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New Fair Trade Coffee Shop in Hull

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On 2nd January 2024 we expanded our physical presence in Hull to include a fair trade coffee shop! The coffee shop was already there, just a few metres from the retail unit where we sell our ethically produced gifts and clothing. It had been founded in early 2022 by a young man called Callum who did a wonderful job getting his business off the ground. However, in late 2023 Callum decided to change his career path. He wanted to travel – and that’s not easy with a coffee shop under your arm! So he put his business up for sale and after a brief but in-depth discussion we offered to buy it.

Why Us and Why Now?

When we first started selling fair trade gift items it was at outdoor markets and craft fairs. Rich and I would go to these events together, car weighed down with several boxes of stock and often with tables, chairs, and a gazebo. Then, in very early 2018, we signed our first License to trade in a permanent retail unit in the Trinity Market Arcade in what is known as Hull’s “old town”. Two years later, during the first lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic, we expanded into one of the largest retail units in the building, making our stall into more of a walk-around shop – exactly where I am now in 2024 as I write this in between serving customers.

It’s a lovely atmosphere here, with neighbours looking out for one another, laughter ringing down the walkway, and the sound of Hull Minster’s bells ringing nearby. Adding to the great feels, there are tables and chairs just outside our retail unit where people gather and chat as they sip freshly ground coffee. It’s a happy place to work, to shop, and to meet up with friends and family. When Callum announced that he was moving on, we wanted to keep those positive vibes alive, and we thought it was the ideal time to introduce more people to the delicious goodness of Fairtrade coffee.

Bean Fair

Within two days of moving in we had used up the last of the beans Callum had left for us, allowing us to switch over to CaféDirect’s Machu Picchu, a popular coffee that carries the Fairtrade mark, guaranteeing that it is 100% Fairtrade. This means that the beans are fully traceable from farm to shelf (or farm to grinder!) and ensures that all of the 10 Principles of Fair Trade Principles as set out by the World Fair Trade Organization are adhered to. For those who are avoiding caffeine but still love their coffee, we also serve Machu Picchu decaf. Just as full flavoured as the regular Machu Picchu, we always get the thumbs up when our customers try it for the first time.

Tea-hee

If tea is your go-to choice of hot beverage, we sell that, too. At time of writing we are still using up the huge supply of Yorkshire Tea that came with the business, but Fairtrade brands are available for those who ask, and will be served as standard once all the Yorkshire has been used up.

Not ones to disappoint, we also stock a large range of herbal teas and infusions, my own favourite being Clipper Peppermint Infusion. Green tea is also proving to be very popular, as is a nice calming cup of chamomile. Relaxing with a freshly made drink in our coffee shop is a great way to try a new flavour, and if you enjoy it as much as we think you will you can buy a full box to take home.

A Bit on the Side

Triple Chocolate Brownies on a tray

I don’t know about you, but when I want to give myself a treat I like to indulge in a nice slice of something sweet with my cuppa – and what could be more satisfying than a chunk of triple chocolate brownie or a slab of flapjack? Granola bars are also a popular choice which we always try to keep stocked up on alongside others, depending on what grabs our fancy at the time of buying. We also keep individually wrapped shortbread and Just5 bars in stock for those who want to pop one in their pocket to enjoy later.

We open the coffee shop about an hour before the gift shop, and during our first week of waking up to an earlier alarm we simply weren’t hungry before leaving the house, and therefore skipped breakfast. While still trying to get into the swing of things, and serving the lunch time rush, we were also failing to fit in a midday meal for ourselves. I have to admit that serving such enticing snacks to other people was a real tease during those first few days. Then there was the evening that we arrived home hungry and discovered the oven had packed up. Such bad timing! Thankfully, as our circadian rhythms adjust, an early breakfast is back on the menu, and we are taking it in turns to have a quick bite in the early afternoon. As for our evening meal, the oven is now working again thanks to a new element arriving very fast and being simple to fit.

Score on the Door

Before taking over the coffee shop we were required, by law, to register it with our local Environmental Health department. I spoke on the phone with Dawn, a very helpful lady with a kind voice, and within a few days we received a window sticker informing visitors that we were “awaiting inspection”. This was to replace the green Score on the Door that highlighted a big number 5 – the highest score you can get – that Callum had proudly earned.

During the call, Dawn offered to come for what she called an “advisory visit” if we felt it would be helpful before the later compulsory inspection that would earn us our own score. While everyone, ourselves included, likes to think they are getting things right, if you’re going to be judged and scored it can be helpful and reassuring to have someone check up on you before the big day. A kind of mock exam, if you like. I took her up on her kind offer and she arrived mid-morning on Friday 12th January.

Despite Dawn’s kind face and gentle approach, the fact that I had invited her for a chat and it wasn’t an actual inspection, and that I generally don’t get nervous about tests, I was surprisingly tense about the meeting. Rich and I had both done food hygiene and allergy awareness courses during our time off over Christmas, and we have always held the belief that killing your customers is bad for business, so we were well prepared. But still….

As it turned out there was nothing at all to worry about, and Dawn was very happy with our attitude to all things hygiene. So happy, in fact, that she awarded us our Score on the Door right there and then – a big fat 5! I guess having grown up with a germ-phobic father and a cleaning-obsessive mother has its benefits.

food hygiene rating, score on the door, 5 stars

Perfection! We’re working on it…

We strive for ethical perfection, but we’re not there yet. Expanding upon the commendable efforts of our predecessor, who invested considerable time and energy to establish and popularize the business, we aim to build upon his hard work by enhancing our eco-friendliness in certain areas. Switching to Fairtrade coffee beans was quick and easy and happened on our second day. The tea will take longer due to the huge number of teabags that came with the business and the relatively few people who drink tea in a coffee shop. We’ll get there! We have begun stocking Fairtrade brands of cola and lemonade, and we’re also looking into water filtration systems that will work with our set-up. We have a new bin that allows us to separate our waste (and have been pleasantly surprised at how very little goes to landfill), and regular readers won’t be surprised to know that we are taking the spent coffee grounds and tea bags home for our compost bin. Our vegetable plot is going to thrive! Of course, with the coffee shop, as with all aspects of our life and work, we will continue to look for more ways that we can improve our environmental impact.

a small pedal bin for separating waste
I got very excited about this bin #ProperAdultNow 😀

So here we are, less than a month in. We take it in turns, but this afternoon Rich is manning the espresso machine while I’m in charge of the gift shop, the laptop and “testing” a sneaky piece of flapjack. We’re working a lot of hours, but as we relax into it we’re starting to really enjoy it. Customers have given us a big thumbs up for the Machu Picchu, and it’s great to see people coming back time and again. Also good to see is the number of people drinking oat milk coffee. We had no idea it was so popular! If you haven’t yet tried it, I can heartily recommend it.

Before I sign off, Richard and I would like to thank you for joining us on this journey! As we embrace the warmth of our fair trade coffee shop in Hull, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to each reader who has shared in our story. Your support means the world to us. We are dedicated to maintaining the friendly atmosphere, serving exceptional coffee and tea, and ensuring the highest standards of hygiene, as affirmed by our recent Score on the Door inspection—a proud 5! We invite you to be a part of our coffee-loving community, savour a cup of our renowned Machu Picchu, and treat yourself to the sweet delights that make each visit special. We look forward to welcoming you to our happy place!