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In January 2009 York Coffee Emporium was born, York's first high street boutique roaster

Sadie Hopkins likes nothing better than lounging around in coffee shops while enjoying a great cup of coffee. EC discovers how her passion for the bean has led her to become a respected roaster and business consultant

Always a huge fan of coffee, Sadie Hopkins spent her teenage years hanging out in cafés and coffee shops rather than the pub - where, let's be honest, you'd find most teens! "It was my aim to own a little coffee shop of my own, where I could create an environment for people to meet and enjoy great coffee," she says. Sadie started up her first coffee house and gelateria -

La Cremeria - in York at the age of 24, then went on to open her retail shop and coffee roasting business, York Coffee Emporium, in 2009. She supplies a number of well known hotels, cafés and restaurants in York with her coffee - all freshly roasted and uniquely blended for each customer - and has recently set up a consultancy, Slave to the Grind, to help others looking at starting businesses in the coffee market.

36 Essential Café

We asked Sadie to share a little of her knowledge and

hard-earned wisdom with the readers of EC. For example, what should an independent coffee shop do to compete with the branded chains?

"Be excellent!" she says unhesitatingly. "It's hard for the independent on the high street, and the best way to stand out is to do what you do brilliantly.

"Define yourself too, in the same way as the chains do. Independents often strive to do too much - some try to do breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner menus and the overall product can suffer. Pick what you want to focus on, and do that well. Ensure your staff are fully trained and knowledgeable, and above all, provide a personal touch that the chains cannot. Remember your regular customers' names, their orders, and they will in turn be loyal to you."


For an independent that's currently struggling, what would be Sadie's 'top tips' for turning things round? "Identify where you are struggling," she says. "Is it with getting customers through the door? Is it the profit margin of your menu? Is there a certain time of day you are not attracting customers? Often, independents cannot get themselves out of a downward spiral because they do not step back and look objectively at their business and its finances. Although this is a scary process, it must be done to help you climb back up. Try to learn to identify potential problems before they occur. Business owners frequently don't pay enough attention to their finances, but doing this can pre-empt any major cash flow crises.

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