16/11/2011 - 10:14

Boutique coffee & the perfect blend

16/11/2011 - 10:14

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Dian Aristia wanted a job with plenty of human interaction ... and found it with her sister at Infusion Coffee & Tea. Catie Low reports.

INFUSED WITH ENTHUSIASM: Sisters Dian Aristia (left) and Amelia Triwardani refer to their Plaza Arcade coffee house Infusion Coffee & Tea as a 'coffee boutique'. Photo: Grant Currall

Dian Aristia wanted a job with plenty of human interaction ... and found it with her sister at Infusion Coffee & Tea. Catie Low reports.

DIAN Aristia was stuck behind a desk swamped by paperwork when she decided to buy the 12-year-old Infusion Coffee & Tea business with her sister, Amelia Triwardani.

An accountant by training, Ms Aristia had grown tired of the company of numbers, and despite her reserved nature found herself drawn to a career that would involve more human interaction.

And what better introduction to the full gamut of human frailties than serving city workers their restorative morning coffee?

It was a challenge Ms Aristia and Ms Triwardani tackled with nothing more than a short baristas course behind them and some memories of how their parents once ran a jewellery shop in Indonesia.

Looking back, Ms Aristia laughs at how much they learned in those first few months; but they were obviously good students because this bolt-hole of a coffee shop is churning through more than 60 kilograms of coffee beans a week and the business just keeps on growing.

While many city retailers are bemoaning the downturn in spending, Ms Aristia and her sister are quietly working on their dreams of opening a second store and franchising the business.

Ms Triwardani combines her work at Infusion with a jazz singing career and her enthusiasm for the business mirrors her sister’s energy.

The sisters refer to Infusion as a ‘coffee boutique’ and encourage their customers to mix and match their own blend or try one of their popular flavoured blends.

“The nature of our shop is different to other coffee shops in that we have all sorts of beans and customers can choose; they don’t have to pay extra and we grind it straight away,” Ms Aristia says.

“We do corporate orders as well and we have been supplying beans for a few offices and it’s an area we would like to expand.”

The sisters quickly realised that fostering a loyal patronage in the crowded city coffee market was as much about efficiency as it was the perfect blend.

So to speed up the transaction time they offered regular customers a pre-paid card that took the cash out of the equation and ensured repeat business.

It was a matter of making their coffee part of someone’s daily routine, Ms Aristia explains.

“Once you are embedded in a morning or afternoon ritual you find customers will come back to you day after day,” she told Gusto.

Ms Aristia was first exposed to Australia’s strong coffee culture when she travelled here to study at university.

“We saw that people drank a lot of coffee here, it’s seen as a necessity,” Ms Aristia says.

“We have our customers that come back two, three times a day and it’s very important for them.”

Infusion’s singular focus on coffee sets the business apart from many of its city competitors and ensures all the energy is channelled into blending and making the perfect coffee and tea, rather than worrying about food.

The only snacks on offer are a selection of cookies. It’s coffee that is the star turn at Infusion, and the aroma that wafts from the bank of fresh beans stops more than a few shoppers in their tracks.

The sale of beans gives customers the chance to take their favourite blend back home or to the office.

“We have a wide variety of coffee beans and from these we have created our own well-known infusion blends like the Brothers blend and the Brazil royale,” Ms Aristia says.

“The Brothers blend is a popular choice among CBD workers and weekend shoppers  … and Brazil royale has its own fan following with its mix of Brazil, blue mountain and mocha beans.”

Infusion is hopeful it can add the exotic civet coffee beans to its menu in the near future.

The flavoured beans, including kahlua, tiramisu and butterscotch toffee are a hit with younger coffee lovers, who Ms Aristia says are more adventurous and savoured the subtle aftertaste the flavourings gave the coffee.

Finding the perfect blend for every palette continues to energise the sisters and the pleasure of getting to know regular customers has helped them stare down unexpected challenges like finding suitable, reliable staff.

The sisters currently share the long hours, and juggle the early starts with family commitments and singing gigs.

It’s hard work but at least they know their loyal coffee addicts are getting the best service and their favourite blend every time.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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