Cafe scene a crowded space

Velocci Coffee owner Will Bufton has spoken out about the amount of coffee shops in the Launceston central business district. Picture: MARK JESSER

Velocci Coffee owner Will Bufton has spoken out about the amount of coffee shops in the Launceston central business district. Picture: MARK JESSER

OVERCROWDING of Launceston's cafe scene could see smaller venues close through competition, according to Cityprom chief executive Vanessa Cahoon.

Central Launceston boasts a range of more than 20 cafes, at least two more have opened within the past two months.

Ms Cahoon said the amount of discretionary income for Launceston residents was limited and putting strain on existing businesses.

"It tends to be disappointing when you see too many particular products in the city area," she said.

"That makes competition difficult for everybody.

"We certainly have more cafes than we need, that doesn't mean businesses can't be successful, but they do have to have that point of differentiation to compete."

Although increased numbers may see thinning returns for businesses, Launceston Chamber of Commerce chief executive Maree Tetlow said it was part of the city's growing cosmopolitan culture.

"The city has to become a destination in its own right, it can't just be a retail hub," Ms Tetlow said.

"From an international tourism point of view, [cafe culture] is almost like an expectation.

"You can go to places where they don't have it and that soon gets around."

She said because of that, people were still able to find a decent coffee on a Sunday.

"Once people get recognition that they're open, people will make the special effort to be in and around the town," Ms Tetlow said.

Velocci Coffee's Will Bufton said cafe culture in Launceston had become "a little over-saturated", but used his own experience to keep an edge on competition.

"All of our beans are roasted in- house, that's our point of difference," he said.

"It helps keep it fresh, they're always roasted within a week of being sold. A lot of places have beans that were roasted four, six, or eight weeks ago."

Mr Bufton has been making coffee since 1997, shortly after Melbourne and Sydney's exploding espresso culture.

A small-scale portable coffee machine business, shared by Mr Bufton and his father, was the initial step in starting his two-year- old St John Street shopfront.

"Because I sell the beans too, people come in and buy them by the kilogram over time," he said.

"It's not just selling wet coffee, a lot of it is in bean sales, I've got a good regular client base for that.

"New coffee shops come and go."

Mr Bufton said maintaining a selection of roasts, his own blend and a host of single-origin beans, was important for keeping clientele.

"It's not as busy as I'd like, but we're fairly busy, I can afford to pay myself a wage," he said.


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