The UK’s Best Coffee Carts
The infamous coffee cart – a simple solution to finding your much-needed daily dose of…
This week we spoke with Antony from KRA:FT Koffee in Wakefield. Having only had a 20 minute chat with Antony, you get a full sense of how passionate he is about speciality coffee, and making sure his and his wife, Lisa’s business was not like rest and really set the bar high in the area. With mixing juggling a cafe, barbers and tattoo parlour in the one location, these two really have put Wakefield on the map.
Basically, Lisa, my wife, was a police officer for over 12 years, she then left the force and wanted to retrain. She took a completely new direction and decided to train as a barber. We then decided to buy a shop and we bought this current property in Wakefield, we opened as a barber then built around the shop. There was no speciality coffee in Wakefield, so we decided to open a coffee shop as well, as part of it. We initially opened 2 years ago as a pop-up to test the market during Covid, we did a refit around a year ago, as a coffee shop and bar in the evening.
We did high-end cocktail experiences based around espresso martini’s, obviously coffee is king here! We use North Star Coffee Roasters and use the same coffee in them as we did in our regular coffees.
It actually hit the ground running, what we found with Covid is that people really didn’t have much to do, and to provide a new spot where people could go, really worked. We found we provided something that people wanted in Wakefield, there just wasn’t anywhere with specialty coffee beforehand.
I think it’s becoming more and more accessible, certainly Wakefield is starting to have more of a coffee scene now. I think people are starting to want to pull away from the main chains a little bit more, supporting local and more independent coffee shops – you know, the ones that are really doing it properly.
Ever since we’ve opened we’ve never tried to pigeonhole ourselves saying ‘these are the customers we want’, we’ve always been open to everybody and anybody. We get 16 year olds coming through the door, and we get 70 year olds through the door, so for me I think we’re winning in that sense as nobody feels excluded.
What we wanted to do was create a hub, where people could go, hangout, get their haircut, grab a coffee before or after – or even have an alcoholic beverage in the evening as well. We also have tattoo artists upstairs in the building as well, it’s nice that those clients get to use the facilities as well.
The opening was actually fine, the challenge is when you’re running multiple places is the staffing. At the moment in hospitality finding the quality in staff is a struggle, I think when Covid came and places were closing and staff were being put onto furlough, sadly a lot of people weren’t coming back to hospitality, there were some very very good baristas that haven’t come back and haven’t been replaced, there is a definitely shortfall of that at the moment.
Another thing, I’m not a cocktail barman and I’m not a barista – this was born on the love of coffee. So if we are short staffed I can’t really jump in there and take the helm.
So we’ve used Indeed, which has been difficult. It can be a bit hit and miss, we’ve used social channels as well. Apart from that, within this industry there is a large community, which means you kind of get this revolving door of staff and people who know each other. The other thing is, people don’t normally stay in hospitality forever, it’s a transient business.
I did a lot of research and visited a lot of coffee shops before we started KRA:FT, we certainly wanted to be at the top of the market, in terms of look, feel and quality – we felt this was missing in Wakefield. Rather than be generic and be ANOTHER coffee shop, that’s what we tried to do – we’re a high-end coffee shop, and that comes with top service and top coffee.
I think the overall quality is one of the most important things, whether that’s the quality of the staff, the products or the aesthetics. We chose North Star coffee roasters because of the quality of the beans we’re getting. I know they look after the farmers and I know they’re getting paid a fair wage – that’s really important to us. However, I do know we could have the best beans on the planet, but if we haven’t got the quality of the baristas behind the bar then instantly that hard work that’s been done can be quickly ruined. So here, everything is weighed, all the doses are checked, we have a Modbar which fits with the aesthetic as well. Consistency is what I’m getting at here. We want consistency from point A to point B- A being the beans, and B being the customer.
We believe you always need to be evolving, you always need to keep one step ahead of yourself and your competitors, because otherwise you become stagnant and stale and people get bored and will go elsewhere.
We do coffee events, we’ve done two latte art competitions that were sponsored by Oatly which were great – we wanted to do it blind so there was no cheating and we actually managed to win both of them. We did them blind so no one can say it was a fix!
I must say my heart is with North Star, their consistency is amazing. I must also say they helped us right from the very start. Lisa, my wife, bought me a home barista course with North Star, and that’s how it all started really. The help we’ve had, even before we opened, has been incredible. My favorite definitely has to be the Brazil and my favorite coffee would have to be a Cortado, just enough milk for it to nicely come through!
Follow KRA:FT Koffee on Instagram HERE
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