"We're a people company first...and then we do some coffee" 

Marinus from Padre Coffee is constantly learning and uses his past experiences to bring his business to success.

"I love building cafes, my staff love building cafes and we love running them.

It’s a cold Autumn morning and the wind is fierce as I walk down Lygon Street in East Brunswick. Stepping into Padre Coffee, I enjoy the warm and calm interior and settle into my seat with a Flat White and Croissant supplied by Northcote Bakeshop.

It’s not just your regular café, as Padre Coffee organises workshops for the curious customer with roasting, tasting and brewing sessions available - next to a display of their specialty blends is a large roasting machine. Head over to their Eventbrite page and you’ll see events organized on a weekly basis.

From engineer to entrepreneur

“Education is a big part of what we do” says owner Marinus Jansen. Originally a software engineer, Marinus holds a double degree in music and physics and after 10 years in the corporate world settled on the coffee industry. “I skipped a few years at school and got through to university quite young - I couldn’t even drink at the student bar”

His passion for coffee comes from his Dutch heritage, his grandmother weaning him on coffee at only 18 months. “Black coffee, 3 sugars – that’s how they did it back then. Coffee is close to me in terms of my roots, and culture and you must have the right genetic makeup to drink as much coffee as I do”.

“Not many people understand what specialty coffee is and the sustainability that comes with it “. Marinus is clearly passionate about his beans and Padre Coffee bring in a large variety from around the world including Indonesia, Africa and the South America.

Constantly moving between Victoria and Queensland – Marinus originally started Padre Coffee as the Brunswick East Project. A signature blend of theirs – the ‘Padre Blend’ was so well received it led to Padre Coffee becoming its own brand and company. With 3 locations currently in Noosa and Victoria – Marinus also oversees the online and wholesale business of the group and has dabbled in creating software for roasters. “We now have some pretty cool software products for coffee roasters”. It’s evident how his time and experiences have been put to great use in expanding the business portfolio. “We’ve utilised a lot of (technology and programming) in our business as well, my background in software engineering has been very helpful”.

Building the right culture

Why did he choose this life? “Small businesses – because it’s what you make of it. To me, the most interesting thing about small business is that can be so diverse” says Marinus. “At one end of it, you need people who will wake up at 6am every day come to work and make coffees all day, and on the other there are those doing a 2-year budget and a 5-year business strategy. You have financial planning, sales and marketing, the internet…it draws on a broad range of skills”. He’s also clear that it wasn’t always smooth sailing and there were the years of transition and learning. “Getting into cafes and back to coffee was interesting. I wouldn’t say it was super successful initially as I had a lot to learn. There were changes to be made with lifestyle – you need to know how you want to live life and do things”.  

It’s obvious how his experiences have left him with a non-traditional perspective on how he wants his businesses to run. “People need to feel involved, meeting goals and achieving things. We’d be a lot more profitable with half the amount of staff, but we’d have a lot of stressed out people working really hard who don’t talk to each other. Having enough people to run in a comfortable manner, not only are they doing the job but doing it properly and this leads to a solid culture. It’s not focusing on how clean the floor was but creating an environment of happy healthy people”.

 For Marinus, culture and people matter throughout the business. “One of the biggest let-downs in our industry is suppliers who don’t share our culture. But Flexikitch does - that value alignment matters to me. It’s important to have a moral compass in business otherwise I’d just go back to corporate”.

Handling each business according to their needs is vital. “Bigger suppliers might just treat you like a number; they’re not interested in what you do and won’t always give you a fair go. Flexikitch understands our business model, they know what is important to us and they make it happen. To us it’s a no brainer. Having that two-way relationship creates values for us and we believe that this is key to having a long-term relationship with all suppliers”.

It's all about coffee for people

“When I get asked about what we do – I say we’re a people company - and there’s also this thing we do with coffee…we’ve got software/hardware we’re building for coffee roasters, cafes, wholesale and warehousing and all the other things in between. But predominantly it’s people – it can be your biggest disappointment and also your greatest joy”

What’s up ahead for Padre Coffee and Marinus? “We’re aware that our business is customer oriented, as that’s what leads to longevity. We’ve got many exciting things we can do. We will knock out a few big projects in the next couple of years which might mean going to a new city and restarting the wheel like we did with Noosa or growing our presence online or just new products”.

More about Padre Coffee on the webon Instagram, on Twitter and on Facebook.