Beginning with some tea leaves, a few beans and an idea. After years of working in and around the coffee shops and bars interspersed with globetrotting times Mike and I found ourselves back in the UK. Looking around for opportunities we stumbled across a little market stall in the Pannier Market in Truro, Cornwall that was up for rent. Why tea and coffee? Well we had a friend who was a coffee roaster and then, through him, we met a slightly brusque, but very wise, tea importer. Finally, a dear friend came up with an old, very beautiful, 1920s set of Post Office scales and a few brass funnels. That was it really. Throw in a blackboard and some chalk and we were off. A local spot where you could pop in and pick up your weekly tea and coffee. We hoped people would find us. Well it worked and it didn’t work. First off, although I had owned coffee shop/cafe in Bristol, our depth of knowledge of coffee was still a bit limited - even more so with tea!
So we had an awful lot to learn in a very short space of time. Money was tight, getting stock sometimes seemed impossible and a living wage just a distant dream. But, I guess we did something right because first customers became regulars, their enthusiasm and support for the business was amazing. We started listening to what they were telling us. The more we listened, the more we learnt and the more fascinating and wonderful both tea and coffee became. It took a while but, along the highs and lows, what stayed solid was our wanting to perfect what we were doing. When we started we knew a little bit about coffee and even less about tea. Now, we have three independent coffee roasters working with us to allow us to offer our own unique roasts supplied weekly. Our main tea importer, who is now a little less brusque, is still superbly sourcing our classic teas which leaves us free to concentrate on finding new ingredients to create new, seasonal, tasty tea blends. We now know more about packaging than is probably considered healthy.
Am I glad we chose tea and coffee? Absolutely. It's fun, it's tasty, it's creative, it brings people together and, oh yes, did I mention it was fun?! These days I can’t imagine being involved with anything else. Both are incredibly interesting, you can get seriously knowledgeable about leaf grades and water thermometers, or you can just get the kettle on and enjoy your morning cuppa.