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What difficulties did he face setting up the coffee shop?
- It was hard to get the permissions.
- It was hard to find the right location.
- It was hard to go through some formalities.
Interviewer: Lauri Pipinen, the 2011 Finnish Barista Champion, opened his own coffee shop recently and today he’s here to answer questions about his business. Congratulations on opening your own coffee bar. When did you first start dreaming of your own shop? How long did the whole process take from start to finish?
Lauri Pipinen: First I began thinking of opening a restaurant. That was about five years ago when I was studying hospitality management. A few years later I became interested in and coffee started working as a barista. Two or three years ago, learning more and more about coffee, I started thinking of setting up a coffee shop or a café. During the last few years, when visiting cafes around the world, I’ve been gathering ideas and watching for details — cups, menus, lights and atmosphere and so on. About a year ago I made the decision to start looking for a space and learning about all the permissions that might be needed.
Interviewer: Tell us about some things that were easier than you thought while setting up Good Life Coffee. Also, where did you face more difficulties than you had expected?
Lauri Pipinen: Setting up the company, getting the permissions and other formalities were easier and quicker than I had thought. Talking about hardships, finding the right space turned out to be much more difficult than I had anticipated. After a promising start, many landlords almost rang up as soon as I mentioned “café” or “coffee”. They probably were afraid that the café could eventually turn into a pizzeria or bar although that wouldn’t be possible with the right contract. Also, the difference between a quality-focused coffee bar and a typical “café” isn’t clear to everyone.
Interviewer: You hired an employee to help you out. Was it difficult finding the right person?
Lauri Pipinen: There were dozens of people applying so it was quite difficult to pick the right one among them. But I wanted someone who didn’t have previous experience in the coffee industry. I think it’s somehow easier to educate them to your style of doing things. And it’s also hard to find a barista that has some experience in Finland.
Interviewer: As the name says, your focus above all else is coffee. What kind of coffees are you planning to serve? Are there going to be several roasters in the selection?
Lauri Pipinen: I want to serve unusual coffees, off the mainstream. Personally I enjoy lightly roasted, fresh crop coffees where you can taste the natural flavour of the coffee. I also think that serving natural processed coffees to customers opens their eyes that coffee can be something else, as they are usually very fruity, smooth and sweet. However, personally I’m a little bit over this particular style of coffee. I want to use coffees that I personally enjoy.
Interviewer: What’s your approach to serve coffee? How is it served at Good Life Coffee?
Lauri Pipinen: I’m a big fan of black coffee. It’s well balanced, more consistent than espresso and just delicious. Nobody has complained of it by cup taking too long.
Interviewer: How would you like Good Life Coffee to differentiate itself from other quality focused coffee bars in Helsinki?
Lauri Pipinen: The atmosphere is stylish and well thought but still relaxed. I want to challenge my customers a bit — for example the black coffee menu with two choices and their descriptions forces them to choose and also think their preferences — light and acidic or fruity and full bodied?
Interviewer: Which coffee bars and cafes inspire you?
Lauri Pipinen: I really like the feeling and atmosphere at Drop Coffee in Stockholm. Those guys have a relaxed take on things but do it on a stylish way — and the coffee is good too!
Interviewer: Finally, what is the background of Good Life Coffee’s name?
Lauri Pipinen: There was a place called the Good Life Cafe in Los Angeles in the early 1990’s. It was a place for people to gather for a certain thing, and there it was music. At Good Life Coffee it’s Coffee. The name is a kind of tribute to the original Good Life Cafe.