Albayano entrepreneur spills beans on how to brew success

Albayano entrepreneur spills beans on how to brew success

By Gladys Serafica

Daraga, Albay — Dubbed the “second largest consumer of coffee in Asia,” the Philippines, without a doubt, is a country of coffee aficionados.

Whether it is an instant pick-me-up in the morning, a quick afternoon brew to break the monotony, or an after-dinner reward for a day’s work, Filipinos will never run out of reasons to grab a cup of this beverage that has become a staple for every home.

So, how can local entrepreneurs cash in on this booming coffee culture?

We ask Alexander Galicia, 47, owner of City Heights Cafe, a quaint coffee shop located in Highlands Park in the village of Estanza in Legazpi City, to spill the beans on how to carve a niche in a cutthroat caffeinated market.

When Galicia and his four friends started City Heights Cafe in 2021, their only goal was to share their love for coffee with a community that was reeling from a global pandemic.

“Initially, we just wanted to offer a tranquil place where people can unwind and enjoy their coffee. But when we realized the potential for foot traffic given our cafe’s scenic location, we saw the opportunity to turn it into a lucrative business by expanding our product line,” Galicia fondly explained.

While the Covid-19 pandemic spurred the birth of the shop, however, the subsequent lockdowns and quarantine impositions also threatened its survival in its infancy.

“There was a time when we were hardly making profits, but we managed to keep the business afloat because of sound management decisions,” he shared.

As an accounts officer for a company specializing in office equipment, Galicia knew firsthand that sustaining their cafe’s operations depends on prioritizing the shop’s four Ps: product, place, price, and promotion, or more commonly known as the marketing mix.

“Before we embarked on this business venture, we did extensive market research and planning to understand the dynamics of putting up a coffee shop since none of us had prior knowledge of running a cafe business,” he added.

Galicia revealed that their choice of location, unique products, which boast specialty drinks and unique coffee blends, strategic pricing, and communication strategies are the keys to survival in a caffeinated market that is heavily marked by stiff competition.

“With big cafe chains around, it is really hard to make a mark, but if you position your local coffee shop uniquely and innovate consistently, you can grow your business,” he said.

To ensure loyalty from his customer base, Galicia said he is always on the lookout for new ways to reach his target market, leveraging the power of social media to drive foot traffic to his humble shop.

Regarding his pricing strategy, he said he makes sure that his menu is affordable without sacrificing the quality of his products, adding that he monitors the prices of his competitors and keeps himself updated on market trends.

Mary Joy Lodronio, 38, said it is the al fresco dining experience and signature blends that make City Heights Cafe the perfect spot for a caffeine fix when in Legazpi City.

Strategically located at Highlands Park, coffee lovers can bask in the picturesque view of the city’s skyline and the majestic Mayon Volcano while indulging in their romantic coffee pleasures. “Here, I can enjoy two of my most favorite things: nature and coffee,” Joy, a mother of four said.

From creamy lattes to refreshing frappes, delicious pastries, and flavorful pastas, to decadent desserts and appetizers, this local cafe is sure to satisfy the taste buds of every coffee enthusiast.

In June 2023, Galicia, a proud father and husband to a college professor, became the sole proprietor of City Heights Cafe after buying out the shares of his former partners. As he embarked on this solo journey, he hoped to expand the business by setting up other branches in the province.

“Business entails calculated risks. As long as you keep your goals, stay committed to your passion no matter what the setbacks are, and adjust your strategies when necessary, you will be on the right track,” he added. (PNA)

SCENIC COFFEE SHOP. A quaint local coffee shop, located in Highlands Park in the village of Estanza in Legazpi City, is the perfect spot for coffee lovers as it offers a panoramic view of the city’s skyline and the majestic Mayon Volcano. Owned by Alexander Galicia (in photo), City Heights Cafe stands as a testament that with the right blend of marketing strategies, locally-owned cafes can make a mark in a highly a competitive caffeinated market. (Photo courtesy of Alexander Galicia)