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Coffee’s Daily Buzz

It’s not often that bad coffee leaves a sweet taste of success. This is what happened when brothers Andrew and Chris Brown turned bad coffee experiences into a tangible business idea by starting The Daily Buzz, which has now become a chain of upmarket workplace coffee bars serving quality coffee to employees of Gauteng’s blue-chip companies. It all started in 2006 when Andrew, an accountant by profession, proposed an alternative coffee brew to his bosses at Standard Bank’s Investment Banking division located on Jo’burg CBD. “They were getting a lot of pressure from the employees in the building saying the coffee was really bad and that the service was poor,” he says. With the sheer luck of being at the right place at the right time, Andrew was given a three-month trial period to sell coffee in the bank’s building. He brought on board his younger brother Chris, who was working in the hospitality and travel industry in the UK at the time. Chris honed his coffee brewing skills for the start-up business by training at the London School of Coffee. He then joined his brother on the business venture, serving espresso-based coffee from a makeshift kiosk, putting extra emphasis on good customer service. Eventually they opened a coffee bar in the building, but the demand for the coffee went through the roof that they had to open a second coffee bar to meet demand. Today this specialist coffee bar, which prides itself in bringing new methods of brewing coffee to some of the top financial corporates, has six local coffee bars and employs over 40 people. Its current clients are Standard Bank and Rand Merchant Bank. To ensure the good coffee quality of their coffee offerings across the chain of coffee bars, employees receive on-the-job-training for at least six months. Andrew says he used his homeloan to source seed capital for the business. “Now and then whenever we open a new store we’ll use that as a back-up,” he explains. Chris says in addition to being able to fall back on Andrew’s mortgage, a lot of funding has come from existing stores, with a large portion of the profits being ploughed back in to the business. Opening new stores has been a milestone for the brothers; this is despite having to close two stores in auditing firms Ernst & Young and KPMG, mainly because there was an insufficient demand. The Daily Buzz has since introduced a food line, which generates good revenue for the business. On its menu are croissants, pastries, salads, sandwiches and wraps, which are prepared at is central kitchen. The brothers are happy with the growth of the start-up, but they are not interested in franchising the business for now, saying it’s imperative that they keep control of the quality of their coffee. “The business is going through organic growth. It hasn’t been a case of going out there, opening up five stores and selling our franchises, making a quick buck,” says Chris. They’re looking to purchase a coffee roaster from Portugal so customers can enjoy an increased quality and taste that comes with freshly ground coffee.

Buhle Ndweni
Finweek: 21 February 2013 

The brothers, Chris and Andrew Brown mentioned in Finweek magazine.