How did the idea for Happy.Me™ come about? Have you always been in the food/drink service industry?
We are entrepreneurs at heart and have had a variety of businesses over the years from property development through to aerial photography. This is however our first foray into the food and drink industry. As avid world travelers and foodies we have always cherished the idea of opening our own coffee shop and bring unique tastes from around the world to South Africa. When a perfect location presented itself in Greenside, Johannesburg we decided to take the plunge. Compiling the menu was a challenge as we included beverages from as far afield as Argentina, Indonesia and Hong Kong that required more travel to source our unique ingredients.
You're expanding quite rapidly, what is your dream for your franchise?
We are indeed expanding rapidly, opening a shop a month. The response from the public has been absolutely phenomenal. It really is so rewarding seeing people taste our beverages for the first time and to see the surprise and enjoyment on their faces! Our aim is of course to start a happy.me™ revolution and to open in all major centres nationally. In the medium term we aim to take this unique South African brand international. Our first across border store opens in October in Windhoek, Namibia.
What is your personal relationship with coffee?
We have always had an obsession with coffee and have been experimenting with varieties, flavours, mixes and ways of preparation for years. We enjoy everything about coffee from the intoxicating smell of opening a new bag of beans to savouring a new brew. There really is a kind of magic; a mind-set and a way of life in coffee that we both enjoy. The ritual of a well prepared coffee has a kind of quite reassurance to it, and a commitment to the enjoyment of the finer things in life. Our dedication to the creation of the perfect cuppa inspired us to install the Nuova Simonelli T3 volumetric into our Greenside Store; the World Barista Championship machine for the past 4 years and one of its kind in Southern Africa.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you choose the coffees for your stores?
We have gone through a process of sourcing coffee from various local roasters’ however due to our rapid expansion and the desire to ensure consistent quality through all our stores we have settled with master roasters Tribeca as our official coffee partner. We have worked closely with Tribeca to create unique blends for the happy.me stores. Currently we offer an exquisite arabica coffee grown in the high altitude coffee regions of the world. With a deliciously smooth aromatic taste, light body, intense flavor with just the right amount of acidity to make each cup unforgettable.
You have partnered with Tribeca Coffee Roasting, what about their business synched with your business ethos?
Tribeca has been perfecting the art of coffee for the past 20 years; their passion and dedication to coffee is as impressive as it is inspirational and reflects our own ethos for excellence.
Tell us about 'The Mixology Concept'
Beverages are on average one dimensional..... your first sip tastes the same as your last. Although we offer all the usual suspects such as Cappuccino, Americano, Latte and Espresso we aren’t afraid to experiment and create unique combinations of flavours that create a whole new taste experience. Our beverages are sophisticated and use unique flavour combinations from around the world and include such ingredients as summer berries, vanilla panacotta and imported chocolate. From our divine Rose Latte (farm fresh milk, double shot espresso and rose extract made from rose hips and petals) inspired by the tastes of Morocco through to our delicious iced chocolate chillichino (farm fresh milk, double shot of espresso, Belgian chocolate and organic capsicum extract) – our coffees are made to scintillate.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Innovative, inspirational, passionate
What is your best coffee memory?
There have been many, but one that springs to mind is the ritual of the serving and taste of the aromatic cardamom spiced coffee served in small glasses in North Africa. Vietnamese drip coffees were also a highly enjoyable experience.
You have travelled quite extensively, is there any coffee culture around the world that you hold as your benchmark for what you want to achieve with your stores?
Our menu is a reflection of the people and tastes we found most alluring and inspirational in our world travels. The ethos at Happy.me™ is chillin, thinking, dreaming....... so our coffee benchmark is the best of all those cultures and individuals out there that take time to create and enjoy a great cup of coffee. From the Mediterranean to Patagonia, Hoi Ann to Istanbul there have been many a great cuppa.....
They also have fun foodie options, all designed to make for a happier you!