More than just coffee for commuters at Mortlake Station
East Sheen’s commuters might have been without their early morning caffeine hit, had it not been for someone else’s tardiness, as Alen Mesic of CBM Coffee (previously Café Bar Mortlake) at Mortlake Station explains:
“I used to work for an antiques dealer along Portobello Road. There was a café bar outside our gallery, and one day the lady who usually ran it didn’t turn up. My boss was not happy, so I offered to help. I had no idea what I was doing, but I stepped in and got on with it. I guess you could say coffee was meant to be!”
Although Alen puts his spontaneous career change from antiques to coffee down to fate, it is clear that it’s his hard work and entrepreneurial spirit that has ensured the longevity of CBM coffee and made it a local success.
Alen first took over the franchise at Mortlake Station in 2003, when it was then part of the Puccinos chain. Unfortunately, like so many other small businesses, they went into administration in 2009. Although times were hard, Alen saw it as his opportunity to launch his own venture, and so CBM coffee was born. More recently, Alen has partnered with local estate agents, Savills, who marked their arrival in Sheen by sponsoring free Monday morning coffee and pastries provided by CBM Coffee. Although the free coffee has come to an end, the partnership still continues with Savills championing this local business and providing all of Alen’s coffee cups.
But it’s not just coffee, cappuccinos and lattes that CBM Coffee serves up.
Situated on the London bound platform at Mortlake Station, Alen offers a tempting array of attractively displayed refreshments, including favourites like the San Pellegrino range of drinks as well as on trend options like coconut water, aloe vera drinks, porridge pots and healthy snacks and flapjacks. And of course, an occupational hazard of Alen’s is that he’s got the train times down to a tee, and will always reassure scurrying commuters that they’ve got time to get their coffee, and their change!
“I probably know about 80 per cent of the people in Sheen. I’ll pop out to go to the bank and often bump into one of my customers. We start chatting, and before I know it time has gone and I still haven’t got to the bank! But, I love people; it’s the best thing about my job.”
And it’s not just people in East Sheen that Alen has a rapport with. Every year he gets a visit all the way from Cyprus. He explains: “A few years ago I got to know this man who had come to visit his family who live in East Sheen. He comes over once a year, and now every time he visits, he comes to see me too. And he always brings me a gift!”
Recently, Alen has started to venture out from his station base, providing refreshments at local events.
“It started with Sheen Mount Primary School who approached me and asked if I would put on a stall at their Christmas fair. They were pleased with how it went, and now word has got around and more and more local schools are asking for me.”
And it doesn’t stop there. Showing his entrepreneurial side once again, Alen is also a partner at the new bakery on Sheen Lane. While he is pragmatic about the future, he is also optimistic: “Sheen Lane is different to the high street; the footfall is different. It’s more unpredictable and there’s a lot of guesswork. Some days it’s really busy and others it’s very quiet. But there are lots of new shops that have opened, and there’s a real feeling that Sheen Lane is starting to happen now.”
CBM Coffee is open every day 6am-1pm and Saturdays 8am-1pm
If you would like to book Alen for your event, please contact him on 07921 869 947 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
© East Sheen Village – Feature kindly sponsored by Savills, East Sheen – Words by Jo Rippon – Pictures by Jacquie Duncan