If the word “decaf” strikes terror in your heart, if you salivate at the sound of water percolating, then you’ll understand what drove Miriam Rapea to quit her job as a communications coordinator and turn her dream into a reality far sooner than she expected.
“I’d always wanted to own a café, but I thought it would be something I would try when I retired,” says Rapea. “When I started to do the research, I became hooked.”
It was the Manuka Fines Wines and Espresso Bar franchise concept that caught her eye. Coffee is every bit as complex as wine and in the speciality coffee industry the two beverages share many features: both are sniffed and sipped for pleasure, both offer a complex variety of tastes and aromas, and both enhance meals and special occasions.
“I liked the sophisticated combination,”says Rapea. “My husband is a wine connoisseur, while I am the caffeine enthusiast, so it was perfect.” A Manuka franchise costs in the region of R1 million. After raising the finance by cashing in her pension and securing a bank loan, Rapea opened her store in March at The Core in Sunninghill, Johannesburg.
Not just another wine bar
Manuka boasts more than 300 wines from estates in the Western Cape.Full tasting notes accompany each bottle to help customers choose the right one. All Manuka staff members have attended courses at the Cape Wine Academy and are able to offer expert advice.
Free weekly wine tastings are held at the boutique with representatives from the wine estates taking customers through the nuances and characteristics of each wine.
Not for sissies
“I have new respect for anyone who goes into the franchise business,” says Rapea. Her month-long training course was rigorous, and took her all the way from washing dishes to sipping wine on the most beautiful estates of the Cape.
“When you learn to cater for people on a large scale, you understand how demanding the food industry can be. First impressions are everything.”
Rapea says she plans to distinguish her store and its staff by the level of service they provide. “It’s about learning the names of your customers and being able to give them information – whether it’s about wine, coffee or the location of the nearest ATM,” she says.
For more information, visit www.manuka.co.za.