A few years ago, there were few coffee shops in Pokhara. Cappuccino, Latte, Americano and Espresso were completely new term among the Pokhrelis. Foreign guests and few locals would turn to the coffee shops. But, the time has changed now. The business of coffee shops have tremendously grown yielding more than 300 coffee shops in Pokhara. Coffee has become a social beverage and Coffee shops are turned into a social gathering place and a comfortable place to work and spend a couple of hours. To make coffee culture popular in Pokhara, Coffee culture has valuable contribution.
Coffee Culture is one of the oldest and most recognized coffee house in Pokhara famous for its taste and cozy environment. Irfan Khan is the owner and founder of Coffee Culture. Belonging from a business family, he dreamt of going abroad and earning money after his +2. While he was in Dubai, he got to work in Starbucks. After few months of working there, he decided to return back.
Unfortunately, after some time his father passed away. Now it was all his responsibility to take care of the family and business. He continued his family business and on the other side he also invested in IT sector with some of his friends.
He used to visit China regularly for his IT business and he would visit Starbucks every time. He was impressed with the prevailing coffee culture and saw the possibility of Coffee House in Pokhara. As a result, he established Coffee Culture in the busy market of Chipledhunga on 11 November 2011.
Today, Coffee Culture has total of three outlets in New Road, Manipal Hospital and Water Front Resort.
In an exclusive interview with Glocal Khabar, Irfan shares his stories of struggle current situation of his business and his future plans.
Q. How do you remember your initial days?
We struggled really hard in our initial days. There was no coffee drinking habit among Nepalese at that time. As our name suggests, our motive was to develop this culture. Load shedding, unavailability of machines and lack of skilled baristas were major problems. During our first year, we ran in a complete loss. But, encouragement and feedback from those few of our visitors inspired us to continue.
Q. What was the turning point for your business?
Well, Manipal Hospital was searching for a café interested to operate in their hospital we got selected. This was the turning point for my business. I was confident enough that we would sustain there as there were many students hailing from abroad. My expectations came true. Our business ran successfully there and at the same time, the coffee culture was slowly developing among Pokhrelis which was our motivation.
Q. How are you different than other coffee houses?
We believe in quality. We always try to make sure that our coffees are of international standard within a reasonable price. We use Lavazza Coffee Beans with the unique taste. We have skilled baristas and our staffs are really amiable. Our place is cozy and really comfortable to relax or work with high-speed internet access and filled with a variety of magazines. Our customers are primarily youngsters and we do have regular customers. Most of our new customers come through referrals.
Q. What kind of challenges do you face in business?
The major challenge that we face is finding good staffs and trained baristas. We ourselves train baristas but once they become perfect, they move abroad.
Q. Tell us about your Barista School.
Since 4 years, we have been running our own barista training school. More than 500 are graduated from our barista school and most of them are working abroad in a multinational chain. It feels really good and gives a kind of satisfaction seeing our graduates working in big chains.
Q. What are your future plans?
I am planning to introduce more varieties of coffee in our outlets. I am thinking about opening new outlets in major cities of our nation through a franchise model. I am also planning to make an investment in growing coffee beans in Nepal.
Q. What are your wise words to youths who are thinking of open new café shops?
Nepal has seen a tremendous growth in Coffee shops business in few years. There is a great future in it. But, the bitter truth is that coffee beans which are needed to make coffee come in a large amount from abroad. We should realize our potential to reduce the dependency.
Presented By: Avishek Lamsal