LONDON -- Coffee drinkers in London have a wide array of coffee choices from global high street chains for their caffeine fix.
But many shun high street chains in favor of local coffee shops, where they can enjoy better-tasting coffee. This is the segment of coffee drinkers that brothers David and Nigel Motley would like to tap.
The siblings, who run a coffee shop called Kape and Pan at SOAS University of London, made their dream happen. Only two years ago, they embarked on a big challenge: start their own business with a pop-up coffee shop using locally sourced coffee from Sagada and Benguet.
“I always loved coffee. I’m also proud to be half-Filipino and it started that we really wanted to promote coffee from the Philippines and also from Southeast Asia,” said Nigel.
During their travels in Asia and the Philippines, the home country of theur mother, they discovered an abundance of coffee flavors that are not sold by the big coffee chains. The vision to introduce Asian flavor, particularly Pinoy, became their passion.
“Every time I drank coffee, I tasted different things. I was always amazed at how I could taste fruit, nuts, chocolates, etc. As we began travelling around Asia, we also felt that coffee there had a distinct taste that we could bring over to London because London has been dominated by Latin America, Central America and African coffees. There is an opportunity for us,” said David.
Recently, they found a permanent home at the Paul Webley wing of SOAS after the academic community, including those from neighboring UCLA and Birckbeck University, petitioned for their return when their short-term contract ended. It gave them the boost of confidence to continue what they are passionate about.
“It’s nice to know that people recognize the (different) taste and appreciate the product. It shows how good the quality of coffee from Southeast Asia and it can compete with what’s in London at the moment,” said David.
As their loyal customers expanded, the demand increased. They decided to partner with "green" buyers for their Pinoy coffee as well as coffee from China, Thailand and Myanmar. In the next two weeks, they will introduce Kapeng Barako.
Nigel, 26, is now the hands-on barista, while 30-year-old David juggles between full-time work and helping out in the business to make sure they don’t run out of funds.
The transition from highly cerebral desk work to coffee-tending didn’t come easy for Nigel, who graduated with a degree in Law. But he said he needed to learn and understand every aspect of the coffee business for them to succeed.
“When we started this, we really wanted to be in control of everything and that we know every step of what we do, and everything that we offer. So we thought that the best thing was to train as a barista,” said Nigel.
He added: “It was hard at first, especially for my parents to take, particularly my mom. It was a hard transition from a desk job to cleaning bin, cleaning the (coffee) machine.”
Kape and Pan also offers homemade traditional Filipino snacks such as turon, puto, and cassava cake apart from the Pinoy bread staple pandesal.
While Nigel is taking the coffee business in small strides, his brother is looking ahead and is keen to take a big leap.
“We are here for the long run. He hope to open a coffee shop abroad. We love to open one back home,” said David.