Return to paradise for new Café owner

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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NEW OWNERSHIP: Coffee Bean café Manager and co-owner Andrew Padrana with his chef, Alofaifo Ah Chong and staff.

NEW OWNERSHIP: Coffee Bean café Manager and co-owner Andrew Padrana with his chef, Alofaifo Ah Chong and staff.

Setting a high standard for coffee making will never change at The Coffee Bean in Taimaligi.

But if you have noticed a slight change in the vibe and menu at the hot spot, then you would not be mistaken because the café is under new management and ownership.

Andrew Pedrana is the new café manager and co-owner of the café since the beginning of March. 

Born in Samoa to an Australian father and Samoan mother from the village Taga, Savaii, the Pedrana family moved to Melbourne when Andrew was six years old.

With a background in graphic design and marketing in Australia, the 36-year-old was looking for a change and a fresh start which ironically and unexpectedly led him back full circle to his place of birth — Samoa.

Just over a year ago, Mr. Pedrana and his partner decided to leave their jobs and travel around the Americas. Towards the end of their travels, Mr. Pedrana was about to start a new job teaching English in Columbia South America when those plans fell through.

 In a moment that can only be described as serendipitous, Mr. Pedrana received a call that would see the young Samoan go from South America back to his home in the South Pacific. 

“My cousin called and asked if I wanted to come to Samoa and manage a café, because she lives in Sydney.  She knew that I was travelling in Columbia, but she didn’t know that my job fell through. So it was like the stars sort of aligned so I thought why not?

“It wasn’t going to be long term it was just going to be about managing it for a bit, get it up and running for my cousin and then I’ll go home because I haven’t seen my family for over a year.

“Once I got here, I met Lufilufi Rasmussen and started working closely with her and learning the ins and outs of running a café. Then I thought, actually this is a pretty nice opportunity and so I made an offer to my cousin to go halves in it and now I’m living here.”

After almost a month, Mr. Pedrana has a menu that he is happy with and Coffee Bean will still maintain its all day breakfast which was its most popular feature. The new menu has elements to it that have been influenced by his travels through South America and he plans to continue his health journey by incorporating some healthy options.

“I’ve added in a couple of dishes that were my favourite with a South American theme such as chicken avocado quesadilla and the beef tacos. I plan to put more into it. For me, the food is important because there is where I eat,” he laughs. “So I want to make sure that the menu is on point and I’m trying to introduce a healthier menu as well.

“I’ve been on a low carb diet for the last year now and it changed my life in terms of my health, outlook, energy levels, everything. Before I went travelling I was in the confectionary business, I was quite overweight. I was at 110 kilos and I’m now sitting 80 kilos. I had to eat a lot of sweets at my job, taste testing was important to product development.

“The reason I left that industry was because it was unhealthy and my partner is a diabetic with type 1. We just both decided we needed to do something about our health and we’ve been on this low carb diet for a while and it’s changed our life.”

Andrew’s time spent travelling in South America may not have ended up in him being a teacher to young Columbians, but it certainly gave him the experience for a business venture in Samoa centered on coffee culture. 

Mr. Pedrana and business partner, Sherly Folasaitu are looking forward to growing the popular café. Mr. Pedrana in particular is excited about applying his marketing and product development skills to expand on the business. 

“The three principles of marketing are people, price and product. The menu and coffee is our product. I’m really happy with our people and I think our price is a good price, it’s not cheap, but it’s not expensive.”

Returning to paradise has had some challenges with Mr. Pedrana pointing out that living here is a lot different to coming here on holiday. But he is enjoys the challenge. When asked what his parents’ thought of his sudden and dramatic lifestyle/career change, Mr. Pedrana laughs and said: “They just couldn’t believe it. They were like ‘what?’ My mum said ‘I spent so long trying to get us off the island and now you’ve gone back’,” Mr. Pedrana laughs. 

“But my parents are having a good laugh about it and they are going to come and visit when everything is settled down. I don’t think they were too surprised.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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