Kings Cart Coffee - Where Passion Meets Innovation
Words by Hoe Ziqian

Celebrating International Coffee Day with Kings Cart Coffee

You know a place is serious about its coffee when even its chef is a trained barista!

This is the story of Kings Cart Coffee. A team made up of passionate coffee drinkers and occasional alcoholics. To outsiders, it would seem like a challenge to contain the raw energy oozing from a young team of coffee enthusiasts, but that has never been a concern for the founders – Ronald Tan and Maggie Chen. In fact, the crew is happy to be labelled the ‘noisy bunch’ because there is a firm belief that beneath this raw energy is a wave of unbridled creativity, which is the quintessentially the core of their establishment.

Kings Cart Coffee started out as a small team of mobile coffee experience specialists which gradually evolved to become one of the leading corporate coffee bar service providers. Behind this evolution is a steadfast dedication to innovation, which has seen them conjure up exciting new coffee-based concoctions with consummate ease.

Like many other food and beverage establishments, the company became victim to the relentless lockdowns and restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost overnight, all its events were either postponed or cancelled. Forced into a corner, the team knew that it had to think out of the box to survive. They started off doing small corporate orders and coffee roasting to supplement their income. While it was a viable form of sustenance, it never came close to being the answer to their worries.

But that all changed when the founders chanced upon a quaint shopfront in Joo Chiat. In times of peril, most of us would often gravitate towards the safest path, but the folks at Kings Cart are apparently a different breed. The founders decided to take the leap of faith with all their remaining resources to open Kings Cart Coffee Factory.

Kings Cart Coffee Factory opened at 328 Joo Chiat Road during the pandemic but having a roastery within the café actually helped the company ride out the wave of lockdowns. (Image courtesy of Kings Cart Coffee)

The idea of having a roastery within a cafe is as ingenious as it was simple. The arrangement allows Kings Cart Coffee to pivot into a production space during a lockdown when a pure play cafe would have been otherwise crippled by the immediate decline in human traffic.

Sustaining The Flow of Inspiration

Inspiration is often the lifeblood of creativity. With the constant pressure to deliver new coffee-based concoctions, how does the Kings Cart team cope with the high level of expectations? The answer is simple – let nature takes its course.

The Kings Cart team has always been adventurous when it comes to tasting new food and experimenting with new flavours. But inspiration seems to hit them when they least expect it. This can be seen in a recent collaboration with 1925 Brew & Co. The team from Kings Cart Coffee has always had a good rapport with the 1925 crew. In fact, some might say that they drink too much beer and coffee together. The spark came out of nowhere one day when the owners of 1925 decided that they wanted to have a beer made from coffee. And within a matter of days, the award-winning Tiramisu Stout was born!

Kings Cart Coffee collaborated with 1925 Brew & Co to co-create the award-winning Tiramisu Stout. (Image courtesy of Kings Cart Coffee)

Such moments of epiphany are well and good, but there is little-known secret weapon that lurks within the Kings Cart crew.  Their manager Jacqueline can be quite the magician when it comes to whipping up new recipes! Armed with a keen sense of taste, smell, and eye for design, Jacqueline has curated many of the bestselling beverages in the current Kings Cart menu.

The founders of Kings Cart Coffee often encouraged their staff to be creative and fearless when it comes to experimenting with ingredients. With such experimentation, there is certainly the chance to discover the next big thing, but if you are unlucky, you may end up losing a lot more than just loose change. However, this has not deterred the company from testing new products and flavours.

The team at Kings Cart Coffee experiments with different ingredients and flavour profiles to come up with new and innovative products for its menu. (Image courtesy of Kings Cart Coffee)

For some of the products, they end up being inspired by the team members’ travel experiences, their typical work experiences or even something as simple as their daily comfort food. For Kings Cart Coffee, inspiration comes from every facet of daily life, and it hopes to harness this to its full potential.


Looking Ahead

Kings Cart Coffee plans to roll out more innovative and creative coffee-inspired beverages and boutique concepts in the coming year. In fact, the team is eyeing overseas expansion to create a direct passage where its customers can have direct access to coffee farmers, roasters and cafes alike. To support his vision, Kings Cart Coffee is looking to set up an educational division, with the aim of training and educating both professionals and home enthusiasts in all aspects of coffee.

Kings Cart Coffee founder, Mr Ronald Tan conducting a workshop (Image courtesy of Kings Cart Coffee)

There are also plans to expand the business within Singapore into the corporate sectors to bring out fresher products and better-quality service so that everyone can gain access to good quality coffee.


Enhancing the e2i Partnership

The collaboration with e2i has been instrumental in Kings Cart Coffee’s success in its early days and the company aims to build on that foundation in the years to come.

From a recruitment standpoint, the company will continue to participate in e2i’s career fairs and recruitment events as the exposure allows it to reach and connect with more potential candidates.

To better control its manpower costs, Kings Cart Coffee intends to leverage the training grants available through e2i, one of which is the Career Conversion Program or CCP in short.  Initiatives like the CCP make it possible for local companies to offer a better package to the local workforce and with that, gain access to a wider pool of talent. This helps the company keep its manpower costs in check as it embarks on its ambitious plan to develop its business.

With e2i’s training funding support, Kings Cart Coffee intends to send its employees for further skill enhancements which may not have been covered during their initial on-the-job training and onboarding program. For instance, the store operations manager can upskill by attending a marketing course, while a chef can attend communication skills training to improve his or her ability to effectively command the kitchen with both tact and steel.

There would be an added focus on increasing productivity through e2i’s approach to Job Redesign. With a young team that has an open mindset, the Kings Cart team is ready to adopt new equipment and technology to improve on its current work processes. The leadership team hopes to educate its employees on the benefits of embracing the use of these new work tools and methods, with the aim to achieve an easier and smarter work environment.

The founders believe that by improving the workplace environment and instilling a culture of training and upskilling, its employees would develop a greater sense of belonging and stick with the company through good times and bad. This would ultimately help Kings Cart Coffee achieve its long-term goal of lower attrition and greater employee satisfaction.


Embracing Worker 4.0

Through e2i’s guidance, the team at Kings Cart Coffee has learnt to embrace the core skill pillars of the Worker 4.0 initiative – Technical, Adaptive and Technology.

Its employees embrace Technology through the use of front-end systems like its Point-of-Sales software to tap on insights gathered on a daily basis to make data-driven decisions. The team is now able to analyse the cafe sales trends to better understand its customers’ consumption habits. These trends can translate into a better direction for the company in its research and development efforts, to hopefully give rise to a new menu item.

By learning to communicate better, the employees of Kings Cart Coffee are able to be more Adaptive as they are now better equipped to understand the personalities and behaviours of both their customers and the teammates standing next to them on the service front line. Over time, this should elevate the cafe operations crew to provide a higher level of customer service and communicate more effectively with their teammates.

With operational acumen a key success factor in any food and beverage setup, Kings Cart Coffee has managed to enhance its Technical capability through the fine-tuning of its standard operating procedures. The team was able to achieve this through the skilful combination of adaptive and technical skills and there is a constant push to keep practising and improving.

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