As I prepared to move to the UK three years ago, there was one thing I knew for certain: It is not (yet) a coffee culture. Much less so is the post-industrial wasteland that I have moved to. So, being the coffee enthusiast that I am, I bought a nice espresso machine to ensure my family’s survival.
To be fair, the UK is a diverse place, with many serious coffee spots. I have had wonderful coffee at Brew Lab , Takk , North Tea Power , and Quarter Horse Coffee . The best espresso shot I have ever had was a Kenya that tasted like fresh garden blueberries, at Artisan Roast , in Edinburgh. But I don’t live in those places. I live near Newcastle Upon Tyne, in a small coal mining village with no mine, and there is one glimmering Beacon of light that keeps the dream of bringing a true coffee shop culture to this corner of England alive. It is Flat Cap Joe’s coffee shop.
This post is about Kickstarting Flat Caps’ second shop, but let me explain what I mean by “not a coffee culture”. I have never seen a coffee shop open past 7:30pm, and I’m checking the local Starbucks’ hours as I write this. At least one specialty coffee shop in Newcastle closes at 3:30pm on Saturdays, and Flat Whites, in Durham, doesn’t open at all on Mondays. On Mondays! Certain Starbucks shut down their filter coffee machines before 5 and then serve americanos instead, because there aren’t enough customers to keep it fresh. And if you think you live in a UK city with a good coffee culture, count the number of times you hear a foreign accent at the specialty coffee shops; you probably have a bias in your sample of coffee lovers.
Flat Caps is owned and operated by Joe Meagher, who displays a collection of Barista Championship trophies at his service counter. Below is an image that I stole off his website without permission.
Joe bootstrapped his shop about 6 years ago with a bit of money from his former job in banking, and has made a serious oasis of coffee in downtown Newcastle. The best coffee in Newcastle is found descending a spiral staircase to the basement of a shop full of esoteric, spiritual trinkets. The quiet, friendly atmosphere, away from the business of the major shopping promenade above, make it the perfect getaway. But greater things can be done when your opening hours are not controlled by a trinket shop, and your outside visibility isn’t limited to a sign the size of a computer monitor.
It’s time for Flat Caps to open a second shop
If you are a coffee evangelist, you can help spread the message in this dark land because Joe is crowd-sourcing the initial funding on Kickstarter!
Back up Flat Caps’s Kickstarter Campaign today. You’ll feel good because you helped expand the reach of specialty coffee beyond its current borders, and you helped a hard-working man who left banking to do something interesting and rewarding, and to give back to his home-town community.
I backed Flat Caps, and I won’t even be in the UK by the time it opens. Coffee matters that much to me.