Samui Wining & Dining
A Day in The Life of …

Coffee Club’s highly versatile Restaurant Manager, Khun Jiraporn.


A Day in The Life of …People come to Samui for a whole variety of reasons. And for most it’s to relax and enjoy everything the island has to offer. For some, though, the advent of tourism has not only created new jobs but also new career opportunities. Khun Jiraporn (or Nuu, as she’s better known) has been the Restaurant Manager of the Coffee Club in Chaweng since it opened a year ago. And a typical day for her now is very different from what it used to be.

 

JP: Hi Khun Nuu; first of all, where are you from are where were you educated? 

Nuu: I was brought up in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand and after school I attended university in the city gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies. Growing up I was always singing and at university I would perform in bars and clubs during the week both on my own and with a band. It was something I loved doing but not what I would consider a real career.

 

JP: When did you first come to Samui?

Nuu: About nine years ago, not too long after I graduated. I had friends who worked on the island and I trained as a massage therapist. Over the years I worked in and managed the spa teams at Muang Samui Resort, Paradise Resort and KC Resort. I had a hectic schedule as I would be in the spa during the day and early evening and later would sing with a band at places like Sound, Solo, Reggae Pub and many others all over the island.

 

JP: So how did the position with Coffee Club come about? 

Nuu: I was looking for a change of direction and to work for a much larger organisation that could offer more in terms of training, responsibility and future opportunities. Coffee Club is Australia’s largest home-grown café group with 280 outlets in the Asia Pacific region, five of which are in Thailand. And it’s widely known for its good food, great service, and excellent coffee. A couple of years ago the Minor Group bought a 50% stake in the company with a view to expanding internationally. They are one of Asia’s largest hospitality and leisure companies with over 70 hotels and resorts, 1,100 restaurants and more than 200 retail outlets. They operate under hotel brands such as Anantara, Marriott and Four Seasons and high street restaurant brands like Sizzler, Swensen’s, the Pizza Company, Burger King, Thai Express and Dairy Queen. And it’s a company that places a high value of developing the careers of those who want to progress and learn.

 

JP: Tell us about the Coffee Club on Samui.

Nuu: We’re in a three-storey building on Chaweng Beach Road, just a few metres north of the Green Mango nightlife area. We can seat more than 100 people on the ground and first floors and, as well as being fully air-conditioned, we have an outdoor terrace overlooking the road on the first floor. The top level is where our chefs prepare all the fresh food in a state-of-the-art kitchen. We use a dumb-waiter system to quickly get the hot food to our customers. We’re open from 8:00 am until midnight, have free Wi-Fi for customers and I have a team of fourteen staff including four chefs.

 

JP: Coffee Club is obviously highly regarded for its coffee, tell us why?

Nuu: Our buyers select and blend high-grown, washed Arabica beans from a variety of origins including, Honduras, Peru, El Salvador and Columbia. These beans contribute acidity, aroma and richness. And they also use unwashed Arabica that are from a number of vast coffee growing regions in Brazil that deliver a smooth velvet sensation. They then blend a touch of unwashed Robusta beans from Tanzania, Uganda and India, which add good body and a hint of chocolate. Our signature blend of coffee is roasted using longer roast times at lower temperatures. This gives the coffee a smooth, rounded espresso taste with less acidity and the roast colour achieved is a medium dark roast, which maximizes flavour without unpleasant bitterness or acidity. In the restaurant I have three fully trained baristas and my supervisor, assistant manager and I are also trained baristas. There’s an extensive training programme in place to ensure that every single cup of coffee is served perfectly.

 

JP: What is a typical day like for you?

Nuu: That depends on whether I’m on the early shift from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm or the late shift which is from 3:30 pm until 12:30 am. Mornings are very busy for us, more people come in for coffee than in the evenings and we also serve breakfast all day which few places around us do. I’ll tend to get in our stock orders and clear any administrative work as soon as I can and then the focus is on the customers. Afternoons are a good time for briefings and training sessions when the morning and late shifts cross over. We do have much more competition around us for dinner but our menu is designed to cover lots of different tastes and is family-friendly with a good choice of children’s meals. And as we’re air-conditioned it’s very pleasant on those hot, humid evenings. Once a month I go up to Bangkok to meet with other Coffee Club managers and our regional manager where we discuss restaurant performance, new initiatives and our own personal development plans. Each restaurant is also audited every month and that covers everything from how we greet guests, prepare and serve the food and drinks and a very high priority is given to health and hygiene. You need to be on top of your game each and every day.

 

JP: Finally, Khun Nuu, do you ever sing in the restaurant?

Nuu: Not here, no. I’m not sure my boss would like that, but maybe I should start a Coffee Club Quartet! On my day off I’ll sometimes go and see one of the bands I know and get up and sing a few songs with them; that’s always good fun.

 

Johnny Paterson

 


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