With its internationally renowned coffee culture, many would expect Melbourne to have the nation’s most expensive coffee but this could not be further from the truth. Melbourne’s takeaway pop-up stores are selling coffee for just $3.80 compared with an average of $4.86 in Darwin and $4.58 in Hobart.
As coffee businesses in Melbourne’s sixth lockdown rely increasingly on takeaway, they realise value for money and exceptional customer service is more important than ever.
“Whether it’s $4 or $6, if you have a coffee every day you’re looking at an outlay of $1400-$2100 per person per year on average,” says Chez Mademoiselle Manager Kevin Tribet.
With its competitive prices, business at Chez Mademoiselle is booming during lockdown. It now sells 1500 to 1800 coffees a week along with a high volume of croque monsieur, the classic hot French sandwich of gruyère cheese and ham as well as mouth-watering “sandwich baguettes” – a fresh, crispy baguette of leg ham, cheese and tartare sauce. Also popular is the vegetarian version with halloumi, avocado, salad and basil oil.
“We’re seeing a lot of young people in their 20s and 30s who may have travelled to work before but are now working from home. After the first lockdown, they just kept coming back.
“We have a contactless loyalty card system, where regular customers’ personalised coffee cards are placed on a window as a reminder we are thanking them for their loyalty in tough times. We have dedicated staff to stamp them and provide every seventh coffee free.
“Our prices are also typically about 10% lower than standard, at $3.80 for a regular coffee.
“The price of some coffee in Melbourne can range from $4.50 (small) to $6 (large) and more for special milks and extras. So I think in tough times people really appreciate value for money and customer service. And of course the French food doesn’t hurt either.”
Chez Mademoiselle owner David Brandi, who also has 15 other businesses including the Melbourne Swimming Club and Australian Pipe & Tube, says that survival in COVID is all about customer loyalty and innovations.
“We have a lot of experience in French food with our fine dining restaurant Chez Olivier. During lockdown of course fine dining really suffered. But as soon as lockdown was over it bounced right back, and I know that will happen after this lockdown too.
“Our extensive customer base love anything French. So, it was an easy ‘pivot’ for us to extend to takeaway in Prahran. Our next plan is to be a purveyor of French foods with a retail section in the café, selling French deli items.”