Student-entrepreneurs promote local beans with coffee on the go
(Video courtesy of Colloquial Coffee)
The role of coffee in students’ lives has grown significantly from being an average drink to a “must-have” for study sessions in the wee hours of the morning. If you’re the type of student who can’t live without a caffeine fix, perhaps a bottle of Colloquial Coffee (CLQL Coffee) is the right joe for you.
A project of student-entrepreneurs, Colloquial Coffee is a company serving handcrafted 18-hour cold brewed coffee that utilizes single-origin Philippine coffee beans, served in glass bottles.
Its founders are JP Gomez (4 BS Communications Technology), Giles De Jesus (4 BS Business Management Honors), Mich Chan (4 BS Legal Management), Niko Tiutan (4 BS Business Management), Alex Atienza (4 BS Business Management) and Trisha Lok (4 BS Business Management) from the Ateneo de Manila University John Gokongwei School of Management (JGSOM).
Their project is a requirement in an 18-unit elective course called Business Accelerator Program (SOMBA). SOMBA is a business incubator that trains students to learn the entire business process, from idea generation to the sale of their products.
“We want to promote specialty coffee,” Gomez, one of the group’s proponents, says. “We want to make it more approachable.” He adds that they used the term colloquial, (language used in ordinary or familiar conversation), because they want to make the coffee experience more casual.
Thus in one corner of the foyer of Ateneo’s Science Education Complex (SEC B), one can see a brown cart with wheels manned by at least 1 or 2 students with big, welcoming smiles.
“Our service is unique and different from other coffee establishments because we’re a pop-up store. We’re a coffee bar on wheels, we can promote specialty coffee to anyone and anywhere. Gomez says. “We serve unique variants of cold brew that are not present anywhere else. All of our members are also equipped with knowledge to promote specialty coffee.”
The student-entrepreneurs live up to their vision by making it a point to interact and have conversations with their customers. As part of the growing coffee community in the Philippines, they wish to promote coffee culture as well as to get to know their consumers on a more personal level.
Apart from their setup, their concoctions are also named after popular culture references. Their bestseller of iced black coffee, Black Mamba, is a reference to basketball star Kobe Bryant. Another one of their famous mixes is Basic B, made up of coffee, milk, vanilla syrup and fresh mint leaves. Some of their drinks are also made with homemade special syrups.
Their coffee blends are prepared on the spot and are stored in glass bottles. Drinks range from PhP 110 to PhP 130.
Gomez shares that at the beginning of their project, they were just a group of strangers who loved coffee. By brainstorming, researching, visiting various coffee shops and talking to baristas, the group was able to come up with their current offerings.
“Everything that we do, we get inspiration from other people, other places and base it on all our learnings,” Gomez says. “But we still make sure that at the end of the day, our product is unique and special.”
Just like any business, there will always be ups and downs. As students, their main competition is time.
De Jesus, another core member of the group, says that since all of the members have different schedules, it is a bit difficult to manage their time at the stall. Having to grind and brew the coffee beans, they have to wake up earlier than usual. He, however, sees this as a good thing.
“Each day you work, you get to see the little things you can do better,” De Jesus says. “I think that’s how we got to this point, working day by day and seeing what works.”
Gomez adds that no matter how hard it gets, their passion and love for Colloquial Coffee helps them get through various situations.
After an 8-hour shift, their cart closes and they get ready for another day, but not without sharing their experiences with one another.
Gomez says that the people they meet every day are no longer mere customers but good friends. “We develop close relations with them. It really makes me proud that they love our product and (have) become our regulars,” he says.
For De Jesus, he says their group connects well as friends and as a team. “We really know what we want to do and who we are as a brand. That’s what’s going to guide every decision we make and that’s how we will be able to get a path for us to be successful.”
Colloquial Coffee only has until May to operate but the group is already considering plans for the future of their project.
“Maybe we’ll expand, not as a cart anymore but as a full scale coffee shop,” Gomez says. “We’re also planning to get into other beverages.”
The group has a bright future. Someday a bottle of Colloquial Coffee will be the “must-have,” but not just for study sessions.
Follow Colloquial Coffee’s journey on their social media accounts @CLQLCoffee (Twitter), @ColloquialCoffee (Instagram) and /ColloquialCoffee (Facebook). For catering and event inquiries, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 0917 806 5524.