Coffee Shop Dream to Coffee Shop Reality

It’s not every day you speak to a Finance Director who’s handed her notice in to follow her lifelong passion to set up her own coffee company, along with her partner, but today was one of those magical days. Enter Claire and Mark, entrepreneurs finding their new career in making premium coffee from the cozy and unique Henri, their beloved Citroen HY van. Café Allez! was born.  Their companion on this journey? 200 Degrees Coffee Roasters of course. 


Claire says “My passion has always, from a teenager, been to own a coffee shop - it's been there since the beginning.“ It’s with this passion that Claire fanned the coffee flames within Mark, her partner, leading them both to taking the brave step of handing in their notice and becoming their own bosses.    


But let’s take a step back because before making this momentous decision to control their own future one of their friends introduced them to a lovely guy who was coffee obsessed called Tom.  That would be Tom, co-owner of one of Nottingham’s best loved coffee shops (if we do say so ourselves); 200 Degrees. 


Claire and cycling lover Mark had heard of 200 Degrees before experiencing us – but from the first taste they were sold. Claire describes the rest of the 200 Degrees ‘package’ that followed as “the icing on the cake.” From support at the end of the phone whenever she needed it, to attending three free training courses to ensure they were both experts in getting the best out of 200 Degrees beans, even sourcing their cakes and hot chocolate.  Tom supplied ample reassurance and let his team pass on their knowledge of the world of coffee and general help in setting up a café business.     


Henri their lovable and cheeky van was even given a trip to the roast house so they could learn on their very own coffee machine, with our top baristas and roast house staff. “The Roast house experience was brilliant” beams Claire, clearly enjoying the sights, sounds and wonderful smells, along with the team’s amazing training skills.


“The name Café Allez!,” Claire explains, “came from ‘allez’ being the shout of encouragement at the Tour De France.” This links with Mark’s keen joy of cycling and the French theme continues with the fact “…Henri is a Citroen HY van, who's just slightly older than ourselves”.


Claire and Mark have all the hallmarks to have fantastic success.  Passion, dedication, Henri their beloved van, compostable cups, great products, a super human support team at 200 Degrees and a focus on “quality and politeness; they are paramount” to their premium experience, says Claire. 


I ask of plans for the future and a glint in Claire’s eye indicates there’s more to come.  She lets a little out.  “We’d love to partner with more with corporate customers – we think we’re uniquely placed to bring a fantastic coffee shop experience directly to their businesses, maybe as a welcome perk for their staff or as a ‘thank you’ for their customers.  Also in the future, with 200 Degrees, we're looking at batch brewing (a form of high quality filter coffee) and employing a few more people. Who knows, a shop may happen too!”  When Claire says ‘the future’ it turns out she means this Friday, in the Roast House with owner Tom.


Currently Claire, Mark and Henry can be found at Belvoir Castle every weekend into May, along with several local sporting events, especially cycling related ones (Mark loves escaping on his bike with the boys of a weekend).  Their schedule moves quickly but they always publish their plans on the Cafe Allez! Facebook page.  For a regular visit to Café Allez! visit the horse racing events at Leicester Race Course, that'll keep them busy with 30 events this year!

Facebook Page: @cafeallez

Instagram: cafeallez



Do you want to be part of the coffee revolution, or make more of your current coffee business?

If you’re looking for free advice on setting up a café business, or already have one that you think could do with a shot of caffeine in the arm, regardless of size we can help.  Contact Tim Moss at or call on 0115 837 4849.