Hi my name is Leo and I own kaf coffee! We started off on Hyndland Street in the west end almost 6 years ago as a small brunch cafe with a focus on delicious speciality coffee. Due to the pandemic we had to stop our sit in brunch offering and started operating as a bakery providing sourdough breads, pastries and cakes, this worked really well for us and we opened our second shop during that time in Bearsden where I've grown up.
I think naturally being a bit of a control freak meant i wanted to control the entire environment that I worked in. I absolutely love making my own decisions in the workplace and it’s a much more natural workflow for me.
My advice to anyone thinking of becoming their own boss would be to learn as much as possible about your chosen industry before making that move. When I first wanted to set up Kaf I knew I wanted to have a speciality coffee offering so I delayed my plans and spent a year working for an amazing coffee shop in Edinburgh to learn about it properly. That was really important to my business model. I would also say to try your best to be original!
How was life in lockdown for you and how did you adapt during this time?
It was definitely really stressful and felt like a constant game of pivoting. We had very different plans for our future that were in progress when the pandemic hit and we had to adapt really quickly and think about how we could do business during that time. We jumped straight in with a sourdough schedule and learnt how to make croissants, this wasn’t easy at all as both products are very difficult to make properly but I'm really proud of how far we’ve come. At the beginning of the pandemic we offered a click + collect service from our bakery which was a great way to bring some positivity to everyone’s lives at the time.
What trends are you most excited about in your industry at the moment?
I think unfortunately the hospitality industry faces a lot of challenges right now so that seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. I think people in the industry always find ways to survive but we are going to see a lot of businesses face tough decisions. So support local where you can — it’s more important than ever.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
At the moment it starts around 6am, I'll head to our bakery to check in on the morning bakes and decide how to split the products between both of our shops for our driver Aaron. I'll then head for the Bearsden shop next and turn on our coffee machine and get set up for the day. I'll spend time dialling in our coffee (tasting different recipes) until it’s ready. Aaron will arrive after delivering to our west end shop and we’ll quickly unload before opening. I'll update our stock numbers online and make sure our click + collect websites are sorted and correct. I'll spend the day serving customers and chatting whilst communicating with our bakery about their workload. I'll spend far too long cleaning up as i’m a bit of a perfectionist then i’ll run home to take the dog for a walk! In the evenings I'll catch up on admin whilst watching tv.
How do you structure work / life / play? Do you find it easy to switch off and if so how?
I really struggle with this actually, I’m constantly distracted by work and I am generally always thinking about it! I am trying to get better now as the last few years have been such an intense workload I’m conscious it’s not sustainable. I have my first holiday post-covid coming up! I’m naturally a bit of a home person so being cosy in front of the telly is my idea of play anyway haha!
Please share some of your favourite books, blogs, Instagram accounts.
The pastry chef guide by Ravneet Gill is an essential in anyone’s cookbook collection for everything baking. I also own every cookbook by Ottolenghi as they’re all wonderful. Our friend's shop in Manchester have the best instagram account ever, they are also the most incredibly imaginative + creative people (@siopshop)
Chocolate cake!!!! Add cream and you’ve got the most delicious and comforting cake, you do have to be a chocolate fan of course…I'm often guilty of baking too many chocolatey options!
How can people find you?
We are most active on instagram and our handles are @kafcoffee (our original shop which we just refer to as kaf amongst ourselves) and @kafgoods (our bearsden shop - goods, which we’re enjoying so much, especially me as I can now walk to work!)
We also have click + collect websites which are updated daily on the days which we are open, a great way to see what’s available and also order online.
FIND KAF at 15 New Kirk Road Bearsden