WITH its aromatic roasted coffee, wide range of blends and varied menu, the WA-based Dome café chain is fast becoming a favourite destination for coffee lovers worldwide.

Since opening the first Dome in Cottesloe in 1990, Phillip May and Patria Jaffries have taken their product overseas, building an empire of 54 cafes worth an estimated $80 million.

The pair has set up Dome franchises in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates, as well as expanding their stake in the local and national markets.

Europe is next on the hit list, with planning for a Dome café franchise in Ireland already under consideration.

Mr May, who is Dome’s international business director, said when expansion plans were first raised, international franchises were a much better option than those interstate because of the Australian economic climate.

“We opened a café in Singapore in 1993, which had a very immature coffee market back then,” Mr May said.

“I think the reason we chose Singapore was, if you remember back to 1992/1993, Australia was in the middle of a bad recession and there was not a lot happening on the eastern seaboard.

“It was just the logical step for us, we didn’t even consider the eastern seaboard, it was not a difficult decision to make.”

In was two years later, in 1995, that Dome cafes sprung up in the eastern states, at the same time Malaysian coffee drinkers were getting their first taste of Dome.

And while the success of the international franchises is undeniable, it did not come without a lot of hard work and investment.

“It can be very hard to expand internationally and it is expensive. Usually it takes about two years before we start to get anything back from the franchise royalties,” Mr May said.

“There are different cultural and legal issues in every country which can make it tough to set up a franchise — the toughest from a legal point of view would have been the ones in the UAE.”