The founder of Glaswegian internet café brand iCafé plans to expand within Scotland. Umer Ashraf said he plans to roll out the café brand "one step at a time" in Glasgow, then in other parts of the country.
Ashraf opened the first iCafé in Glasgow in January 2005 and a second in October 2006. A third shop, also based in the West End, will open this July, and a fourth will open in Glasgow’s Southside in January 2009.
iCafé’s point of difference is that it has much better coffee and food than the typical internet café, Asraf told delegates at a Caffè Culture seminar on successful start-ups. "If you look at the internet cafés of the 1990s, they were very impersonal and had no staff interaction and the quality of the food and the coffee was very poor," he said.
iCafé’s food menu includes paninis, wraps, soups and sandwiches, filled bagels and cakes. It also has its own brand of chocolate bars. Ashraf also said top-quality, friendly customer service could be missing from large café chains, so he made that a priority for his business. "The question I asked myself was, ’How would I like to be treated as a customer?’ That’s the way I’m going to treat my customers."
The first thing the customer notices is who’s behind the counter. In a café environment, it’s important that that person at least says ’Hello’ or ’Good morning’. And after you’ve ordered, does someone actually come up and say, ’How was your meal? How was your coffee?’
=== In Short ===
== Clam’s cupcakes ==
South Wales bakery Clam’s has launched a range of cupcakes in coffee and pecan, chocolate fudge and ginger and pumpkin seed variations. The Crickhowell-based bakery, which sources locally, supplies 3,000 cakes a week to retailers including large department stores.
== A touch of froth ==
British coffee machine supplier Fracino’s latest range addition is a bean-to-cup machine. Director Frank Maxwell said the Cybercino unit is ideal for busy cafés, that don’t have time to train a barista. The machine includes a coffee frother for cappuccinos and lattes.
== A better cuppa ==
The London School of Coffee is helping cafés serve a better cup of coffee with its one-day training course. Gayle Reed said: "We run a one-day training course, which runs from 10am to 4pm and costs £150 per trainee. We teach people how to choose the right coffees, roasting skills, barista skills and how to serve the coffee." They leave with a recognised City & Guilds qualification.
== Twinings goes natural ==
Twinings was targeting bakery chains and food-to-go outlets with a new ’All Naturals’ range of fruit infusions. It was also showing four black teas: Kenyan, Ceylon Earl Grey, Assam and Darjeeling, plus a range of Jacksons of Piccadilly Fairtrade teas.
== Juicy stories ==
Tropicana showed its new line of pure fruit smoothies in chiller cabinet bottles, available in a range of flavours.
Good Natured launched a new range of fruit juices made from Rainforest Alliance-certified fruit. The juices come with a tag that says ’Juice that doesn’t cost the earth’ and are available in orange and tropical flavours.
=== iCafé: the offer ===
* High-speed wireless internet access with every purchase
* Also terminals in each café with CD-burning facilities and high-speed USB connections
* DVD rentals in first shop in Great Western Road
* Own-blend coffee from 100% Arabica beans
* Organic tea and pure fruit smoothies