1. Please tell us about who you are and what you do.
I’m Catalin Modorcea – marketer, community builder and more recently, founder of xpresscups.
We’re a new specialty coffee brand with a mission to teach the romanian market all about coffee and its preparation as we deliver subscription boxes containing freshly-roasted specialty coffee to a local community of coffee lovers in Bucharest and beyond.
2. Share your backstory with us. How did your business or organisation come about and what was it that switched you on to this area in the first place?
I first decided that I want to one day own my own company back when I was in high school. What I didn’t want, however, was to be an underprepared entrepreneur.
For almost 7 years now, I’ve been working closely with entrepreneurs in several countries on their marketing strategy and execution, until I finally felt ready to start something of my own.
I decided to start a business in the specialty coffee industry because I’m really passionate about coffee. It’s been a daily habit of mine for several years now and I always say that I’m happily addicted to coffee.
In other words, it’s a business that caters to my own needs too and this is what helps me get the customer satisfaction part just right.
We only sell coffee we ourselves love and the subscription service is designed in a way that I myself would find appealing if I were to have found it elsewhere.
3. What do you think or hope the future has in store for you and your business? Where do you see yourself or your organisation five years from now?
It’s hard to put a timeline on ambitious goals, especially when the brand is new so you have very little data to base your projections on, but broadly speaking, we want to become among the best known specialty coffee names in the capital first, and later in the country.
What I hope the future has in store for us is that we succeed in our guiding objective, which is to educate the Romanian coffee drinking market about just what makes specialty coffee so special and how you can brew it to enjoy its flavours to the fullest, every single day at home or at work.
4. How has lockdown been for you and for your business and what have you done that has helped you personally and professionally?
We actually launched our business during the lockdown period. We’re an online service that delivers freshly roasted coffee to our customers at home, so we can operate during lockdowns, too.
5. What’s your take on Bucharest and Romania. What are the highs and the lows in your opinion?
I think the best part about Bucharest is that, as I see it, it’s the most progressive city in the country.
There are many, many things to fix, of course, but there are a lot of great people in this city working on very interesting projects and businesses.
The best part about Romania in general, again in my mind, is the mountainside. Our country becomes very beautiful, very fast once you leave the city and start driving towards higher altitudes.
In terms of the lows in Bucharest, I would definitely have to say it’s the traffic. Leaving the conversation about infrastructure aside for a moment, I think we could really stand to benefit from a bit of a cultural change in this respect.
We think it’s okay to use our horns and yell at people far more often than it is actually necessary for us to use our horns and yell at people.
I would love to see a calmer culture prevail in the streets of our capital one day.
6. What is your must do/must visit/favorite thing to do or show off to visitors here in Bucharest and Romania at large?
In Bucharest, I would recommend just going out and trying our local food and beverage scene.
In my experience, people in the city are very friendly and welcoming of visitors and when you’re travelling anywhere, I find that trying the local flavours and going out to the better places to eat really makes your memory of the country you’re visiting more vivid and unique.
In Romania at large, just explore the countryside. It’s really beautiful, especially during summer and autumn.
If you’re not staying long or are not able to travel very far from Bucharest, then Sinaia, Brasov and Fundata would be my top recommendations.
I particularly enjoyed staying at Hotel Pestera, near Sinaia and if you want to try something different, maybe consider a glamping experience at Dragonfly Gardens in Brasov.
7. What is your number 1 recommendation now for a book/film/series/app/ or gadget?
Well my big focus right now is coffee so I’m reading The World Atlas of Coffee, by James Hoffmann, which I’m enjoying.
The book I most often recommend to just about anyone is Principles, by Ray Dalio, followed by Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari.
My current favorite app for time management and project management is Notion, which I recommend – and I’ve tried arguably most of the good ones.
My favorite gadget is the Alexa Echo Dot. Probably my all-time favorite series is The Office and a movie is just too hard to choose.
8. If you could eat in any restaurant in all of Romania and have dinner with anyone in the world (not a husband/wife/relative) which restaurant would that be and with which person?
The best dining experience I’ve had so far was at KANE (at their new location in Bucharest) so I would choose that.
As for who I would want to have dinner with, well, if I’m going to dream, I like to dream big so I would go with Mr. and Mrs. Obama – not because of any political inclinations (in fact I prefer to avoid talking about politics) but just because it’s hard to think of a more memorable setting for a dinner.
9. Sum up your business in one sentence, what it is and why should people engage with it.
A subscription service and brand created for people who really love coffee as a daily habit.
10. Describe your Romania in one word.