For Bassam Khalaf and his co-founders at De Ra Coffee, coffee is more than a morning beverage. It’s a way of life, a representation of culture. The cafe is serving up drinks with roots in Yemen, Kashmir, the Middle East, and the Arabian Gulf area that you can’t find anywhere else in DFW! We spoke with Bassam, Coffeepreneur®, about the unique business concept behind De Ra as well as the hybrid model they’re employing with Chef Sam’s Kitchen & Catering.
P.S. De Ra Coffee is even extending the coffee shop’s hours during the month of Ramadan, honoring guests who participate in the religious practice.
How did De Ra Coffee come to life?
Before Bassam became a coffee shop co-founder, he had a background in management, marketing, and a little bit of hospitality. He also runs a creative design company. In fact, he built the De Ra Coffee brand from scratch, including the interior design, colors, and so on.
Bassam was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, where the term “de ra” is common. “It means hometown,” he explains. “People might say things like, ‘I’m going to visit my Deera.’”
Source: De Ra Coffee Facebook
De Ra Coffee opened February 2nd, 2023, in the North Texas town of Plano in a prime location. It’s the only coffee shop for several miles. And with a school nearby, there’s a steady flow of traffic in the morning and at lunch time. Bassam describes one customer who comes by twice a day for a signature latte!
Bassam and his two partners—a CPA and an operations leader—spent a year looking for a location with good traffic and reasonable rent. He also attended three Texas Coffee School classes, one of which was our 3-Day Coffee Business Master Class. They’ve gone on to hire and train several baristas using the information they learned.
As Bassam says, “This is the first location. We’re aiming to have the second by the end of the year, and maybe 10 locations in three to four years.” He dreams of owning many more branches to come.
What challenges has De Ra Coffee faced?
Like most entrepreneurial endeavors, starting De Ra Coffee didn’t come without its challenges. The shop originally planned to open three months earlier, but the team faced unexpected problems with the plumbing, electricity, and structure of the space. There were also supply chain and permit delays.
Once the coffee shop opened, they had a hard time finding experienced baristas—even after they bumped up the hourly rate. So they opted to train new baristas instead.
Bassam also notes that spring break was a slow week, so he began brainstorming ideas for summer. Ideas might include hosting events and a coffee cart.
What’s on the menu at De Ra Coffee?
De Ra Coffee is a specialty coffee, and they offer different coffee beans each month from different regions for the pour over. Also, they’re serving Adani Chai from Yemen, a chai latte from Kashmir, Arabic coffee from the gulf area, and Turkish coffee.
De Ra also has three signature lattes: the De Ra latte (Latte with cardamom and date), D-stachio latte (Latte with real pistachio sauce), and Spanish latte (The most popular latte that has white chocolate and sweetened milk). They also make signature pastries, desserts, and sandwiches.
Source: De Ra Coffee Facebook
Who are some of De Ra’s customers?
With the location right next to a high school, De Ra’s lunch time hours are packed with high school students enjoying a beverage, snacks, and some down time. Folks also come to the cafe to study, work, have meetings, and host events. Recently, De Ra hosted an event for Plano ISD. (Getting involved in the community is one of our tips for a 2023 coffee shop marketing plan!)
De Ra’s owners didn’t advertise for the first few months of being open—they wanted to see what organic traffic came through. They were able to reach their Q1 goals in that way.
Tell us about the hybrid model!
If you were to peek in the back of De Ra’s venue, you’d notice another business leveraging the full-size kitchen—catering. Chef Sam’s Kitchen & Catering makes dual purpose of the former restaurant space and integrates a hybrid-model business.
Chef Sam’s serves a hot lunch option to nearby high school students (and others) every day. The catering service also offers a menu for events and parties, as well as food pick-up. For Ramadan, they hosted big dinners each day and booked meals for over 1,000 people.
Coffee shops with a hybrid model might be the way of the future, especially as the coffee industry grows and becomes more competitive. By bringing in extra revenue while using the same retail space as the coffee shop, Bassam and his team can produce a greater return on investment!
Source: Chef Sam’s Instagram
Next time you’re in Plano, be sure to check out De Ra Coffee’s specialty menu. And if you come at lunch time, you might even be able to snag a hot lunch from Chef Sam’s.
Plus, sign up for the 3-Day Coffee Business Master Class that helped Bassam kickstart the business!