Carroux Caffee

A Rich Aroma of Success

The focus for Carroux Caffee is the quality of their product: the coffee. Using Apple technology simplifies the IT function and frees employees to engage with customers.

“Smart solutions have a magical attraction for me. For me, Apple is a success story that has developed with me over the years.”

Ulrich Carroux, Founder, Carroux Caffee

The timing is critical. In the middle of his café in Hamburg, Ulrich Carroux stands at his drum roaster and waits for the signal. The rich, dark aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans curls through the air, one step closer to becoming the top-quality espresso for which Carroux is nationally renowned.

He is surrounded by the tools of his trade: his roaster, four blends of coffee, his MacBook, iPhone and iPad. In this instance, the iPhone supplies the alarm to tell Carroux the roasting has finished, while the iPad acts as the shop’s cash register.

“It’s a small store, just 40 square metres, and we wanted a smarter, more elegant alternative to the standard cash register,” he explains. The solution is the Cashy-POS app on Carroux’s iPad, linked to a receipt printer on the counter. “It means I can walk round the store, talk to customers and take orders.”

Fine coffee, attention to detail

Ulrich Carroux came to coffee roasting through his interest in fine-quality food production, which began when he was still at university. As an architecture student, he earned extra money by baking and selling his own pizzas. Both these commitments were managed on a Mac, using Archicad for his studies and FileMaker for his pizza ordering system. The efficiency and reliability of Apple technology proved invaluable to the young entrepreneur. “I’ve used Apple products since 1993,” states Carroux. “I've never had a reason to use a PC.”

Today, as a supplier to some of Germany’s top restaurants and caterers, he values personal contact as a means of maintaining good working relationships. In line with this philosophy, the premises of his small café in an upmarket residential neighbourhood of Hamburg also function as meeting point, laboratory and office rolled into one.

He regularly meets local suppliers and customers who appreciate the value of different coffees, such as Yirgacheffee organic coffee from the Oromia cooperation in Ethiopia, and who understand that the development of good espresso is as much about the quality of the beans as the right mixture. Carroux prides himself on verifying the origin of the raw materials for himself, rather than using an intermediary. His ultimate wish is to visit the coffee growers of Brazil, India, Ethiopia and Java. “But this is not easy with four young children,” he says.

When he’s not receiving visitors, Carroux will frequently hit the road to visit clients and see how things are going. To this end, his MacBook, iPad and iPhone are his constant companions, enabling him to immediately forward orders to the central shipping facility in Hanover via his online database. “They allow me to access all the relevant customer data. It is a good feeling to know that the goods are ready for shipment before I’ve even said goodbye to the customer,” he enthuses.

This online database is a crucial tool for conducting business, but, says Carroux, “I didn’t even consider operating my own server; I wanted to use FileMaker hosting instead.” He chose an ISP called Huynh, in Regensburg, which have used OS X as their server platform for many years. The monthly costs are easy to calculate and the provider carries out maintenance. He’s currently looking at FileMaker Go for iPad. For Carroux, this means saving time when implementing new projects and organising data.

It’s now common for coffee shops to provide Internet access for their customers, and Carroux Caffee is no different. Customers benefit from fast, wireless Internet access with their fresh coffee and croissants, which is also used by Carroux for research and development.

“If I want to see where a delivery is at any time, or how my accounts look or how my turnover is doing, I’ll open my iPad and check their status.”

Ulrich Carroux, Founder, Carroux Caffee

Proportionate technology

Carroux has also set up an online store for the restaurant trade so that his corporate customers can order their coffee through a simple interface. The enterprise even runs its own app for 2-click Express orders. The Hamburg advertising agency Forst-Gehege bridged the gap between Carroux’s merchandising and the online store using the open source store software OXID.

Carroux decided on this technical solution because the functionality rivals that of commercial systems, even though no licence fees were required. “The use of technology should always be proportionate to cost and the size of the company,” says Carroux. “Even if I could optimise every working process, people must be able to cope with the system — and enjoy their work.”

He has many other ideas to take his business forward (there are plans for as many as 10 stores, and outlets in London, Paris and Zurich are mooted), but his priority is steady, controlled growth. Outside of the Hamburg shop, he sells just two blends: an espresso blend, and a ‘crema’ blend. The latter was only added in 2008: “I don’t like fast businesses. I’d rather be slow and secure. We want satisfied customers; if I sell it, I have to guarantee it.”

To implement these plans, he continues to rely on trusted creative partners like Germany’s 74-year-old design and brand legend, Peter Schmidt, a long-term Mac user responsible for the latest relaunch design of Carroux. He finds himself drawn to fellow Mac users such as Christian von der Heide, responsible for the packaging designs.

For example, Carroux coordinates his merchandising using FileMaker software with a marketing partner, a fellow coffee roaster called Machwitz, based 150 kilometres away in Hanover. At first, the people at Machwitz were sceptical when Carroux brought an iMac into their offices. Up to that point, they had only known the world of Windows. Although FileMaker is also available as a Windows client, it was important for Carroux to offer Machwitz a solution that required as little maintenance as possible. “Our Mac-based ordering process had always worked perfectly up until then,” he says, “and we were keen to ensure an equally successful project for our partners.”

Olaf Lumma of Play Hamburg, Carroux’s photographer, also uses a Mac. Their joint use of an iCloud Shared Photo Stream provides benefits for their working partnership. “We save time and energy in exchanging files, and new images are available immediately after the shoot,” he says.

Synchronised through iCloud

For everything to work perfectly, Carroux manages his contact data using Contacts, and synchronisation with his iCloud account ensures that all his employees have up-to-date customer information.

During delivery, quick orientation using his iPhone is also invaluable. Tapping the customer’s address with his finger opens the Map application and shows his position, accurate to within a few metres. It’s a simple interface, and Carroux likes things that work simply.

Company Snapshot



  • Mac
  • iPad
  • iPhone


  • Contacts
  • iCloud
  • FileMaker