Kazakh Entrepreneur Brings Local Experience to Running Coffee Business in New York City

NUR-SULTAN – Adema Torebek, a Kazakh entrepreneur, opened her second coffee-tea shop in New York, US, just a month ago gaining experience from a local business in Kazakhstan.

Entrance to the coffee shop.

Torebek opened her first coffee shop in Nur-Sultan back in 2017 during the EXPO 2017. Although she had an education in law, she chose a different path for her career and started a business in the specialty eatery industry. She was inspired by the Almaty coffee shops she used to visit during her student years and decided to open one to capture that nostalgia. 

“Back then, we received interesting orders. There were cakes meter by meter. I liked it. Previously, I did not know anything about this type of business. But I felt that I had an entrepreneurial streak,” she said.

In 2018, Torebek decided to attend language courses before studying in Le Cordon Bleu culinary and hospitality school in London. For family reasons, she chose to try a language school in New York and loved the city. 

The entrepreneur decided to pursue the idea of opening a business in New York. After getting her degree as a pastry chef, she went back and forth to Nur-Sultan and New York. In 2020, despite the global pandemic, she came to New York with a plan to start her business. 

American musician Machine Gun Kelly, actress and model Megan Fox and Adema Torebek in the coffee shop.

“I found a place to lease in Manhattan first, but it didn’t work out… It was very big and painstaking work (to open a business). Morally difficult. In Kazakhstan, it was easier. Later, I decided to find another place in Soho (Lower Manhattan)… It is the heart of the fashion industry. I loved the new place,” she said. 

The entrepreneur also focused on tea rather than coffee, referring to Kazakh’s love for tea and filling a gap in a market predominantly focused on coffee. 

“I didn’t find a wide variety of tea here like in Kazakhstan. When I order fruit tea, for example, I just get a tea bag rather than (tea full with natural ingredients like fruits),” she said. 

Torebek emphasized her admiration of the Kazakh people’s openness and flexibility, especially in the service industry. 

“Thanks to my parents, I was raised open-minded and curious, and I believe many Kazakh people are like this,” she said. “I’m proud that many Kazakh people here have higher education, it really influences their worldview.” 

The entrepreneur did the design of the coffee shop herself, putting her travel experiences into it. 

“I traveled a lot. I got inspiration from it… it is important for me to enjoy being in a place myself. If I am a customer, I’d also enjoy being there… I think I also get inspiration from Kazakh taste in food and basically, the preferences of Kazakh customers. They are picky,” she said. 

The name of the coffee shop is in the Kazakh language, It’s Torebek’s name. It grabs the attention of people, especially “homelanders” from Kazakhstan.

For now, she is not yet making her own pastries for her coffee shop and orders them from local organic businesses in Brooklyn. 

“In the future, I want to open a network of coffee shops and start baking pastries myself and design cakes,” said the entrepreneur. 

“Don’t be afraid and go for your dreams. Believe in yourself and be a pride for your country wherever you are,” concluded Torebek addressing the Kazakh youth.

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