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Abdelrahman Fathalla, Founder of Guillam Coffee House

IN CONVERSATION WITH

A fantastic café, Guillam, has opened at The Whiteley Gallery (31 St Petersburgh Place), Mon-Sat 8am-5pm and Sun 10am-4pm. Shortlisted for "most notable new café in London" at the London Coffee Festival, Guillam prides itself on the attention they pay the coffee; curating a changing menu of different coffee beans from all over the world. All the beans are from traceable provenance, which ensures quality and that farmers get paid a fair and decent price for their hard work.

We sat down with the founder of Guillam, Abdelrahman Fathalla, to discuss all things coffee and his plans for the coffee shop in the future.

When did you set-up Guillam and what was your vision behind the coffee house?
I worked in Investment Banking and felt that my work no longer inspired me. I was always very picky with my coffee and dreamed of opening a café; I wanted to create the type of café I would like to go to. We opened our first location on Gloucester Road in March 2020, just as the pandemic started. Thankfully what we were offering was distinct enough to resonate with the local community, and we gained a loyal following for our takeaway offering. We pride ourselves on the personal service we provide and the relationships we develop and nurture with our customers. This was invaluable during the pandemic. Many of our customers would tell us that the highlight of their day was to come to the café, say hi, and grab their coffee.

What drew you to Bayswater for your second location?
I absolutely fell in love with the building and the area. We’re on the corner of Moscow Road and St Petersburg place; several stunning and historic churches and synagogues on both streets give the area an aura of prestige and significance. It’s not the usual spot for a café, because it’s not on the main road, but I thought that our customers would love the space and the area and would be willing to take a detour and visit us, and I was right. We developed some fantastic relationships with the local community, who love the space and the area in between Notting Hill and Bayswater. Bayswater is also an incredible neighbourhood; there are so many fantastic shops and restaurants, it is close to the park and the local community is very dynamic and evolving. I am really looking forward to being part of the area in the long-term and am excited to see how The Whiteley redevelopment shapes Queensway and Bayswater with London’s first Six Senses hotel and new shops and restaurants.

What do you look for when sourcing your coffee and tea?
We are incredibly meticulous with the coffee and tea we source. We only purchase and stock single-origin speciality coffee. Speciality coffee exists through the dedication of the people who have made it their life’s work to continually make quality their highest priority; speciality can only occur when all of those involved in the coffee value chain work in harmony and maintain a keen focus on standards and excellence from start to finish. We take this a step further and only stock coffees that have been purchased from a single farm or cooperative. This enables our customers to experience the difference in flavour between coffees that grow on different farms in different countries. We always ensure that the coffee comes from a farm or a cooperate that has been paid a fair price for their coffee.

We work with an incredible third-generation family-run tea merchant business in Northern Ireland that source and supply us with our teas. We only use loose leaf teas at our cafés, which we brew at the optimum temperature and for the right duration before filtering the drink to provide the customer with the perfect cup of tea. Our tea partners are in complete alignment with our core principals of choosing high quality and sustainable teas and we work closely with them to ensure that our teas meet those standards.

What is next for Guillam?
We are continually looking to do things better; we want to improve every aspect of our business and always strive to enrich our customers’ experiences. We have been growing organically over the last two years, and we have a new café opening in Notting Hill Gate in late March, which will take our estate size to three locations. We’re very excited to open this new café, and we’ll be accelerating our growth plans as soon as we open this shop. We are working on plans to double our estate size before the end of the year and to start selling our unique selection of beans and teas online so that our lovely customers can enjoy the incredible selection we have in-store from the comfort of their homes.

To find out more click here.

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