10 Questions – The Journey

Cafes in the North East are increasingly becoming a place of work, with freelancers using them as an informal office space and business people as a meeting room. To learn more about this trend from the perspective of the people who work in the industry, Richard Dawson spoke to Adam Laing, owner of The Journey

Firstly, what does it take to run a successful café here in the North East?

It takes a multitude of things, but most importantly it’s a friendly face people come back for. People invest in people.

What are some of the main challenges doing business in the world of coffee?

Building a solid reputation is hard, which means that the first few years are incredibly difficult, especially if you’re running your business on a shoestring.

How do you set yourself apart from the global coffee brands who dominate the market?

A focus on local suppliers is important, but as with question 1 it’s all about people. It’s rare to walk in to a business and speak to the owner, people like the personal touch.

Why do you think such a thriving café culture has emerged in the North East in recent years?

There are a few contributing factors, but I think the main thing is that we are becoming more aware of what we consume, and where we’re putting our money. Investing in good quality, ethically sourced produce and local suppliers makes us feel good.

What proportion of your customers would you say come into the café to do work or for business purposes?

During the week it’s upwards of 50%. Our plan from the start was to engage with our neighbours which are the offices around us. We hold a couple of accounts with certain offices and our café is used as a meeting room. We also have free Wi-Fi and sockets so that individuals can work here.

Why do you think people prefer to do work in a café rather than the office?

If you can work remotely it makes sense and could potentially save you money if you don’t have to rent an office. For those who do have offices, a change of scenery is often stimulating, especially if you’re working in a creative industry. Also, the coffee is generally much better.

Do you think people will be more or less productive working from a café?

It depends on the day, the distractions, how busy the café is. Although It’s more stimulating to work in a café it can also be unpredictable.

Do you think giving people the opportunity to use the café as an office increases your revenues?


Are there any potential drawbacks to people using cafes as a place of work?

Our café is quite small, which has caused some issues in the past; we had large tables with four seats on each which meant that we would lose tables of four for lunch at peak times for the price of one coffee. We recently installed new furniture and sockets to help accommodate this and now have nine smaller tables which works much better.

If you could say one thing to the people who come into your café for business purposes, what would it be?

Thank you.

The Journey