How an Ex-Footballer Created a $30 Million Café Empire

Inglewood Coffee Roasters

Inglewood Coffee Roasters founder Julien Moussi drew inspiration from his travels when creating his Australian hospitality venues. He can’t wait to get back out there and taste the world with the Qantas Points he’s earning while growing his food and coffee empire.

When Aussie Rules player Julien Moussi injured his ACL playing for the VFL’s Box Hill Hawks in 2009, his sports career was in tatters. His personal training business wasn’t looking much brighter but a shot of inspiration led the then 21-year-old to a new business opportunity, working with Melbourne’s other great passion: coffee.

Julien Moussi of Inglewood Coffee Roasters

“A few weekends after I had my knee reconstruction, I asked the club’s general manager if I could make the coffees at games,” recalls the hospitality entrepreneur. “That’s how I started the business.” 

Soon Moussi was managing a team of coffee carts at weekend footy matches, athletic meets and boat shows but his end goal was always to open his own bricks-and-mortar store. It took three years to save up the money for that first café. Another followed in 2013 and in the eight years since, he’s opened 23 more venues (and sold nine) in Melbourne suburbs, like Fitzroy and Malvern, and all the way to Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast. Moussi’s Only Hospitality Group now generates revenue of over $30 million a year. 

The most significant move, however, was opening his own coffee roasting facility – Inglewood Coffee Roasters – in mid-2017. “We had five or six stores at that time and roasted roughly 300 kilos a week for our venues,” says Moussi. “With so much demand just from our own venues that was enough for Inglewood Coffee Roasters to start cash-flow positive before we sought more customers.” 

Inglewood Coffee Roasters

Inglewood was selling wholesale by the end of that year and currently supplies more than 100 cafés around the country from the Coburg North roastery. Add in a swiftly growing ecommerce site selling beans and a new line of coffee pods direct to the public and Inglewood now roasts up to six tonnes of coffee a week. In fact, the business is growing so fast they’re set to move to new premises and are securing new equipment with dramatically increased capacity.  

“Using our American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card, we recently paid the deposit for a much bigger roaster from the US, which is going to help us quadruple our volume,” Moussi says.

He initially got the Card for the bonus Qantas Points but soon discovered a service he could access through the Card that “makes it easy to pay for any international transactions.”

Thanks to AccessLine™ – American Express’ simple and secure payment solution – he’s able to pay suppliers almost anywhere in the world, even if they don’t accept Card payments³, and earns 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on these international payments.⁵

As the Card provides an unsecured line of funding with no pre-set spending limit², it’s been useful for large payments, including the deposit on that $400,000 roaster. “That means a lot of Qantas Points!” says Moussi. “And with up to 51 days to pay for purchases, it takes the pressure off cash-flow.”⁴

“Now we pay for all our green coffee beans with the Card and we earn Qantas Points in other ways as well.  And by paying with our Card, we earn points twice – through the store and also through the Card.”

As a result, the business’s points balance has grown rapidly; since joining the Qantas Business Rewards program a year ago, Inglewood has accumulated a whopping 700,000 Qantas Points. 

Moussi hopes to use them to send his purchasing staff to visit farms in Africa and South America as soon as international travel resumes. “When COVID-19 hit, they’d just got back from Tanzania and Rwanda. Now we’re stockpiling points for when the borders open again.

Julien Moussi of Inglewood Coffee Roasters

“My wife and I will use them when we go travelling, too,” he adds. “We try to do a trip to Europe once a year.” 

When they do, he invariably comes back with new ideas for the business. “There’s a small coffee place called Abuelo, next to the hotel we stayed at in London, that did this amazing fig and mascarpone on toast – it’s like a dessert breakfast but really fresh and now we have something similar on our menu. It seems simple but sometimes you need to be relaxed and travelling in a different environment to be inspired.”

Julien Moussi’s top business tips

Be a smart buyer: “Do due diligence and audit your suppliers regularly to make sure you’re not overpaying for things. Being a good buyer also means being smart enough to generate rewards such as Qantas Points through the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card. That way you can spend, get rewarded and holiday more economically.”

Develop a good workplace culture: “Ensuring you have a healthy work culture is so important. You’d be amazed what you can achieve if everyone is happy and motivated in their job but that means you need to be really aware of your surroundings and know how your team is feeling.”

Inglewood Coffee Roasters

Treat your suppliers fairly: “Everyone you do business with has to earn a crust. If you’re trying to buy something so cheap that the other person doesn’t make money, then the relationship is going to fail. But if you treat each other well, you’ll both prosper.”

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