Leicester city centre is buzzing with wonderful coffee shops but one of our favourites, Leicester Coffee House, is celebrating their first year in business this week. With their in house roasted coffee, gorgeous resident dog and commitment to helping develop young talent, they’ve been a big hit since opening 12 months ago on Granby Street.
We caught up with owner, Gail Brown, to find out how the first year has been.
Leicester Coffee House is turning one – how would you sum up the journey of your first year in the city?
While the roastery side of our business has been trading for a few years, opening the coffee shop has been a phenomenal undertaking both physically and mentally. Our first year has been exhausting but also exciting and challenging and we are really pleased with what we have achieved. Our customers and supporters have been incredible and have kept us going throughout the year and we now feel ready to take the business onto the next phase.
For those who haven’t visited Leicester Coffee House before, what would you say sets you apart from other coffee shops in the city?
Our coffee is carefully sourced from a supplier who can provide not only high quality but a high traceability of origin and detail about the practices at the farm. The coffee is roasted in small batches on site which means it is always super fresh and tastes amazing. Our cakes are also baked fresh on site and we are keen to source everything locally and ethically. We are also working towards a zero waste business, using only compostable cups, napkins and sandwich bags. We avoid single use plastic products which includes our milk, we are part of the Leicester Refill scheme and we will also be launching a range of keep cups and coffee bean containers to avoid the use of disposable bags and cups.
What have been some of the highlights of your first year?
The growth in confidence of one of our most anxious students, seeing the coffee shop full and buzzing with people enjoying themselves and our listing in the Big Seven Travel guide as one of the top 50 UK coffee shops within 6 months.
As an independent business owner in Leicester, how supportive do you find the city and customers in terms of the independent market?
Nationally city centres are changing and I think Leicester is doing really well with a vibrant cultural, business and social scene. As many of the larger retailers move much of their business online, there is an opportunity for independents to keep the high street vibrant and diverse. I meet loads of people who are keen to support independent businesses and will choose to spend their money in them. With Bid Leicester’s new Independent business campaign, it is a really exciting time to be a small independent business in Leicester.
We think you probably have one of Leicester city centre’s best known dogs! How much of a draw is he for customers?
Tommo has a lot of fans! People are drawn into the shop after they see him sitting in his favourite seat in the window. I love watching him ‘working the room’ and relaxing people during their lunch break, some of whom have said it has made their day. I spend a lot of time waiting at the bar for people to order as doggie snuggles come first!
You’ve also started doing special events and live music, what do you have coming up over the next few weeks?
We have Leicester Open Coffee, a monthly business networking event which attracts smaller businesses, entrepreneurs and start ups. Look out for more music events early Friday evenings, art exhibitions and a vintage pop up on 23rd November. All our events are listed on our Facebook page and we are always keen to speak to people who might be interested in using the coffee shop to host their events and activities.
You also roast your own coffee, has coffee always been a big passion of yours?
Coffee has been a long term love for Aaron who started roasting at home on a popcorn maker before purchasing a small roasting machine. He has spent hours perfecting his roasts, meticulously tweaking the time and temperature to get the best flavour out of each new coffee. I have learnt everything I know about coffee from him and it has now also become a big part of my life too and certainly helps to fuel the energy required to set up and run a small business!
Leicester Coffee House also proudly supports learning and skills for young people, what impact do you feel you’ve had in the last 12 months?
We started working with young people almost straight away and the last year has been not only about learning the business but also how we can best support the students. We have worked with about 16 so far who have mostly been involved on placement within the Hospitality (coffee shop) or Operations (roastery / delivery) side of the business. It has been a huge motivator to see them gain confidence, engage with customers and understand what is required of them in a food business. We have lots of exciting ideas of how they will link with our business in the future and how to help them progress. Watch this space!
Leicester Coffee House is located at 110 Granby Street. To keep up to date with events and news from Leicester Coffee House you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or visit their website.
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