They say every great story either starts or ends with a coffee. However, this great story that you are about to read, is about how the love for coffee changed a life. This story is about Orkhan Ahmadov, the Founder and Owner of Ormado Kaffeehaus.
A native of Azerbaijan, Orkhan started off six years ago with no friends or connections in Germany to now owning an international coffee brand. His journey was filled with struggles, but what drove him to zeniths of success are his efforts and his unfaltering ambition of running a successful business.
We recommend that you read this story with a steaming hot cup of coffee for an added effect!
Life before Ormado Kaffeehaus
The journey from being a foreign student studying in Frankfurt Oder, a small town in Germany, to establishing an international German coffee brand, the journey wasn’t easy for Orkhan Ahmadov.
Born and raised in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, Orkhan did not have many opportunities to pursue. Belonging from a family of teachers and doctors, he dreamt of being a government officer while growing up. However, unable to clear the exams on the first attempt, Orkhan had to let go of his dream.
But his ambitions to achieve big made him try further and in 2014, he came to study master’s in Human Rights at the European University of Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) in Germany. “By this time, I knew that I didn’t want to become a government official, rather start my own business,” Orkhan expresses.
“For a foreign student who couldn’t speak German, finding a job was way more difficult for me,” Orkhan recalls the challenges he faced during his early days in Germany.
However, after searching for months, Orkhan got his first job in Berlin by the end of 2014. While switching from being a security guard to a delivery boy and working as a barista, Orkhan realized his interest in the food and restaurant industry. After working at Starbucks and local coffee shops, he finally found his niche – coffee. Now the next step was to learn the nitty-gritty of running a business.
“Play by the rules but be ferocious,” as American businessman Phil Knight said. And Orkhan realized this early while starting his journey of owning a business. Although he was already being attuned to living in Germany, he decided to explore few more locations suitable for his business.
With Turkish as his mother tongue and being fluent in Russian Orkhan zeroed on two more countries for his business venture – Russia and Turkey. After exploring Moscow and Istanbul, he decided Germany was a better place for him to start a business, especially for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Overcoming challenges, one coffee at a time
After moving to Berlin, registering the business was next on the radar for Orkhan. But this process, just like everything else in his journey, was no less than a challenge. As he had no money to hire lawyers and consultants, the process dragged on.
Finally, after a year spent in registration, building funds, buying equipment, and getting the premises ready, Orkhan opened his first coffee shop in Germany in December 2017.
While sharing his experience of owning a coffee shop and running it successfully, Orkhan didn’t shy away from talking about his mistakes during his early entrepreneurial days – “I would have invested much less money in my first coffee shop than I did, had I dealt with one supplier rather than ordering from several.”
He opened his first coffee shop in Berlin under his apartment at that time. The first few months, the shop was running in minus. But Orkhan’s passion and zeal to make it work pushed him forward. The founder himself stood behind the counter, made, and served coffee to customers.
“Lack of advertising and too many hot dishes in menu were key reasons we couldn’t see a rise in business at first,” Orkhan recalled. However, after hiring more employees and including other food options on the menu, Ormado Kaffeehaus grew in exponential numbers.
Ormado Kaffeehaus: An international journey
“Starting a franchisee was not my goal initially.” Orkhan said, “Drinking coffee had recently become popular in Baku. And a friend of mine wanted to open a coffee shop there.” For a coffee shop that was not on the founder’s agenda, Ormado Kaffeehaus today is one of the popular coffee shops in Baku and the first franchise in the international chain.
Talking about his franchise in his hometown Orkhan says, “The fact that Ormado Kaffeehaus is the first international franchisee owned by the native inspires confidence among customers in Baku. I sometimes visit my coffee shop in my hometown and serve the customers myself.”
After experiencing success with his first two coffee shops, Orkhan opened the third one at the Mall of Berlin with the brand’s rising popularity. The brand did not stop at coffee shops, but the first coffee roasting shop of the chain came a year later of the brand’s inception.
“The first coffee roasting shop was opened in a small town Gronau on the border of Austria”, Orkhan shared. Opening a business at such locations exempts taxes and further financial help for the business is provided by the German government.
This coffee roasting shop alone produces 10 tons of coffee a year, half of which serves the chain’s needs, and the remaining is sold to other coffee houses across Europe. While going international, being consistent with the taste and quality was essential for Orkhan. “It was important to maintain the same taste and authenticity across all the Ormado franchisees. So, the customers who loved the coffee at Ormado in Vienna will want to find it in Berlin as well” he said.