People are often heard wondering why there is never good coffee in shopping centres. Plantation Coffee in Melbourne started out as the answer to this challenge. We sat down with coffee shop owner and Square seller Calvin to ask a few questions about location, long blacks and how he launched his second small coffee bar in 22 square metres of Melbourne’s central business district.
What made you decide to start Plantation Coffee?
We started Plantation as an experiment. Most people said specialty coffee wouldn’t work in a shopping centre. We truly felt there was a need for quality coffee in these convenient places, and studies have shown that the number one reason people choose where to buy their coffee from is location and convenience, followed by quality and consistency. Setting up our first speciality coffee bar in Melbourne Central (one of Melbourne CBD’s largest shopping centres) made sense, and we haven’t looked back.
Your most popular drink?
Lattes lead the way, followed by a tie between Flat Whites and Cappuccinos, and in black coffee, the Long Black is the biggest seller followed by the humble Espresso. The beans we use in our milk coffees are specifically roasted for milk-based coffee, as are the beans we use for our black coffees. Square Point of Sale is a great tool that helps show us this level of data - I’m constantly up to date on what’s selling, and what’s not.
Any advice for those starting a new business?
Go into a business or industry that you truly have passion for. Don’t start a business on the side, this rarely works, because if you don’t devote enough time and effort during the initial stages of business, your chances of success are even slimmer than they already are. Don’t be afraid to fall, each time you fall is another lesson. Ask for help and learn from those who have succeeded, I’ve found that truly successful people are more than happy to mentor, you just have to ask!
What is one feature of Square Point of sale that you couldn’t live without?
My favourite part of Square Point of Sale is being able to log in anywhere, anytime, from any device, and see how my businesses are tracking in real time. I can report immediately on any aspect of the business since it opened. And my accounts team would love me to mention the Xero integration which means far less manual work for them!
So we’ve heard you’re expanding…
Our newest Plantation Coffee Bar in QV, another of Melbourne’s city-based shopping centres, is a bit of a showcase for us. It combines technology like Square Point of Sale to help speed up our checkout with a specialty coffee experience, all from within a 22-square-metre tenancy. It was a real challenge to design and build an efficient coffee bar in such a small space, not to mention a triangular one with a cement pillar in the corner! One of the comments we hear when we propose a new bar is ‘There are already so many coffee shops, you’re really going to build another?’ Yes, Melbourne does have many coffee shops, but the amount that do a fantastic job is low, and within the shopping centre market, it’s next to none. We’re hoping to raise the standard of the coffee served in shopping centres in Melbourne and around the world, through innovative experiences, quality beans and education.