It’s not your average coffee shop. Over Under Coffee let their employees host their own art exhibitions, they gave coffees away for free (for a week!) and they don’t accept cash. We asked them why.

A creative culture

– I don’t want people who work for Over Under Coffee just “showing up”. I want everyone to buy into the culture and contribute to the direction of the business, says founder Ed Barry.

What does that mean though?

– If you have an idea – and it resonates with some of our brand values, I’m all in for it. Many of our baristas are very creative people who work as artists and photographers outside work – so we created a kind of performance, “café sessions”, where we let them put up their art in the shop. It was an immediate hit!

Ed Barry of Over Under Coffee. Photographed in December 2017.

Ditching cash

The independent speciality coffee shop Over Under Coffee opened in Earl’s Court in February 2017, strongly influenced by the New Zealand coffee culture where Ed Barry’s family is from.

– Way too many coffee shops take too long to make the coffee, then they neither crack a smile nor strike up a conversation. That’s not Over Under Coffee.

As a consequence of Ed’s striving to serve his customers better, and faster – he considered ditching payments by cash early on.

– We put up a sign outside our location in Earl’s Court where we encouraged people to pay by card. We quickly found that 90‒95% of them paid by card – even though we also asked every customer if they were okay with paying by card. We wanted to get an understanding of whether our customers were ready for it.

To any skeptical customers, Ed and his team explained the reasoning behind plastic of over cash preference.

– It’s kind of logical – it’s more hygienic, we make fewer mistakes between the counter and the kitchen, our till balances every day and it’s more secure not having to deal with cash and take it to the bank. Our customers understood, especially tourists.

5 benefits of going cashless

Speed up. The £30 limit for contactless payments makes the majority of all our transactions contactless – which further speeds up queues, and makes tired morning customers get their sought-after caffeine kick faster.

Improve hygiene. Anyone working in hospitality knows it; when you’re dealing with food it’s a hassle having money close to the product. After we went cashless, it’s something we don’t have to think about.

Go home earlier. On busy weekdays it turned out that we sometimes pressed the cash button instead of the credit button (they were placed so close to each other in the point-of-sale), and then it was so easy to forget to refund it. Only taking card payments improves accuracy and makes a huge difference at the end of every day. I mean now, our till always balances! It makes it easier to do the accounts every week and every day and we don’t waste time reconciling receipts.

Don’t fear theft. There will always be opportunistic people out there, some of them might end up working for you. It has luckily never happened to us at Over Under, but since we became a 100% cashless business there are no opportunities to steal or take money, and thus no need for us to worry about it.

Spare the environment. We offer printed receipts if anyone asks for it – but in 9 out of 10 cases, we just email it to the customer. Going cashless has made it so much easier, both for the business and the customer. He or she gets the receipt straight to their phone.

Free coffee

After a three month trial period, Ed and the growing Over Under crew made the final decision to go fully cashless.

– We tied us going cashless in with the opening of this new location (in Soho). And we did a whole week of free coffee to get our name out there.

Holy…!

– Yep, we had queues out the doors for like 25 minutes. You’ve got to make a name for yourself. When giving them away, we also let everyone know that we would go cashless. It’d become a differentiator for us – in addition to the friendly and progressive image of Over Under Coffee.

– We’re not reinventing the wheel. At Over Under Coffee we’re just trying to do what others out there are doing better, Ed Barry summarises, and emphasises how much he values his chef Connie Grossman and the growing team of “Barry-istas”…

Over Under Coffee accepts payments with iZettle. “It’s just like a plug and play payment system, ready in a couple of minutes and integrating straight into our accounting system”, confirms Ed Barry.