If you walk into the Queens Street Arcade, before taking the stairs into the St David’s Shopping centre you’ll be met by the bright colours and busy staff of Bubblebase, the very first bubble tea café in Wales.
In 2012 bubble tea was nearly unheard of in Wales, with the tea alternative only being adopted in its founding country Taiwan. Fast forward to today where over 11 bubble tea cafes now populate Cardiff’s city centre alone, appealing largely to teenagers and young adults.
Since 2012 the global bubble tea market has grown to 2.02 billion USD with a projected 3.39 billion value by 2027. Such a growing market presents a business opportunity for those looking to offer something alternative in their local area, and that remains the case today.
Bubble tea is a unique spin on traditional tea, with a range of other names such as ‘boba’, ‘boba tea’ and ‘boba juice’ being associated with the drink. The drink is famous for its versatility as it can be made to be vegan and uses various ingredients such as fruit powder, tapioca and grass jelly.
Cardiff local Kishan Varsani was the very first entrepreneur to fill the bubble tea gap in the Welsh market after first discovering his love for the drink while on holiday in Singapore. The pioneering drinks enthusiast now has ambitious growth plans despite setbacks from lockdowns and more recently the cost-of-living crisis.
“During the lockdowns our focus turned to our online ordering app which was a life saver at the time. Now the biggest threat is falling footfall as shoppers become more scarce in the wake of rising energy bills” – Kishan, founder of Bubblebase explains.
When asked how he plans to overcome these challenges, Kishan focused on quality of product and customer service.
“We’ve persevered through a lot of competition growing in the area, the lockdowns and other logistic issues, but we’ve kept on going thanks to the same dedication to authentic quality ingredients and exceptional customer service” Kishan explained.
“Cardiff is a diverse and vibrant city, seeing the smiles on customers faces who come from all walks of life who often share their stories – there’s nothing better”
In 2021 Cardiff had 72.14% higher business openings than closures with the capital seeing 3,460 start-ups compared to 2,010 business deaths. The cause of which is largely down to increasing inbound investment, knowledge retention and the rise of startup incubators. When asked for his best advice to anyone looking to open a drinks or hospitality business in Wales, Kishan replied “The drinks market is huge and growing, so this could be the best time to start your new line of coffees or soft drinks”.
“Start with research. Research your target market, then get the training in regards to your profession”.
“From there, it’s focusing on the back end of your business and having a great system in place – be it with regards to your team, equipment, policies and procedures. This will ensure you maintain a level of return customers, from then on it’s focusing on delivering the best customer service”.
With 7.2% market growth expected over the next 5 years, the drinks industry still serves as a huge opportunity for budding entrepreneurs and beverage enthusiasts. When asked about future growth plans, Kishan excitedly responded:
“We are in the process of looking for a suitable new store to grow into and offer some great additional products for our customers that they may have never tried before. We’d love to have a space where we host events and are inviting anyone who might know a suitable premise to come forward”.
What you can expect when visiting Bubblebase:
● A wide selection of refreshingly tasty bubble tea in several unique flavour combinations & toppings, as well as a range of coffee, smoothies and delicious snacks straight from South-East Asia.
● Only the best quality ingredients
● Vegan-friendly and gluten free options
● Service with a smile
For more information on Bubblebase, visit https://www.bubblebase.co.uk/.
About Bubblebase: Established in 2012, Bubblebase is a proudly independent, family-run bubble tea and espresso bar in St. David’s, Cardiff and the very first of its kind in Wales. The brand strives to put their local Welsh community at the heart of the business and aims to continue to deliver the highest quality of service to them