Friday, 1 July 2016

Week beginning June 20th - Claire 'Brice' Brice - Kaffeine Legend

It's taken me a long while to write this, for which I can only apologise to the subject of the post who I hope is reading this one day while she sips beers on the beach in Lennox Head, NSW Australia to be exact, which is basically down the road from Byron Bay.

Claire Brice started on service back in June 2011, coming into a very strong team and what we may be able to say was the middle of our major growth period. Claire finished up in February 2016 in the position of Manager of Great Titchfield street, after a four and half year tenure. To say that Claire had a bit of impact on Kaffeine and the London coffee scene is basically an understatement.

She was very typical, in a good way, of many staff who have applied and some who have worked for Kaffeine. "I want to open my own coffee shop one day...' Claire had been in London since she was 18 years old, so about 8 years, and had been working in bars but had never worked in a coffee shop before. That's okay, let's put you on service. And she excelled.

As is normal process, we promote those who excel and Claire quickly became a senior service person, then an Assistant Manager as that position became available, all in the space of six months. Claire tells me the story of how she worked with me for the first few weeks and in her first three days did 12 hours straight 7 am to 7 pm every day and 'had never been so tired before'. Another story I love is how in the early days she took it upon herself to learn as much as she could about the coffee we served and the retail equipment we sold so that when she was being asked questions by customers she did not 'feel like a donkey'.

In November 2011, we set up a concession inside the Lend Lease building on Marylebone road and Claire went up there to manage it with some of other Kaffeine legends, Niall, Ashlea and her Assistant Manager Karolina. Set up as a sort of staff canteen for up to 500 people, the Lend Lease operation was five days per week and we made the food at GTS and sent it up twice a day. Unfortunately, it did not work out how we wanted, and with huge regret we had to take advantage of a break clause in the lease that allowed us to pull out after six months. It just was not right for us, however it was Claire and her team who made it as much of a success as it could ever be. It was also over these six months that Claire was able to hone her barista skills under the watchful eyes of Niall and Ashlea.

As we wound up Lend Lease in June 2012, the manager of Great Titchfield street, yet another superstar Amy, finished up her visa and went back to Australia. At this time, Kaffeine was booming we were at our peak levels of business and Claire stepped up to take over and in her own words, 'to fill very big shoes'.

So much happened over the next three and a half years, but it was not until February of 2016 when Claire finished up that I realised how quickly this time had gone by. Oh we had some funny times, so so funny, but there were also tears. Kaffeine can be, if I may say, a fairly high pressure environment. But Claire smashed it. Properly. From being on service, to being in the kitchen, to being a very, very good barista, to being a 'mother' to all the staff that worked for her and quite simply, being an amazing support to me and my family and the business to being an ambassador for the coffee industry on London.

So many of our customers knew Claire, when you are there 50 hours a week, every week for over four years, that is a lot of people looked after and hospitality provided to. So many of our staff also knew Claire and I know that some of her best friends were made at Kaffeine. I also remember at one stage a nice young man who started to hang out a lot at the shop. He worked locally and it seemed that he was coming in quite a lot. Our coffee sales increased. It took about six months, but eventually a relationship formed and Claire has now found the 'love of her life' in Kyle.

Around August 2014, Claire came to me to ask if there was any possibility that she could have a sabbatical to go back to Australia and also to Canada where her partner Kyle is from, to travel, but could she return to her job. It would be a three month holiday. Yes of course. Travelling and experiencing the world is so, so important and I fully encourage it. Claire came back in February 2015 just in time to help us open Eastcastle street and to also allow me to be pretty much full time there whilst it settled in. If there is one thing you need when you open a second store, it is a very strong, dedicated manager who can maintain and keep the standards and processes of the business together.

It was in 2015 that we were able to nominate Claire through Allegra Coffee Events to be an ambassador for the London coffee scene at the New York Coffee Festival. Up against some of the best in the London coffee scene, she won. A fully paid trip to New York for the inaugural New York Coffee festival, VIP tickets, black tie ball and access to all the sights and experiences of New York and the festival.

Often in the industry there is talk about how boys dominate it, but in the time that Kaffeine has been open we are now onto our fourth female manager. Catherine, Amy, Claire and now Holly. At Eastcastle street we have had Gina and now Alicja. If you want a great example of how females dominate the scene and make an impact, then you cannot go any further than both Kaffeine stores and Claire in particular.

Claire is what is very well known as a Kaffeine legend. On her last day we made a speech in front of about 50 customers in the shop and played the live concert version of Guns and Roses 'November Rain' as she took off her apron and walked downstairs for the last time.  Once again, there were tears.

I sincerely wish Claire and Kyle all the very best for their future in Australia or wherever they may end up. They fully deserve the best.

Peter Dore-Smith

Great Titchfield Street Menu

Seven Seeded toast with butter and preserves 2.00
Cinnamon and Raisin Toast 2.50
Fruit salad with pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes, passion fruit 3.90
Traditional bircher muesli with Greek yoghurt and rhubarb and raspberry compote 4.00
Granola muesli with pomegranate molasses, Greek yoghurt and rhubarb and raspberry compote 4.00
Ciabatta roll with omelette, pancetta, rocket and tomato salsa 5.00
Ciabatta roll with avocado, omelette, rocket and tomato salsa 5.00
Croissant with Italian roast ham, talleggio cheese, spinach and plum tomatoes 5.00
Breakfast Foccacia - Cotechino sausage, fried egg and gruyere cheese 6.50 (weekends only)

Pastries by Seven Seed bakery
French butter croissant 2.00
Pain au chocolat 2.50
Almond croissant 2.80

Baked Treats
ANZAC cookies 2.00
Portuguese tarts 2.00
Banana bread 2.50
Double chocolate chip and macadamia cookies 2.50
Blueberry and white chocolate muffins 2.50
Green pesto, tomato, spinach savoury scrolls 2.50
Tiramisu friands (gf) 2.70
Super moist chocolate brownies (gf) 2.80
White chocolate blondies 2.80
Raspberry and coconut slice (gf, df) 2.80
Polenta cake with citrus and spices 2.80
Carrot Cake 3.00

Own made brioche 5.00
Crispy bacon, artichoke sauce, slow roasted tomato, chedder cheese, rocket 
Crusted pumpkin, fried onion, buffalo mozzarella, spicy salsa, baby spinach 

French retro baguettes 5.30
Ham, grilled artichoke, basil pesto, roasted red pepper, chedder cheese, rocket
Grilled asparagus, roasted red onion, spicy pea, buffalo mozzarella, baby spinach

Salads: 5.50/7.00
Pan fried tuna salad with soba noodle, cucumber, carrot, edamame bean, sesame seeds and wasabi pesto 
Wild rice, pomegranate, cherry tomato, pistachio nut, feta cheese, lemon dressing, parsley,  rocket
Roasted aubergine, red pepper, cannellini bean, smoked hummus, spring onion, baby spinach

Tart: 4.40 or 8.00 with salads
Quinoa, sweet potato, courgette plum tomato, cheddar cheese pie

Eastcastle Street Menu

Sourdough seeded toast with butter and preserves 2.00
Gluten free bagel with butter and preserves 2.00
Fruit salad with pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes and passion fruit 3.90
Traditional bircher muesli with Greek yoghurt and rhubarb and raspberry compote 4.00
Paleo granola with Greek yoghurt and rhubarb and raspberry compote 4.00
Brioche with courgette omelette, spinach, gruyere cheese, mushrooms and tomato salsa 5.00
Brioche with treacle smoked back bacon, roasted tomatoes, smashed avocado, rocket and aioli 5.00
Croissant with Italian roast ham, talleggio cheese, spinach and plum tomatoes 5.00
Croissant with smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, tomato and rocket 5.00

Pastries by Seven Seed bakery
French butter croissant  2.00
Pain au chocolat 2.50
Almond croissant 2.80

Baked Treats
ANZACS  2.00
White chocolate, oats and cranberry cookies  2.00
Portuguese tarts 2.00
Banana bread 2.50
Blueberry, banana and nut cake with vanilla icing  2.50
Strawberry, apricot and flaked almonds muffins 2.50
Tomato, basil and cream cheese savoury scrolls 2.50
Blueberry, banana and nut cake with vanilla icing  2.50
Raspberry and coconut slice 2.80
Gluten free super moist chocolate brownies 2.80
Gluten free and dairy free protein bar 2.80
Salted peanut butter and white chocolate bar 2.80
Lemon brûlée tarts  2.90

Own made brioche buns 5.00
Courgette fritter, roasted aubergine, aioli, slaw.
Cumberland sausage, pea puree, roast onion, english mustard, spinach.

Baguettes 5.30
Curried egg, red onion, cucumber, alfalfa, rocket.
Shaved ham, pickles, plum tomato, cream cheese, spinach.

Salads 5.50 / 7.00
Shredded tender beef, roasted peppers, black lentils, roast onion, cherry tomatoes, avocado dressing, raddicchio.
Steamed broccoli, glazed beetroots, roasted sweet potato, asparagus, marinated feta cheese, baby spinach.
Raw kale slaw, carrots, cabbage, garden peas, sweet corn, parsley, lemon and cashew nuts.

Savoury Tart 4.40 or 8.00 with salad
Crispy pancetta, spring onion and garden pea quiche

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