Feature: Business is still brewing at Tiki’s

Amy Michie and Josh Chafer in The Brew Room, Hemel Hempstead.
Amy Michie and Josh Chafer in The Brew Room, Hemel Hempstead.

Cafe run by a young entrepreneur is going from strength to strength, and we’re not just talking coffee.

At a time when headlines about the demise of the high street are dominating national news, any independent business managing to get by is a success story.

But in Hemel Hempstead, far from scraping along, one stand-alone coffee shop is going from strength to strength.

Owned and run by 25-year-old Amy Michie, Tiki’s in the town centre has been serving cappucinos, lattes, espressos and all manner of teas and treats for around three and a half years.

After taking over when Amy was just 21 years old, the staff number has more than tripled from a team of just three to now having 10 friendly baristas.

The growth doesn’t stop there – Amy and the team continue to improve the range of items on offer for their loyal customer base and now have almost doubled the floorspace by expanding into the first floor.

Dubbed The Brew Room, the upstairs coffee lounge is a kids-free zone designed to appeal to adults who want a relaxing cuppa, and really want to appreciate the variety of blends on offer.

While families with little ones can still make use of the child-friendly play area downstairs, The Brew Room has a more old-fashioned feel complete with a gramophone-style music speaker and an eclectic mix of furniture which Amy says is sourced from antique fairs, eBay and even a neighbour.

An impressive bespoke worktop and high seating bar carved from solid wood were the new venue’s most expensive purchases.

Amy, who lives in Leighton Buzzard, said: “It was an empty space that I was paying rent on, but wasn’t getting any use out of, so I thought I would introduce a new concept.

“Being up here is quite nice and relaxed. People really appreciate the fact that there are no children up here, they can get away from that side of things – even parents themselves when they have a bit of free time.”

The Brew Room offers artisan blends and is more coffee-focused than the downstairs zone, which also offers a range of sandwiches, paninis and cakes, as well as handmade sweets and chocolates.

The businesswoman says it can be hard to compete with the country’s top coffee chains – with a Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero all in close walking distance from her unique venue.

She said: “There’s a massive competition in this town.

“I think people come here because we’re different, because we’re independent and we’re nice – we are very service-driven.

“It’s a more personal service than you get in the bigger chains – we don’t get people’s names or orders wrong, we like to talk to people and get to know them better.

“I’d say about 70-80% of our customers come here regularly.”

One of the most impressive parts of Tiki’s newest venture is the ceiling – a veritable Sistine Chapel among coffee houses.

Amy spotted the idea for the multi-coloured, patchwork design on Pinterest and recreated it with fabrics and wallpaper stuck on to the existing ceiling tiles.

Talking of the renovation process, she said: “I loved doing it – I really enjoyed the process.

“The ceiling took the longest, but I am really pleased with it all.

“Once the building work on the Marlowes outside has finished, and especially when Spring comes, this whole area will look great and The Brew Room will be a nice place to sit and look out over it all. I’m feeling really positive about it.”

Search TiKi’s and The Brew Room on Facebook to like the pages and get latest updates – or pop down for a brew!