One of our London favourites is about to celebrate 4 years of trading and providing Chiswick with fantastic speciality coffee and tasty empanadas. We visited TAMP Coffee back in the snowier times to ask what makes them different, what is an empanada and can we keep Simba? Read on to find out what owner, Dorian, had to say.
We were the only speciality coffee shop in Chiswick in the beginning, but I knew that wouldn’t last and it wouldn’t be enough. So, being half Argentinian, I decided to look at Latin America and I wanted to claim coffee back from the Antipodean’s. I know the Antipodeans kind of paved the way and broke ground with speciality coffee and most speciality coffee shops in London have that kind of feel to them. . I though ‘hang on coffee is Latin American, let’s take it back’ [laughs]. I feel quite proud that I still don’t know of any other Latin American speciality coffee shops in London. It’s nice and I feel proud of that.
It’s essentially, and I’ll be crucified for saying this, but it’s a form of pastie. This is not historically proven, but it’s how I imagine they came about. In Argentina all of the engineering was built by the British; the railways, the roads, the bridges – hence all of the football clubs having English names. They were all set up by the railway workers, the engineers, the builders who all played football in their spare time. So my theory is they started making their own version of the pastie while they were there, and then it became an Argentinian pastie. They are not like ones you’d get here though, there’s no meat, no potato, their not massive and stuffed full and they’re not meant to be a whole meal. The traditional fillings are delicious and we’ve started to make our own recipes adding things like buvette, caramalised onions, red wine, we’re starting to really experiment with ours. They’ve become so popular.
I started getting them in as this unique point of sale and I didn’t know if anyone would buy them. No one knew what an empanada was but they fly out the door. People go crazy for them and come first thing in the morning to see if they’re out the oven yet.
TAMP is 4 soon (June) and is the same age as Simba. The plan is to just keep doing what we do, just keep selling coffee. If I do anything it will be something with Simba. He’s everything I aspire to be; young, fit, full head of hair!
Yes, it definitely was!
Yeah, we were the first speciality coffee shop in Chiswick and we had our point of difference, but we’ve always struggled with footfall. We’re not on the main road, we’re not by a tube station, we’re not in a highly commercial area and all of that makes business hard. I would say 95% of our customers are locals, we don’t get people randomly walking in and finding us by mistake, we rely on word of mouth. That takes time and it’s hard work, we’re slowly creeping up and we’re constantly working and tweaking and staying ahead of competitors.
Our food is better than it’s ever been. Our new in-house chef makes everything; our tortillas, our muffins, cakes, quiches, everything’s made here. The influence is all Argentinian and Spanish from the food to the wine and even the design of the space. I’m proud of having a high level of quality, everything has to pass the taste test.
On the weekends we’re doing brunches and it’s what the people want, sometimes I listen to customers! There’s a barbershop across the road called Big Jim’s Trims and there’s a sign on the bar that says the customer is always wrong, which makes me laugh. But I am old school, I do believe you should bend over backwards for your customers. If you don’t you’ll just lose them!
Yes, it did. You guys sent us about 6 or 8 samples, some of them we preferred more than others. The one that stood out, time and time again was the El Penol. We’re looking forward to seeing how customers react and I like seeing our name on the bag! I’m excited to have our own espresso, I’ve always wanted that for us. It’s nice to have something that is unique to us and to be able to finally do that.
I would say getting business advice. I’m really lucky to have a couple of business advisors who have been in the game for a long time. They have been in coffee, gastropubs hotels, and meeting them and what they have taught me to implement here has made a marked difference before and answer. The first thing we did was take on management accounts which helped me look at the business in a way I couldn’t before. Before it was just me signing papers here and there doing the end of month accounts. Having fully detailed management accounts done for you can change the way you see your business. It gives you a much clearer perspective and see everything. That has helped us survive those dangerous first 2 years. Without that we wouldn’t be here today, I really believe that. If I hadn’t had that help and advice, I wouldn’t be here. It’s not a cheap service, but it’s worth it.
The biggest learning curve for me was the jump from employee to owner. It’s a big jump and no one can really prepare you for that change. When things are hard, you need the support otherwise you’ll sink. If you don’t have great support you can’t do it. Get advice and look after your accounts.
I can’t single out any item, I’m not going to single out the coffee, the cakes, the tea, the empanadas. Come in, have what you want. We’re here to give people what they want. When we first opened we didn’t have alternative milks, we didn’t have the food customers wanted. I began to realise that this shop wasn’t for me, it wasn’t about what I wanted as a speciality coffee barista, it was for the customer. So come in and order whatever you want, it’s all good! It’s all passed the taste test.
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