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Business & Industrial

2499 Café: Don’t Dream, Just Make It Happen

Published Date : 15 Oct 2019

Resource : Creative Thailand

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For the new generations, whether it is Generation Y or Millennials, one of the dreams worth pursuing is to set up their own business, be their own boss, and have the freedom to make their personal career path decision. Some may dream of creating a small business which allows them to work at home or any places with working hour flexibility. It sounds like a dream which is too good to be true and almost larger than life. Some people may even criticize that life is not that simple, and it is not supposed to be that simple.

‘Figuring it out’ what you really want to do is not that simple and realistic. A lot of young people feel trapped within the social norm and the threat of ‘life security’. They have been patiently waiting for ‘the right moment’ that they will be ready to pursue their career dream. However, a lot of conditions today are different from those in the past; job options and possibilities are plentiful, and the ‘mistake’ of changing majors or careers was not as costly as in the past. For the new generation when it comes to the pursuit of a dream job, all they need to do is to develop a clear vision of what their adult lives will be like and how to achieve it.

Artit Tunchareon and Pang Thidalak Tunchareon, a lovely young couple who run a small coffee shop at their own home, 2499 Café, located at Lung Muang Alley 10, Sri Chan Road, Khon Kaen, are very determined to choose their career path and put their utmost effort to make it happen. With the freedom to create, to innovate, to express themselves and their ideas in creating their small business, they have come quite a long way; the achievement is proved by the upcoming 1st-year-anniversary celebration of the coffee house at the end of this month.

“Since I was a kid, I always wanted to run a coffee shop,” Pang greeted us with her bright and sincere smile when we asked her about her dream career. Luckily, her dream has come true much faster than she had expected.

After graduating in Business Computer major, Artit and Pang, who started their relationship as classmates, decided to build a family here in Khon Kaen. They renovated part of their residence and turned it to be a coffee house. Now they have a two-year-old bright and adorable boy, Achi, who is the centre of love and attention.

“By working at home, we always have family time. I also have time for myself. We can raise the kid by ourselves, and that’s the best part.”

When asked if they had considered working in a company like a lot of young people at their age, they both have a similar viewpoint,

“We see that working in a company is like you sweat for others and put your attempt for others. But by doing our own business, we’ll have time to spend with the kid as a family.”
Story by Dr. Paradee Tungtang

2499 Café is a lovely coffee shop resided in an old two storey, half wooden half concrete green house. The name “2499” derives from the (Buddhist) year officially stated in the original Certificate of Land Ownership; the year was also probably around the same time when the house was built. The coffee shop is decorated in a vintage tone style with green garden in small plant pots in every corner of the shop and green plants hanging from the roof making it nice and cosy, just like sitting in your home.

All coffee recipes have been created by the couple and have been constantly adjusted on requests and advice of their customers. At the moment, there are three newly created recipes which have become the shop’s signatures: Dang Bireley’s, Dum Esso, and Pooh Raberdkuod. The names are inspired by the famous characters in a super-famous Thai film in 1997, ‘2499 Dang Bireley’s and Young Gangsters’.

“We created all the recipes as we’re both coffee lovers. These recipes are not ready-made. We got to try them many times and also developed from customers’ feedbacks.

For Dang Bireley’s, it’s a mixture of Sala flavoured syrup and coffee, top-up with milk foam. It took us quite a long time to find the perfect combination. We got drunk drinking too much coffee (laugh).

Another popular recipe is Pooh Raberdkuod. As Raberd means bomb in Thai, we got to try to create the popping taste, so we put popping candy powder inside the straw. When we drink it, we feel the drink is popping in the mouth. For this recipe, we tried with so many different types of drinks – coffee, coke, coffee with soda, but finally, we found that it’s perfect with Thai tea and soda. 

Apart from coffee drinks, the shop serves made-to-order freshly cooked food as well. It is perfect for those who look for a place to have a quick lunch in the rush hour. Some of the most popular dishes served here include Thai rice with spicy pork with sweet basils, Thai style fried Suki, and spicy stir-fried noodles. Artit, who inherited cooking talent genetics from his ancestors, most of whom were also professional cooks, is the chef himself.

Pang added, “We want to add snacks and sweets into the menu. Every day after school, our customers, most of whom are hungry school students, are looking for between-meal snacks. We’re thinking about toasts and custard as they’re pretty quick and simple to prepare.”

Building our own business has great benefit in terms of freedom and choice selection; it is, however, not without any obstacles. The fact is that coffee shop business is one of the most competitive businesses. Having learned from a failed business in the past, they found it sensible to take a cautious step.

“What we need to keep in mind are budget and location” Artit described,

“It’s very important that we got to keep a record and do daily accounting. If we forgot anything, it’d be hard to track where the money was spent to. By doing daily accounting, we know exactly about the cost and budget, and it makes us understand our customer and their nature. There’re also some quiet months during school break; it was like the low season that we got to be a bit more cautious with our budget.

Regarding the location, the best possible location should be close to some workplaces and schools. Our regular customers on weekdays are company officers. Actually, our location may not be perfect; there’s no company building around as this is a residential area. But we try our best to make our customers feel like home by providing the best possible service. For our regular customers, we remember what their favourite drink is.”

Customers are the valuable primary source to develop and build on the business.

“Some customers asked if we’re going to open the shop at night as a beer bar. They said this place is perfect for a cosy bar. We had some foreigners walking into the shop and ordered some beers first; they didn’t know that we were a coffee shop. But we cannot do it now; we’re still short of staff. For us, it’s not possible to work from morning till late at night at the moment.

If possible, we would like to have our brand. Some customers also asked if we’re selling a franchise for our drink recipes. But we’re not ready yet. Also, what we’d like to do first is to open the shop early in the morning, perhaps at 6 o’clock, to serve some customers who may want some morning coffee. That’d be our upcoming plan.”

Although having a coffee house is like a dream come true, for the couple, this is absolutely not an easy task.

“We got to do everything in the shop from sweeping the floor to doing all the cleaning.” Pang smiled,

“It’s exhausting, of course, and there were times that we wanted just to give up. But if we give up, it’ll be like we have to start counting one all over again. I don’t think it’s a good idea. If we’re tired, we take a good rest and continue working. It’s exhausting but also something worth fighting for; at least we can work at home.

It’s very comfortable working at home. We can plan our time. If we don’t feel like working today, we can just close the shop and go out somewhere. But if we work in a company, we may have to sit in a mundane environment near someone we may not even like…”

When we asked Artit and Pang to demonstrate their signature coffees, they managed three special drinks for us, Dang Bireley’s, Pooh Raberdkuod, and the most recently created refreshing drink called “Coffee Kee Kek” (the mixture of coffee and chrysanthemum tea). The drinks were all lovely, confirmed by our team members who tasted them all.

While observing the lovely couple working behind their coffee bar and at the same time parenting their super cute two-year-old boy who was running around in the shop, I couldn’t help but had a big smile on my face. This may be picture-perfect someone could ever dream of; it’s simple but beautiful. Although this is just a small coffee house, the determination to build the business sprung up from “love” is big and vividly clear. It is up to all of us to cross the bridge to our dreams and be ready to own that responsibility.

If you’re looking for a perfect place with a nice cup of coffee to avoid the afternoon heat, this place is highly recommended. The 2499 Coffee House opens from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. every day (except Tuesday).

Story by Dr. Paradee Tungtang
Photography by Titipat Pattanawijit (ROUGE Studio)