Sandows

Baristas Mean Business: Sam Read and Frideswide O'Neill

Baristas Mean Business: Sam Read and Frideswide O'Neill

At Sandows we're proud of our roots. Launched from a basement in Hackney whilst holding down our barista jobs, Sandows is a side hustle gone wild. Although our days of trading shifts for space to brew cold brew coffee are behind us, we remember them fondly. Our latest series, Baristas Mean Business looks to celebrate other people working in coffee doing something special on the side.

When Sam and Frideswide aren't working at Hourglass Cafe, they’re running Kroket (www.kroket.co). Operating from a mobile food truck, Kroket specialises in french croquettes, serving them up with house pickles, homemade mayos, and flavoured salts. Unlike Spanish potato croquettes, French-style croquettes made from a pure béchamel sauce base, making them oozy, cheesy, and melty.  We sat down with Sam to find out how their side hustle was born, why he thinks keeping upbeat is important for success, and the challenge of working at their first festival. 

Where were you when inspiration struck?

It's something that we talked about for a while until I just said we needed to do it. When you talk about something enough you become comfortable, even in love with the idea but not getting anywhere with it. We just wanted to see whether it would fly, and we still don't know yet but it's still a fun journey finding out whether your idea has legs or not. 

Your greatest stunt - tell us about a time you pulled something amazing off?

Our first festival for sure. Working within extreme time constraints to fit out a beaten-up horse trailer with a full serving set up, towed by a powerful enough 4x4, putting the team together, getting the croquette quality to the standard we wished... to make that happen really tested the strength of our companionship. Challenge after challenge after challenge and often no end in sight! It's hard to keep your goal in mind when things are really tough, but you have to keep going. And we did. 

Most memorable all-nighter on the job?

If you're doing festivals, it's an all-5 dayer. You have to enjoy the festival as well as the work that you do there. You came to be a part of it, so be a part of it, adding not just to what's on offer in food or drink but adding to the energy of the place. I also help out a friend's company selling coffee at festivals and it’s a pretty extraordinary feeling serving coffee and chatting to the people you were dancing with the night before...all without going to bed! 

Biggest fuck up?

Most of the maintenance and heavy lifting stuff falls to me as Frides is the brains and talent behind the operation... so on our maiden voyage I reversed our 2.5 ton horse trailer out of our drive, only to watch the front two wheels almost slip of their rims because the tires were near flat and the load too heavy. It was one of those moments where I realised I had almost let the side down, that was all on me and I hadn't covered it. It didn't happen though, I pumped up the tires and we sited at our first festival without a hitch after that, so we were lucky. 

You can go for a coffee with anyone living or dead, who do you choose and what do you ask them?

Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, he'd probably be drinking tea but there are so many things he said way back when that makes too much sense in our busy metropolitan lives now. 

What are two traits that have helped you in your hustle, and one quality you'd love to develop?

Getting stuff done, no matter the cost and being upbeat about all the challenges that we don't see coming. I could always be a lot more understanding to Frides, I'm not the best communicator and my mind jumps steps that I think others have taken with me.

What has taken the most courage so far?

Making the mistakes that you know you're going to make, and being ok with that. 

Top tip for keeping the plates spinning?

Sleep and relax and try not to feel guilty while you do it. Downtime is as important as the rest of it. If you can't enjoy the journey and laugh along the way, why are we doing any of this? 

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

Stop being so serious and be a lot weirder. 

Check out Kroket at www.kroket.co and give their Insta a follow @kroketco

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