café bar?
Get some experience working in the industry before you start; work out what you want to offer; be prepared to adapt to your local market.
On the financial side, the biggest danger is running out of money, despite having a viable business. In the early days you must do everything possible to keep down costs to prevent this happening.
What’s next for your business?
We want to continue to drive things forward so we are working on roasting some of our own coffee – watch this space. We also think that wine and coffee are natural bedfellows so we are developing our evening offer in that direction.