When one thinks of coffee, Russia hardly comes to mind as a country that supplies the best in the world. Yet one company aims to change that. Double B, a five-year-old Russian coffee shop chain, is now serving coffee lovers in Barcelona, Prague and Tbilisi, and recently opened its first shop in Dubai. How have they accomplished this in such a short period of time?
“The key reason for Double B’s success is the quality of our product,” Anna Tsfasman, the founder and general director of Double B, told Russia Beyond. “We hire only people who are genuinely in love with coffee and share our goals. This is a key factor helping Double B become a brand associated with quality coffee. That’s why our product is popular in Russia and abroad.”
Since its inception in 2012 the company has been working with specialty-class coffee beans through full-cycle production – directly selecting harvests from farmers abroad, roasting the beans and then delivering them worldwide.
Double B has two full-scale roasting facilities in Moscow and Prague, and even has its own Barista Academy for training new members of the team. The company boasts multiple-winning Russian coffee brewing champions, as well as a world championship finalist in coffee roasting, as members of its team.
Going global was a challenge, said Tsfasman. In Spain the company had to acquire a special license that costs anywhere from 80,000 to 800,000 euros, which is a heavy burden for a coffee shop; while in Dubai it was hard to find the right premises.
“The market there is oversaturated, and the requirements for tenants are very high. We got lucky though – we found a place in the City Walk center, which is a sign of quality allowing us to get new locations in Dubai with less difficulty,” said Tsfasman.
The idea to open a shop in Dubai came from Tsfasman's friends, and there were many challenges to open it – every step had to be approved by state authorities and commissions.
Still, the company will open two more shops in Dubai by year's end, and a few more next year.
“We planned it from the very beginning when we decided to go to the United Arab Emirates,” said Tsfasman. “We entered the market with our partners and agreed to open a few shops there.”
She believes it's economically justified and corresponds to Double B’s image as a global coffee shop chain.
If you compare doing business in Russia with abroad, the main similarity is that one needs to work hard to achieve results.
“Cultural differences, bureaucracy and legal rules – everything is solvable and fixable,” Tsfasman said. “In any market one has to look for the right approach towards people, trying to become closer to them and think long term. Coffee is a universal product loved around the world, so for us it’s key to maintain high quality and approach in different locations.”
In general, what is Russian business lacking to be competitive abroad? Tsfasman thinks there are two main things. First, the need for a unique product that will make the world go, “Wow! Is this really a Russian concept?”
And second – faith in oneself and one’s strengths. “A combination of these two is the right recipe for success outside Russia,” she concluded.
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