Is this a franchise?

Is this a franchise?

I can pinpoint the exact moment that First Things First Coffee came into inception. It was October of 2013 and I was living in Geelong, Victoria where I’d just become freshly unemployed! I had studied at uni for 4 years to complete my Bachelor of Occupational Therapy and pretty soon I had realised the industry just wasn’t for me. At the age of 23 I felt like the path I had mapped out for myself had gone awry! All of a sudden I found myself reassessing what I was passionate about in life. I knew one thing; that for a very long time I had loved coffee! In fact it was probably the one thing that got me through my degree! I’d even had some experience making it. My girlfriend (now fiancé!) Hana, had spent most of her adult life in the coffee industry and she already had a wealth of knowledge on her side. A drive-through specialty coffee shop was an idea that we’d thrown around.  We thought that just maybe, with a lot of hard work and a lot of learning we might be able to pull something off.

Back to that day in October.

My phone rang. On the other end was Aaron Box. Boxy and I went to school together where to be honest, we never really hung out! It was after high school, through some mutual friends that we connected and became pretty tight. Boxy had just finished a contract working in a mine. He was/is a qualified fitter and turner and had worked on some major mining and refinery projects.  Little did I know it but he was starting to feel the same way about his profession as I was about mine; starting to get the sense that he wasn’t in the right place.

He asked what my plan was now that I was officially unemployed! I told him that the realist in me was telling me to go back to uni and get my diploma of education and become a teacher like my parents… but what I really wanted to do was open a drive through coffee shop! What he said next lit the spark that would soon ignite a great partnership: “Get out” he said, “that’s what I want to do!”.

Boxy, Hana and I pulled our knowledge and our resources and got to planning. Where should we try and set up?  What should we call ourselves? How do you even run a business?! When you’re trying to get a business up and running at 23 years old and your surname isn’t Rinehart, one of the biggest questions you ask yourself is “how are we going to afford this?”! The answer?…“We’ll build it ourselves”!

For 6 months Boxy was not ‘head barista’ or ‘company director’; he was ‘site supervisor’! Hana and I learnt to drill, grind, cut and concrete and during the space of the construction period we went from useless, to slightly less useless! The construction was a hell of a lot of fun but we worked hard! We worked just about all day, every day.

The most memorable day of construction for me, was the day we received our shipping containers; which would later form the building that we work out of every day. I managed to convince my parents to let us modify the containers in the front yard of our family home in Ocean Grove, Victoria! There they sat for 10 weeks while we slowly cut, grinded and welded away, attracting the curious gaze of confused neighbours! More than 3 years on and the grass underneath where the containers sat still hasn’t grown back…

After a solid 6 months labouring away on site, we were ready. Ready to do what we’d set out to do 2 years prior: to serve Adelaide coffee!

Like everyone who has ever owned a small business, the early days were tough. We worked ourselves to the bone. It was the opposite of glamorous. We were each working 95 hour weeks to make sure that our dream stayed alive and viable. We were getting home ridiculously late and starting ridiculously early; so in order to get some rest Boxy and I would take turns napping in the office.

Slowly, as our drive- through became busier and busier and the coffee lovers of Adelaide began to stumble upon our humble shipping container store on Main North Road, we began to realise that maybe we were here to stay!

I’m super proud of our beginnings as a business. When people ask if this place is part of a big franchise, or an offshoot of some mega coffee corporation, I beam with pride as I tell them that it isn’t. We’ve achieved what we’ve achieved without mega investors or a head office telling us what to do. We’ve worked our butts off to ensure that Adelaide coffee drinkers are getting the best the industry has to offer and we feel confident that we are now firmly embedded in the Adelaide coffee scene. On behalf of Boxy, Hana and myself, I want to thank you; our customer, for supporting the dream that three kids had back in 2013. It’s because of you that we’re able to wake up every morning and continue the pursuit of making the best coffee in Adelaide.

-James Carrigg: Co-owner of FTFC

Convenience Isn’t Sexy

Convenience Isn’t Sexy

A question that we get all the time at First Things First Coffee is, ‘how the hell do you guys make my coffee so quick?’   Our response to this question is simple… ‘If we told you we’d have to kill you’! If you’re reading with the intention of scoring some top-secrets trade secrets, you’re not about to get them here either… Sorry!

What you will find if you look through every piece of marketing that we’ve ever put out is that we don’t talk about our speed of service… or the convenience of our service. This is for the plain and simple reason that ‘CONVENIENCE ISN’T SEXY’! Specialty coffee is sexy… Delicious food is sexy…  Modern container architecture is sexy… but convenience is not sexy!

We often talk in-house about how we are a ‘specialty coffee shop’ first and a ‘drive through coffee shop’ second. As a team at First Things First Coffee we are not driven to make the quickest coffee in Adelaide, nor the most convenient coffee in Adelaide. What gets us out of bed at a stupid hour of the day every morning is the pursuit of making the best coffee in Adelaide. This is why we’ve teamed up with award winning roaster Code Black Coffee Roasters. It’s why we’re so scientific about our coffee making procedures. It’s why our staff undergo some of the most thorough training in the industry. Sure, our processes, along with the fact that we are a ‘drive-through’ make us very quick and very convenient, but we don’t need to bang on about them! Our passion, and indeed the foundation of our business is and will always be coffee.

Interestingly, the fact that we are a drive-through has been known to actually deter some coffee connoisseurs. The notion being that anything ‘drive-through’ has historically been cheap and nasty.  As a matter of fact we now have many specialty coffee loving regulars that happily admit that they “originally didn’t want to try us out because, well, the whole drive-through thing!”

This mindset that ‘drive-through is cheap, nasty, fatty, greasy and generally mediocre’ is something that we are fighting to change.

Over recent years Adelaide’s coffee scene has undergone some wonderful and exciting growth; meaning that good quality specialty coffee is more accessible to the public than ever. An array of awesome coffee hotspots have popped up all over the city and in the surrounding suburbs, being run by passionate baristas who truly know their craft. We are excited to be a part of this new wave of Adelaide cafes bringing specialty coffee to the masses. We’ve just chosen to do it in a slightly non-traditional format; one that will better fit the modern, time-poor person’s lifestyle.

Are we proud of the fact that we offer convenience? Definitely! Are we proud of the fact that we’re known for our speed? Of course! Is being fast and convenient what drives us as a business? Not really!.. The truth is that making bloody good espresso coffee is what lights our spark. This has and always will be the case. It’s our aim to change people’s mindsets around what ‘drive-through’ looks, feels and tastes like.  So the next time you’re in the neighbourhood, we want to make you a coffee… because that is quite simply what we love to do.