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Looking back at the pandemic, I’m sure there are many things we might reminisce or even miss about the era. It was undoubtedly a time of many uncertainties and stresses, but also one that sparked a lot of new ideas and businesses.

As some say, challenges breed innovation. And when one door closes, another may open.

Such is the case for couple Natsu and Felix, the founders of Divini Pastry, a quaint cafe in Puchong that started out as a pandemic-born business.

Hotel to business

Felix has always had a passion for cooking. At 18, despite his parents’ wishes, he moved to Singapore to work in a ramen chain restaurant. Here, he worked his way up and became the youngest kitchen lead in the business at age 21.

With a passion for cakes and desserts, he pursued a diploma in pastry and would attend classes on days off. By the time he was almost finished with his diploma, Natsu, whose background is in marketing, had moved to Singapore too.

Felix and Natsu / Image Credit: Divini Pastry

“After I graduated, I went for interviews but my confidence in my decision was shaken when I was faced with the reality of a steep 50% pay cut due to my change of career and lack of experience in pastries,” Felix admitted.

But Natsu encouraged him to take the leap, offering to help with both their living expenses for the time being as she was making more.

Yet, the pandemic changed things. One day, Felix got the fateful call that broke the disappointing news of a layoff.

“Like everyone else who was laid off during the pandemic, I was struggling to get another job in Singapore,” he shared.

At the same time, Natsu’s company was also facing financial challenges. So, after discussions, the couple decided to return to Malaysia to start a business together.

“I’ve always been captivated by petite and bite-sized pastries and desserts,” Felix shared. “Being exposed to high tea during my time working for hotels, I realised that some of the desserts/confections served are commonly only available in high tea at hotels.”

Image Credit: Divini Pastry

“I wanted to make these luxury pastries/desserts more affordable to the common man.”

With that, Divini Pastry was born at the height of the pandemic.

Online to offline

Something that sets Divini Pastry apart from other cafes is its specialisation in biscotti, which is a kind of Italian almond biscuit.

Felix felt that biscotti was one of the least common options among exclusive offerings of high tea. As a double-baked cookie, it also has a very long shelf life.

Image Credit: Divini Pastry

While its preparation process might be more troublesome, this also means less competition in the market. At the same time, Felix felt like many Malaysians love biscuits and cookies, especially during festive seasons.

With all these justifications, Divini Pastry started as an online business, solely focusing on only biscotti and butter shortbread.

However, the couple faced challenges with logistics due to the extremely fragile nature of their biscotti. They tried all sorts of packaging and wrapping methods, but their biscotti would always arrive crumbled. Thus, they resorted to delivering their goods themselves.

Initially based in Ipoh, they would make trips to the Klang Valley, where most of their customers were, once every two weeks. Eventually, they acknowledged it was unsustainable in the long run.

Image Credit: Divini Pastry

With that recognition came the idea to start a physical retail outlet instead.

Serendipitously, Natsu’s mother had just purchased a shop lot in Puchong for her office. The couple took on her offer to rent out the ground floor space, effectively leading to Divini Pastry’s expansion into a physical cafe mid-2022.

Biscotti to coffee

Divini Pastry has seven biscotti flavours to offer:

  • Classic Tuscany (almond)
  • Big Red Wolf (cranberry and wolfberry)
  • Golden Jade (matcha and golden raisin)
  • Oh Ferrero, (dark chocolate and hazelnut)
  • Cashew in the Dark (charcoal and cashew nut)
  • Smells Like Happiness (pistachio and black sesame)
  • Going Nuts (macadamia and pecan nut)

Other than biscotti, Divini Pastry also serves up bakes such as Danish butter shortbread, focaccia, coffee bun, marble butter cake, and lemon chia seed cake, among other offerings.

Image Credit: Divini Pastry

Their breakfast and lunch menus cover a variety of sandwiches and wraps. For dessert, they do gelato and waffles along with their cakes.

The cafe also offers reservation-only high teas on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (1PM to 4PM). The three-course high tea has four rotating weekly menus, and is priced at RM98/pax for one person, or RM88/pax for two people and above.

But beyond serving biscotti and other delights, Divini Pastry’s goal is to grow Malaysia’s speculoos culture.

Image Credit: Divini Pastry

Speculoos refers to the traditional Belgian cookie featuring a spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. But for Felix and Natsu, speculoos culture is all about enjoying the biscuit with a drink.

“Back then, during our younger days, I recall seeing biscuits being served together with coffee,” Felix recalled.

However, he felt like this culture has disappeared, mainly as it’s an added cost for the business.

Hence, in an effort to bring this culture back, Divini Pastry serves all their hot coffee with a piece of their biscotti at the side.

Image Credit: Divini Pastry

“Ever since we started Divini Pastry, we started to notice more and more cafes serving speculoos at the side of their coffee, and have even been seeing biscotti in the market even more commonly nowadays, which is a good sign,” Felix expressed.

Bootstrapping to profiting

To start Divini Pastry, Felix and Natsu put around RM40K of their own savings into the business.

“We prioritise quality and taste over profit margins which customers who have tasted our stuff can strongly attest to, and we (dare I say) give the warmest and friendliest service you’ll ever experience compared to many cafes in Malaysia,” he said.

Today, the team proudly shared that their last audited annual revenue was in the high six figures, and that they’ve been profitable.

There’s still a long way to go for the couple, though. For one, they have yet to find a way to package their biscotti with the least amount of breakage.

Image Credit: Divini Pastry

To further grow the business, they’ll also need to hire adequate and reliable manpower. Currently, the kitchen team consists of two members, including Felix, while the front of the house is singlehandedly run by Natsu, though she’s aided by her family every now and then.

Expanding the team is an effort that is already underway, though. With a larger team, Divini Pastry aims to push forward with its mission and become a go-to brand when it comes to biscotti in Malaysia.  

  • Learn more about Divini Pastry here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about F&B businesses here.

Featured Image Credit: Divini Pastry

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)