Amber Meier Every Friday evening on El Punt Avui Televisió, Nicole chats with an English-speaking expat. For this month’s interview, she had a chat with Amber Meier, from La Fábrica in Girona.
Where are you originally from?
I am from Vancouver, I was born and raised on the West coast. My husband is from the East Coast. I met my husband in a cafe and moved to Girona together 10 years ago.
And why did you end up in Cataluna?
My husband is a professional cyclist. So we moved for his job when he went professional for a team which was called Garmin Slipstream. The base for the team was in Girona. They wanted the new riders especially to be there.
Does it feel like home now after 10 years?
It does, I can’t tell you the exact day it happened, but it just happens when you go back to the place you are from and you feel out of place. We usually go back once a year, then we try and convince friends and family to come to us once a year so we see them twice.
What is it that is so special about Girona?
A million things, but the one thing we love is the quality and pace of life.
Two years ago you started a new business venture, La Fábrica. A huge amount has changed since then but tell me what is La Fabrica?
More or less it is a cycle Cafe. The most important thing for us was to produce good coffee. There is no place in Girona (other than our two places) that locally sources their beans, roasts it fresh in house, produces it to exact grams/temperatures of extraction. And that was the number one thing we wanted to do.
Your husband has recently retired from cycling. But his huge passion, almost bigger than his love of the bike, is coffee. Is coffee as big a passion in your life?
No! For me it wasn’t so much about the coffee but more about the cafe. People say that Christian is the execution, he is the vision. And I am the heart, I am the customer service, I am the day to day.
Expresso Mafia is your second location where you roast your coffee and you can watch Christian roasting the coffee.
Yes, he is in there like a mad scientist watching roasting profiles. He appreciates people who want to learn and he likes showing people the process.
Where has La Fabrica gone since it first opened as two years ago you where only serving coffee.
It has been every bit for-filling as I thought it would be. You put your heart and soul in this thing that you are creating. It has been so humbling, people come from all over having read about us and every once in a while you need to take a moment and take it all in.
Had the original idea been when you first started La Fabrica that you would go on to open a second coffee shop?
No, La Fabrica was originally for me. Christian was still cycling when we opened La Fabrica and he had no plans of retiring back then. When La Fabrica started we where originally roasting our beans from a company in Barcelona but Christian wanted to start playing around with the roasting profiles. We started out with a 3kilo roaster and we where looking for a space to put it and so was born Expresso Mafia. We have since up graded the roaster to a larger one.
Do you know how much coffee you go through in a week?
70 kilos of coffee.
You two did not stop at the two coffee shops....
When we opened La Fabrica we got a large number of emails coming in from clients asking us if we knew where they could rent bikes from, asking us about accommodation, tours, guides etc. We realised that in Girona, the really high level boutique cycling experience was missing. So we thought we could offer a service no one else had and to a level for new clients. And thus The Service Course was born. It is a big base with everything under one roof, massage, showers, bikes, mechanic, open seven days away, guided rides with Christian, a boutique line of cycling clothes. It is great for locals and expats.
Although you are famous for your coffee your food has also become very popular, when you first started you didn’t have food.
You get driven to excel and grow. Our first thing was avocado on toast!
What is the secret to your success? You have grown so fast, three places in two years.
I have a great team behind me. Everything needs to be the same, consistency is huge. You have to be genuine. I am genially happy to see the customers come in every day. I try to build a relationships with everyone who come in.
The Service Course had a write up in the Telegraph (an English newspaper) and it said - Is this the Best Bike Shop in the World? What do you make of that?
That is crazy! There are a lot of bike shops in the world! The design was a huge thing. It isn’t just a shop where you buy a water bottle and leave, it is a story, it is personal and it all comes together in this space.