With the smell of fresh paint still lingering in the air the night before we were about to launch, there we were busy writing up the coffee menu with the help of our flat mates – and nervously anticipating our very first day of trading!
We believed we had everything covered – we had hired two Baristas who we thought had a like-minded love for great tasting coffee and both of whom seemed to appreciate what we were trying to do for the South West London Coffee scene. At 6.55am on October 31st 2011, someone banged on the window and asked if we were open – this was it, the first ever transaction. As far as I remember, the guy ordered a cappuccino takeaway and instead of satisfaction, I remember feeling a huge wave of anti-climax as he just grabbed the drink and headed off in the direction of Putney station. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but somehow his brief thanks didn’t seem adequate for the months of sleepless nights and the intensity of fitting out a shop in 2 weeks.
The day had started though and it went really well. Nearby shop owners came and introduced themselves and we passed 60 transactions through the till. One thing we got very wrong was estimating the baguettes we had planned to make – not wanting to get caught out and being quite sleep deprived, we had ordered 60 baguettes. As it turned out, this was 58 too many as we only sold 2 sandwiches all day! We also slowly become less scared of the till we had bought off e-bay, as customers smiled sympathetic whilst we desperately looked for buttons.
After an exhausting day we headed home pleased that every coffee we had served seemed to have gone well. At this stage, all we cared about was each coffee being amazing and thought that if we got that right, the rest would work itself out. At 11:20pm, we were heading to bed when Magda thought she would check her e-mails one last time. There it was, just one email, a couple of sentences along the lines of: “Sorry, unfortunately I will not be working at Artisan any longer… I have found other work” – talk about seriously leaving us in it, we were opening for only our second ever day in 7 hours and had no barista. Magda however stepped up amazingly and although she was nervous as she sets such high standards, she filled in until the ever reliable and amazing barista Cara came in to help out. From that day, we learnt that Magda was going to have to become not only a good barista but a great one for Artisan to succeed, and to this day she is still learning the trade in every way she can.
In the next blog I’ll talk about Artisan’s first baby steps and our first experiences in dealing with customers.