Artisan Roast started its operation in November 2010 as a startup project by a couple, Michael and Amirah on their return to Malaysia. The first outlet opened in Yayasan Selangor for 12 months and they decided to move to a more populated area. Just when they were checking out their neighbourhood in TTDI, they found a vacant shop lot where their current HQ is located.
Artisan Roast was an established café in Scotland, where the couple met during their university times. To be closer to their family in Malaysia and New Zealand, the couple decided to move back to Malaysia. Artisan Roast was the brain child of Michael, it made sense to do the same thing here where the market was young but potential high.
Artisan Roast TTDI blossomed since it started. It was the right choice as they brought artisan coffee to the already interested market for something different from the commercial brands closer to the target market.
The bald move however, wasn’t easy. The first outlet in Yayasan was only making enough to cover the cost and hire one staff. Moving means the need of more capital in the lease for the space, renovation and a survival budget. For the last item, Artisan Roast budgeted for a 2 year future expense to make sure the café lives.
The first hurdle of moving the outlet is to win a lease from the landlord at the TTDI location. Setting up a solid proposal of their business and laying out a long term plan, Artisan Roast beat over 20 other interested tenants for the unit and the renovation work began. It took them a full 6 weeks of non-stop working for 20 hours a day to get the café running from where they have shut the previous outlet in Yayasan. To make sure smooth operation and timely training for new staff to look after the new place, work was round the clock. There was no rest after the opening, it was just the beginning of a battle to win over demanding customers and keep ahead of the game.
Artisan Roast is one of the longest apparent success case for artisan coffee in Malaysia that started since the beginning of specialty café trend here. Many factors are combined in making the success.
See past the obstacles
Look at an issue as a puzzle to solve and not as a problem. One of the example was how they have introduced their signature blend of coffee beans into the market. At the beginning, customers are questioning about the taste – why is it so sour (acidic)? Over time, those who adapt to the taste stay and those who are still perceptive towards their belief in commercial brand and less open minded, left. Some, converted and became more adventurous. Today, Artisan Roast still serves the same blend of beans that marks the signature of their cups. Consistency is what they believe in. they also believe in sourcing the highest quality beans and to introduce them to the local market.
Follow your gut feeling
One’s instinct for a business startup is usually a life saver, if not a major one. It might save you a lot of trouble in the future if your gut tells you something is not right about a decision. Experience comes from mistakes. Make a mistake, learn from it and move on. Dwelling on a situation you cannot change will only deter you from growth.
Recently, Artisan Roast is expanding on the green beans sourcing and roasting side of the trade. They have even gone as far as travelling through Brazil and Sumatra to find the best beans and then importing full containers from the original locations.
Realistically, Artisan Roast will not be able to use a full container of beans in their outlets in KL within 6 months (the time frame of how long you can store green beans and call them fresh). They have a different idea, distribute them through other cafes and not just their own. This way, they can share their beans with others. You can see some of the cafes they supply on their website.
Did we mention that Artisan Roast have other outlets? After the success of the one in TTDI, Artisan Roast opened Three Little Birds in Sentul and Desa Park City and is in a partnership opening the London Sandwich Company shops, the first of which is in KLCC.
Paint work done on the original shop
The making of the arch
Carving the bar
Smoothing out the edges
The wall is up
Modelling for the bench