Grind & Co, the artisan small coffee chain backed by John Ayton MBE, has opened its own roastery, which will enable it to roll-out three or four sites next year.
The six-strong group, which was founded five years ago by David Abrahamovitch and Kaz James in a bid to bring Melbourne’s coffee culture to Shoreditch, is also preparing to launch its seventh site Clerkenwell in October.
The new site, on top of new openings in Covent Garden and Royal Exchange, will further diversify Grind’s core coffee product with an improved food offer and a basement after-hours bar and club.
Abrahamovitch told MCA the new roastery and barista training lab in Shoreditch gave the group a solid foundation for further expansion.
He said: “There’s a number of benefits. Most importantly it means we own as much of the production chain as possible. The key to good coffee is consistency. It’s about minimising the number of variables. The more you can control, the better the product you can come up with. It gives us plenty of capacity to see us through our current site pipeline.
“From business perspective it gives us security because we’re not relying on anyone else, which can be quite a risk. We no longer have to build in a third party top our profit margins. It makes us more financially stables and able to roll out more sites.”
Grind’s six-strong estate currently gets through half a tonne of coffee a week, while the new roastery has capacity for two tonnes a week.
The roastery was funded via a crowdfunding campaign last year which raised £1.5 million in bonds.
Grind also benefited from major investment from entrepreneur John Ayton MBE, co-founder of Links of London, who is non-executive director.
As well as new sites, the London Bridge site is being expanded to double its capacity.
Abrahamovitch said the roll-out of the business had to be done carefully to ensure high standards.
“We’re absolutely going to keep expanding and open more sites next year”, he said. “We’ll probably open three or four. We don’t particular want to go loads faster than that. That’s the limit you can do to a really high standard. As soon as you move into the one a month territory you’re into a much more chain style copy paste roll out which is not what we’re about.”
New openings are dependent on the right sites, he said. “It all starts with finding beautiful buildings. Nearly all our estate is listed, either Grade I or II. It’s about finding buildings we fall in love with. We don’t do glass boxes or shopping centres. We don’t do run of the mills sites. They’re quite unique. That’s the defining factor.”
While coffee is Grind’s core product, Abrahamovitch is mindful of the potential pitfalls of relying solely on a day-time coffee offer.
As a result Grind has diversified into cocktails, with its expresso martini a popular option, as well as a restaurant food range, educational partnerships around coffee and even a music recording studio.
Abrahamovitch said Clerkenwell would “raise the bar” in its food offer, with the basement club-style bar adding another point of interest.
“Personally we’re about much more than coffee”, he added. “It’s our core product nut a lot of our revenue now comes from cocktails. We have full-on restaurants. We’re diversifying to reduce that risk.
“I do worry how sustainable the daytime only coffee shop in prime central London is. Unless there’s a correction in rent it’s going to be challenge for people to open daytime only coffee venues.
“In Australia, which is so often ahead of the game, we’ve seen a big movement to table service, much more full service with food and alcohol and coffee all under one roof.”