Prague-based specialty coffee chain The Miners has set its sights on operating 200 stores across Europe by 2027. The company’s CEO Egor Kolpakov speaks to World Coffee Portal about expanding during the pandemic, the allure of Spain’s growing specialty coffee shop market, and aspiring to become Europe’s largest specialty coffee chain
Egor Kolpakov, CEO, The Miners | Photo credit: The Miners
Czech specialty coffee chain The Miners opened its first coffee shop in Prague in March 2019 and now operates seven stores and a roastery with three further outlets under construction.
Following its Spanish debut in December 2022, World Coffee Portal speaks to CEO Egor Kolpakov about plans outside of Prague, further Spanish expansion and seeking to become the largest specialty coffee chain in Europe.
How did The Miners come about and what have been the key milestones for the company to date?
We are doing fantastically. Our plans are coming nicely, and we are increasing our targets yearly. Being younger than four years, we have already opened seven cafés, and three are currently being built. Also, we operate our coffee roastery and roast around 2-3 tons of coffee monthly.
Our most significant milestone, in addition to opening in another market, is signing our first franchise agreement with one of our employees. It's a great pleasure seeing that people who work with us believe in the long-term success of our brand and want to be included more heavily in it.
What was it like expanding during the pandemic?
The pandemic was hectic. At its start, we had just one coffee shop that barely broke even, and we were building another 200sq m space and a coffee roastery. It required a lot of external funding, which took a lot of work to obtain amid the uncertainty at the beginning of Covid-19 lockdowns.
Thankfully, we optimised and since May 2020 we have started generating higher revenues than in pre-pandemic months, as well as increased our profits which helped to solve cash-flow issues.
“Spain is a nice sized coffee shop market with a still heavily growing specialty coffee boom”
In December 2022, The Miners launched its first international location in Barcelona, Spain. What attracted you to the Spanish coffee shop market?
Firstly, I better explain why we needed to enter another market. Even though we only started in 2019, we will operate at least 10 locations in Prague by the end of 2023, plus three-five more in the pipeline. It makes it roughly 15 sites for quite a small town, and there is not much more space for us to grow locally. So, we needed to look for a larger market.
Choosing among larger markets in Europe wasn't as complicated as it may sound. Just a few countries have multiple cities with populations over one million, and even fewer that we can imagine spending a lot of our time in. Spain is a nice sized coffee shop market with a still heavily growing specialty coffee boom and I have a friend who will lead our Spanish expansion.
Is further international expansion on the cards?
International expansion is a must for us to have enough fun. We like challenges, and our challenge is to open 200 locations in Europe within the next three-four years. We are currently setting up the best team to handle such a journey and are preparing to start the construction of 24 new locations in 2023.
Czech specialty coffee chain The Miners opened its first coffee shop in Prague in March 2019 | Photo credit: The Miners
The Czech branded coffee shop market is led by international chains (McCafé, Costa Coffee and Starbucks). How does The Miners stay competitive?
Well, I think there is an issue with big players. They lack soul, fun and energy. That's how I differentiate 'specialty' players and 'commercial' in any industry.
The specialty coffee shop atmosphere is hard to scale, but who, if not us, can?
How has The Miners diversified its sales channels and reach?
Our core business is running amazing coffee shops. Due to some scale, we can produce different products like coffee capsules, drips and cans. People like them so much that we also distribute them outside our cafés. We supply high-end supermarkets, co-working sites, offices, and other cafés.
Additionally, we run a barista training centre, and soon we will launch courses for people who want to open their own coffee business so we can spread our experience and enhance the entrepreneurial community.
Overall, we are here to have a lot of fun building this business and we strongly believe we can become the largest specialty coffee chain in Europe. Having this goal in mind, we happily wake up in the mornings and face our day-to-day challenges.