By Bruce Milletto
daily at the offices of Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup we receive telephone
calls, emails, faxes and messages in bottles from people around the
world who are interested in bringing specialty coffee home to their
countries. Many of these individuals have visited the United States
and experienced American coffee culture first hand. Not only did they
witness the popularity of the beverage, but they also saw specialty
coffee as a business opportunity/model that could be adapted to fit
their own countries. As a result of these calls, our client base has
become worldwide in scope, and over the past five years we have done
on-site consulting in Singapore, Mexico, Europe, The Caribbean and
even Central America.
Two years ago we took a call that put a different twist on this scenario.
The callers were Americans who wanted to take specialty coffee to
a country where the beverage was not an established part of the culture,
and the coffee that was available was prepared quite differently than
is found in the typical American-style coffeehouse.
The country is Bahrain, a sheikdom in the Persian Gulf, and the entrepreneurs
are Doug Boys and Mike Clucas. These two Americans had been living
and working in Bahrain for several years and believed the country
was ready for American-style specialty coffee. Their idea was fueled
by the success of several American companies in their adopted homelandBaskin
Robbins, Dairy Queen, and Hardeesand the fascination that Bahrain
citizens have for all things American.
They started their quest systematically, interviewing consultants
across the United States and doing a tremendous amount of research
on the World Wide Web. They then traveled to America and visited numerous
operations, taking close notes on the ones that were successful. The
result was a concept they dubbed "New York Coffee."
an American-style specialty coffee operation in the Middle East proved
challenging. The concept they created probably could have been completed
much more quickly stateside, but the slow-moving bureaucracy in Bahrain
pushed back their opening date time and time again. Doug and Mike
found the Bahraini permit process to be arduous, ordering supplies
and equipment a headache, and finding and training labor often frustrating.
No one on this tiny island really understood the dream except for
these two tenacious Americans. The coffeehouse they envisioned would
fit well in Manhattan, but to create the desired ambience in Bahrain,
they were forced to import almost every fixture from either Europe
or the U.S.
Two months ago their dream was finally realized and they opened the
doors of the New York Coffee Companywell over a year behind
their original schedule. Their determination paid off, and today they
are successfully spreading the American/Italian concept of espresso
beverages to this Muslim culture.
Milletto is president of Bellissimo
Coffee InfoGroup, a company dedicated to providing high quality
educational materials, personalized business consulting and custom
media production for the specialty coffee industry. He can be reached
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