Bean counters . . . the local firm satisfying our thirst for coffee
PUBLISHED: 13:28 27 January 2015 | UPDATED: 13:28 27 January 2015
Our appetite for coffee is seemingly insatiable, a fact not lost on East Anglian firm Paddy & Scott’s. Tessa Allingham talked to found Paddy Bishopp about their plans for chain of high street shops
If the statisticians are to be believed, one in five of us buys a coffee every day, spending our £2.50 or so in one of the 16,000-odd outlets across the UK.
We choose carefully as we are apparently increasingly savvy, and seek out coffee shops that source, roast and grind the beans the way we like, heat the milk just so, and maybe employ a friendly barista versed in the arts of swirling clever designs in the foam .
We can’t, it would seem, get enough of the coffee ritual, because while the UK economy as a whole shrank in 2012, the coffee shop sector grew by a caffeinated, trend-bucking, 7.5%.
But enough of the numbers. Suffice to say Paddy Bishopp is keen for his company, Paddy & Scotts, to have a slice of the high street coffee shop pie. At heart the company is an East Anglian coffee supplier, but over the past eight years has moved into retail and catering supply, and set up branded in-house cafés in some 55 blue chip company headquarters such as Heinz, Hewlett Packard and Barclay’s. And now he’s on the high street too, having opened his first two stand-alone coffee shops, one in Bury St Edmunds, the other in Framlingham.
It’s the first step in what Paddy plans to be a 20-strong chain to be built over the next three years throughout the region. When we meet at Bury, he’s about to get to work on sites in Hadleigh and Norwich, and has his eye on a spot in Lowestoft.
“Opening on the high street was a logical next step for us,” he explains, unfazed by the fact that Bury – like plenty of other East Anglian towns – is already packed with coffee shops all competing for the same coffee pound.
“I love the fact that in Bury we’re virtually opposite Caffe Nero and that there’s so much competition. Bury is a growing town and coffee is an affordable treat that people are enjoying more and more. There’s definitely room for us, especially as I like to think we do things a bit differently.”
How? Paddy puts it down to a ‘Paddy & Scott’s DNA’ which he insists will run through every café.
“It’s about great coffee first of all. We slow roast ours, we roast to order so it’s fresh, and we source and blend carefully.” It comes as no surprise to hear that the company only works with growers certified by Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance, recycles as much as possible, and is, at the moment, working with the Suffolk Community Foundation on having their own fund to support local charities.
But the coffee tastes great too. The double espresso shot in a flat white is a smokey, strong blend of Brazilian, Ethiopian and Indonesian arabica beans with a bit of robusta. If flat white isn’t your bag, then the baristas can concoct a cappuccino, Americano, espresso, mocha or the ever-popular latte.
“The giant 16oz latte is still the most popular choice,” Paddy says, a note of sadness in his voice. “But people are becoming more discerning and interested in origin and roast and blend.”
At first sight the food offer is what you’d expect – Scotch eggs and sausage rolls, pots of porridge, Moma muesli and Kabuto noodles, salads with the de rigueur superfood ingredients, decadent brownies and moist lemon drizzle cake.
So far, so Pret a Manger or Caffe Nero. But look again and Paddy’s passion for local food – he was brought up in East Anglia – leaps out. It’s another part of the DNA he keeps coming back to.
“Our ham comes from Blythburgh pork, chicken from Sutton Hoo, the Artisan Smokehouse provides smoked salmon, and the prawn sandwich uses Stokes’ lemon mayonnaise. We are a proud East Anglian company.”
The look of the cafe is also carefully considered. There’s more than a nod to fashionable Shoreditch grunge – bare wood floors, industrial-style riveted frames to seats, and an exposed brick wall decorated with a giant Paddy & Scotts logo.
“Right from the start I knew the look I wanted – not too shiny, something relaxed, cool, British, something that captured our passion for coffee,” he explains. “And I wanted our DNA to run through all the cafes of course! This was Angie’s [Ashby Hoare, interior designer] first commercial project, but she got it perfectly.”
The space is zoned. Leather bucket chairs in the window are in the ‘be seen’ zone, the ‘buzz bar’ with its quirky bottle-top stools is a work area, packed with sockets (chargers for all manner of devices are available for loan), the ‘living room’ at the back is deliberately socket-free, a place for peace and quiet, and the ‘social zone’ is the imposing communal table that dominates the shop.
And then there’s the staff. A social media-led recruitment drive led to a flood of applications from wannabe baristas.
“We had 150 CVs, many of them videos, which was great because we saw if they could smile or not! I work on the principle of hiring the attitude and training the skill.” Successful applicants spent two-weeks at the company’s Earl Soham Bean Barn.
“They learnt to make great coffee, but also role-played customer service scenarios. Good service is in our DNA, it’s our ethos and it’s got to be right if we’re going to give customers an experience they want to have again.”