From dorm room to coffee shop

Henry

Lara Jordaan from Worcester in the Western Cape has always had a passion for cooking. However, she would never have dreamed that her venture selling iced coffees, smoothies and milkshakes from her high school dorm room would be the first step to opening her own coffee shop just a few years later.

Lara’s Coffee Shop in Worcester is a popular destination for residents and tourists. Here she likes to listen to people’s stories about how far they have traveled to visit this unique coffee shop, while they nibble on a variety of freshly baked goods.

The 23-year-old businesswoman’s interest in business and passion for baking started at a young age and she has always dreamed of opening her own restaurant.

“In high school I just used a cheap mixer and later started making a wider variety of drinks. I am firmly convinced that my passion for entrepreneurship started there,” he says tongue in cheek.

After school, she obtained a diploma in restaurant management at the Private Hotel School in Stellenbosch and completed her practical work at the Lanzerac wine estate in Stellenbosch.

However, it didn’t take her long to realize that her interest lay behind the coffee machine. She was so fascinated with the variety of coffee techniques she could apply to each brew, that in her spare time she learned new techniques through YouTube videos.

Jordaan admits that she has always had a dream and vision for her own coffee shop.

In 2021, at the age of 21, she started her own mobile coffee shop, LARA’s Coffee Bar.

“My family saw the potential and helped me fund the mobile coffee shop. As I started to make a profit, I systematically started paying my parents back.”

She says that initially the mobile coffee shop was a disaster and she strongly considered giving up many times. However, when she got her foot in the door to sell coffee at functions and sporting events on weekends, her head was clear. She even served coffee at actor couple Bennie Fourie and Mila Guy’s wedding in April last year.

Thanks to the profit she made with the mobile coffee shop, she was able to open a full-fledged coffee shop last year.

“When I walk into Lara’s, I feel safe and happy. You smell from coffee beans to freshly baked goods. I would like it to be a place for everyone where they can come and relax and feel at home.”

Her advice to budding entrepreneurs is to never lose sight of your dream.

“No matter how impossible it sounds or how uncertain you are about your future path, it is important to go back to your vision and dream.” She says it is also important to be consistent with your product and put in the necessary hours.