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    • I think for us, Australian coffee culture is around espresso coffee, because we’re a land of immigrants. Pre and post WWII there was a huge amount of migration from Western Europe - Italy, Greece, Malta, and they brought their espresso heritage, and that injected coffee into the Australian scene. Australia as part of the Commonwealth had a very big tea culture, and with Italians arriving with their espresso machines, drip coffee wasn’t a part of the landscape.

      So for us, most of the innovation is on the espresso side, with a movement towards flat whites, it originated from New Zealand and Australia, and the fact that it’s now recognized by Starbucks and added to the core menu, that’s a testament to the Australian and New Zealand coffee culture.

      Our coffee needs to be premium, it needs to taste fantastic, so we spend a lot of time sourcing incredible quality arabica coffee. The quality of machines has to be very premium, we are sourcing from Italian manufacturers, European manufacturers. And a lot of skill goes into making coffee consistently, especially with 3-4 kinds of milk, it’s not like opening a bottle of beer. That’s a core part of being a cafe in Australia.

      So I think that’s the biggest one, premium espresso. It’s not made by an automatic machine, the barista has to be skillful and talented, it’s not just pressing a button. It’s a true, respected profession in Australia. I’d love for us to be a part of the movement in educating people on how talented and dedicated premium baristas are. It’s a lot more complicated than people appreciate. 

    • Well, I think people. Our team. The most important thing about building a brand is leading with experience. If you provide a wonderful experience, one that’s premium and magical, then people will tell their friends, and the best way to market is word of mouth. And with us, that’s how we built the brand. We had a really clear vision of what we stood for, the purpose, and we got inspired by Australian coffee culture, primarily Melbourne where I’m from, and our teams in the field are the face of the brand, the service we provide really reinforces the concept.

      I think you can spend a lot of money on different things, but if it’s inauthentic, it doesn’t represent what you’re about. For us, it’s about providing premium quality coffee and tea, curated bespoke environments, and this notion of not being a customer but rather an intrinsic connection with a local. And if you do that right, people start talking about you. And if you create things that are aesthetically pleasing, people will use those photographs on social media, which is natural amplification we’ve benefitted from. 

    • I think you just gotta respect the lines. It’s not easy, because when you’re really passionate about something, you can vent and be more direct with family, because you’ve got that implicit love and care for each other that makes you feel like you can be more direct. And you’ve been through a lot with family that you can deal with it, but it was obviously a huge concept with a lot of people and with my parents when Andy was about to move across. But I knew Andy was the best for the job, and he’s so incredibly important as the custodian of the brand, the face of the organization and the culture.

      We’ve played different roles - he’s been very respectful of the ways I want to push the business, and I’ve been probably not been as respectful, but certainly considerate of Andy’s experience in marketing, brand-building, partnerships, understanding how they should develop organically and grow. It’s been really terrific, worked really well. And the other thing that’s very different - Alexandra and I have very different skillsets and backgrounds. We didn’t get the same classes at university, but we’ve brought them together to create Bluestone. And I don’t think the company would be nearly as strong without all of us bringing together our different backgrounds. I’m proud of the job we’ve done with listening to each other, being respectful of each other’s backgrounds and points of view.

    • There’s couple of things. First of all, the product needs to be really good, every single time. The coffee, tea, the food offerings, all need to be made to order and fresh. Secondly, the service proposition - you need to have a team dedicated to providing fantastic service. That’s the hardest thing to do at scale, but you need to invest in relationships, in knowing the locals. And thirdly, creating beautiful spaces where people feel there’s an element where they can disconnect, where they can go socialize with someone.

      I think a lot of businesses get 2 out of 3 right, or 1 out of 3 right, but to do all 3 right at scale, we call it “boutique at scale,” very few companies have achieved that in hospitality, let alone in the cafe world, where you can say “The product is amazing, the people are incredible, the space feels unique and like an escape.” We certainly haven’t perfected it, but that’s our mandate every day, along with our core tenets and values. 

    • I think it’s sort of like the horse and cart equation. You don’t get access to capital unless you’re committed to a certain agenda, in our case, boutique at scale. I was very clear on what we were signing up for when we brought in investors. And we’ve so fortunate in that our investor is so focused on building the brand, and that they want measured growth. There’s always pressure when you have any investor - whether it’s your parents or a firm - you want to do your best, and not lose anyone’s money. But I feel the same amount of pressure from the first investor to now.

      For us, we already knew the growth was coming, and we’re in a number of markets, with more staff, but with the investment, there came the opportunity to bring onboard more talent we’d never have had access to, and for me that’s incredible - I can learn from specialists in their fields. And rather than a few people doing everything, you can bring in true specialists, who can help make the business run better, provide better experiences for our locals, and help us build a successful company. 

    • I think it’s review sites, which are terrific for growing brand awareness, but they are also challenging because they are asymmetrical. Someone can review our business, but we can’t review the customer. So sometimes when it’s asymmetrical, there is no accountability, you can hide behind a digital veil without recompense, that can be frustrating, because sometimes people can have a bias, writing about something that hasn’t gone perfectly versus something that’s been really really great. We did this research within our own team, asking who does reviews, and we asked whether people reviewed positively or negatively, and we found that people were more likely to write a negative thing than a positive one. And that means you’re constantly being evaluated every day, with a bent towards writing about something that hasn’t satisfied, versus something that’s fantastic.

    • Best way is, without a doubt, via our website.

      And our instagram.

      And for me personally via my LinkedIn - I probably post at least once a week, twice a week. And then downloading our app, which you can find in the App Store, we’re always producing different specials and alerts and loyalty programs. Signing up for our email, we probably send it once or twice a week with new store openings, new products, today we’re announcing something absolutely massive for Earth Day - today if you bring in a reusable cup, any beverage is a dollar, and going forward it’s a 25 cent discount on any beverage, so that’s our real commitment to being more sustainable, thinking about your impact on the planet.

      And we’re hopeful this is a real incentive to people bringing their own cup. And if you get a reusable Bluestone Lane cup whenever, you get the first drink of choice on the house, 25 cents off going forward. It’s a big part of healthy minds, healthy bodies, healthy communities. So those would be the best ways to hear more about what we’re doing, where we’re opening, and what we’re trying to achieve.