Way back when – and I mean when, it was 1999 – I was roasting coffee on an alpenroast home roaster and selling three 250g bags of coffee a week at the Stafford market when I remembered Snapes, the coffee shop in Wolverhampton I loved so much when I was little, and how the ability to offer a cup of coffee is a big thing for a roaster. We found a shop in Stafford town centre – very small and in an awful location – but cheap and affordable.
It was a slog opening that first shop in 2000 – the whole shop needed to be refit as a café, and I was still working my “real” job while trying to make coffee my main job – but it was ours. It wasn’t fancy-fancy (it did have a bright red room in front and a funky electric blue room in back) and, although we didn’t sell lots of coffee or convert the good people of Stafford to specialty, we did kind of achieve our goal – it was through the shop that I found my first 2kg roaster and Pete, the guy who built the first-ever Hasbean.co.uk. The day the online shop launched, I sold more coffee than I had the whole week on the market stall.
As you can guess (or already know because I’ve told this story so many times) we closed the shop in 2003 and focused on building the webshop and roastery, so the rest is pretty much history but I am finding myself thinking about that first (and only) shop we’ve ever had more and more for reasons you’re about to figure out.
Late last year, we got an email from UNIQLO UK wanting to know if we’d be interested in opening up a pop-up on the third floor of their flagship Oxford St shop – and the answer was definitely yes. 14 years is a long time to go without having a shop but I’m excited that this is happening – for quite a while now we’ve thought about how we might present coffee differently in a shop of our own, so when UNIQLO’s email arrived, it was a no brainer.
[H]AND by Hasbean is what we’ve put together for the space – it’s all about collaboration and service not sales (even if it pains me to say it) and we’re all pretty excited about how things are coming together in time for tomorrow’s opening.
We’re only serving filter coffee (Hasbean obviously) tea from Lalani & Co, brewed with the fancy new Mix, the Tsubambe & Kalita collection, and Lalani’s own Aurora brewer which is made just up the road in Stoke-on-Trent (Roland’s homeland), but there will also be retail coffee, tea, and equipment available on site for those who want to do things at home
It’s also been nice to bring back a familiar face – Pete Williams (not the Pete who built the site, but familiar to those who remember him from 3fe and WBC) is running the ship
Anywho I could bore you with all the details here, or I can point you in the direction of the shiny new website we have for [H]AND (www.madebyhandcoffee.com) – drop in and say hello!