16 December 2020, 11:11 AM
  • Lynsey Harley, founder of the coffee brand Modern Standard, has recently added a café to her professional portfolio. Here, she shares the lessons she’s learned since launching the new arm of the business
Lynsey Harley, Modern Standard: “What I’ve learned from opening a café”

I’ve learned that looking after the smallest of details is the most important thing. Often, it is the little things you don’t notice that make the biggest difference.

From coffee roasting to running a café, it really is one end of the spectrum to the other. With Modern Standard, I wanted to roast coffees that I could drink all day, that are delicious and approachable – not pretentious. This recipe has been really successful, and it’ll be how my café will be presented; warm hospitality, approachable and delicious coffees in a nice clean and considerate environment.

One of my favourite restaurants in London is Core by Clare Smyth. I’ve known the restaurant director Rob Rose for many years, from when he was a restaurant manager for Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant Royal Hospital Road. I was the barista trainer for their coffee supplier, and I would go around each restaurant training the staff on how to make a good coffee.

At the end of my meal at Core, Rob came over to see how I had enjoyed it, and I mentioned how lovely the staff were and how effortlessly they moved in the space. He said that they take ballet lessons, so that the waiters learn to move with ease.

This small attention to detail had a big effect on the perception. Running a business means you learn a lot about producing something from idea to execution, and you also learn about human nature – from customers, suppliers and colleagues.

The dynamic you have with each, and getting the most from each relationship, is something I have developed over time. We’re opening in Bruntsfield, a really nice Edinburgh neighbourhood. It has a great mix of students, young families, professionals and retired people, and we’ve had great comments so far during the fit out from people walking by.

I think with everything going on now, people are keen for a nice, fresh space to make new connections and feel comfortable in. Great coffee for everyone is our company motto, and I’m putting all my energy and experience into turning that into a tangible experience.