Coffee to go a future trend for Prague?
Cup ‘o joe to go? Hard to find around here, unless you count McDonald’s and most discerning coffee drinkers don’t. Coffee Heaven, which opened in Prague about a year and a half ago is striving to fill the gap for the on the run caffeine consumer.
“We are trying to bring the coffee culture of Central Europe together with the Western style of drinking coffee,” says Nikolaos Balamotis, International Development Director for Coffee Heaven. “We focus on the details and the atmosphere in the stores, not a fast food atmosphere.”
Coffee Heaven opened its first store in Poland five years ago, and now has 35 locations there. They have four in Prague and one in Brno.
“In Poland, you couldn’t get a decent cup of coffee,” says Balamotis. “In Prague, you couldn’t get a cup of coffee how you want it, skim milk, syrups.”
Coffee Heaven is focused on the quality of their beans, as well as how the coffee is brewed. “Customers focused on coffee will realize there is something different,” promises Balamotis.
But what about the paper cups? Is Prague ready for such a radical change to its coffee habit?
“Paper cups are becoming part of a fashion lifestyle,” says Balamotis. “It’s the way you live, an image, it’s trendy.”
And there’s another reason, for those less focused on their image and more concerned with cleanliness.
“People appreciate the hygiene aspect, no one else has drank from their cup,” says Balamotis.
But even though customers have the option of getting their cup to go, most don’t.
“Only 10-20% of our business is takeaway, depending on the location,” says Balamotis.
But Balamotis believes the quality and options are what makes Coffee Heaven unique, more than the to-go factor.
“It’s the maximum empowerment of the customer,” he says. “They are in charge. Make it warmer, give me more milk. We want customers to make it their own place.”
Balamotis says there are other stores like Coffee Heaven in Prague offering paper cups to go, but supply porcelain for those wanting to stay in. “I expect more stores like ours will enter the market, but I don’t believe they will be the same,” he says.
But it all comes down to one important item: “You have the freedom to stay or go,” says Balamotis.
And nothing says freedom like a jolt of java to go.