Knight’s Coffee & Tea makes a big promise with their slogan, ‘Sublime Every Time’.
But headed up by major coffee fanatic and long-time hospitality industry worker Jake Knight, we think they might just be in with a chance.
He came prepared: Jake made his first coffee way back in high school, when he worked as a barista after class. He continued on working in cafes after graduation to save for his first overseas trip, and stuck with hospitality as he travelled through the UK and more. Upon his return, he began his three years of business school – but even still, Jake was making coffees.
Working for two of Australia’s biggest coffee suppliers – Toby Estate, and Campos – Jake cut his teeth learning about not just the tastes, but the origins of the beans. By the time he was ready to start his own cafe, his education in how to supply his customers with a latte that was ‘sublime, every time’ was complete.
Knight’s Coffee & Tea opened their first store in Sydney’s Haymarket almost four years ago now. “I’ve always had an interest in hospitality,” says Jake. “My uncle was a chef, and I grew up around family who worked in restaurants and cafes.” He learnt from a young age, that it pays to find your passion, and pursue it – and for Jake, that passion was coffee.
But what he boasted in passion, he lacked in age and experience. “I was only 22 when I set up Haymarket,” says Jake, “and I was going into the banks, only for them to look at me like – ‘you’ve got no hope, mate’ – I was way too risky!”
But Silver Chef looked at Jake differently. He was already at that point where he had spent five years working in the coffee industry, had worked for two major coffee houses, and had a business degree. His positive merits far outweighed any danger associated with his first-time-business-owner status.
According to Jake, Silver Chef just ‘got it’, and has been looking after him since day one, establishing a strong business relationship that continues almost five years later, and beyond.
“For younger people starting up small business,” explains Jake, “there is not as much capital or business history as someone older. Trying to buy all your equipment straight up is a daunting task, not to mention one that will put you in a huge amount of debt. Silver Chef caps your payments as well, so there’s no surprises, and a real safety net in your first year of business.”
The first year of business for Knight’s Coffee & Tea was successful, but not without its challenges. Jake calls it his ‘big learning curve’, and is still surprised at how the different the end result was from his original expectations. “It was so great having that stability, like at the end of 12 months, being able to ask – did we actually need that small piece of equipment? No? Let’s give it back.”
At not even 30, Jake Knight knows how it feels to open a business as a young person. He said one of his biggest challenges was overcoming the common perception of the big banks being the ‘trusted’ option. The big lending organisations, as Jake points out, are working across multiple industries, and do not have a focus on hospitality alone.
“People have a fear about not going with the big banks. They have a fear with the smaller companies that there will be something nasty in the contract. But Silver Chef really gets the idea”, says Jake, “Things change, you might want to upgrade, it won’t always stay the same. Silver Chef know what you need.”
Having survived the tough world of small business from a young age, Jake is extremely encouraging to others who might be considering doing the same.
With a caveat, of course – “It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!” Jake warns with a laugh. “I was always tied to the performance of the business. When it did well, I was elated – when it did badly, I would be shattered. I think the mood swings were tougher on my girlfriend than anyone else!”
With a clear passion for what he does, and the flexibility of Silver Chef acting as his business partner-in-crime, we look forward to Knights Coffee & Tea number three opening soon with that same promise – sublime, every time.
Knights’s Coffee & Tea
(02) 9280 0039
Shop 5 827-839 George St,
Haymarket NSW 2007