Introduce yourself (again).
Van Hilst Koffie en Thee started in 1999 as a specialty shop in coffee and tea in Nijmegen. Founders Cor van Hilst and Michiel Hautvast each have very different backgrounds.
For many years, Cor was the director of a homeless shelter in South-East Brabant. After his education at the conservatory, Michiel had already made a switch to Information and Communication Technology, before continuing with Cor in coffee and tea. For both, the passion for coffee, tea and entrepreneurship was the motivation to take a different tack.
From the opening, the store has been a phenomenon with long queues, especially in the run-up to Christmas. In those years, a specialty shop in coffee and tea was still relatively new. Within 5 years we already moved to a larger location and we had a team of 10 people. In addition to the store, we had a service department for Jura coffee machines and we repaired about 600 machines per year with our technician.
It remained busy even during the crisis years. Although it was attractive to open several locations, we have always opted for intensification and deepening and not for more shops. Your own product or organization can always be improved and there are plenty of challenges there.
At one point we were more concerned with management than with coffee and tea. In addition, the private situation had meanwhile become such that one of our parents needed informal care, which meant that we had moved to Zeeland in the meantime.
That combination was the prelude to the current small form.
Nowadays Van Hilst Kofifie en Thee is a webshop and we do everything ourselves again. This includes packing and sending all orders, customer contact, advice, etc. Our mission is also to show that a webshop can also be very personal.
Further deepening and specialization are now the things that concern us. We are always looking for special, pure coffee and teas. The training as a tea sommelier that Michiel is now following fits in with this and that adds knowledge and new experiences to our company.