I was invited along for a behind the scenes look into a venture from another one of the North East's individuals. This time, it was Joe Meagher, of Flat Caps Coffee. Joe has owned Flat Caps Coffee for a number of years and wishes to expand to be able to give what customers cannot get at the original due some restrictions, without breaking his brand's ethos. I had a chat with Joe about his ideas for an expansion and what it could do for Newcastle, and invite you to have a look at his Kickstarter where you can get involved but also receive some fantastic perks in return!
Joe opened Flat Caps Coffee around 6 years ago and is almost completely self taught in his skills and techniques. He's won countless awards in Barista competitions, usually held in London, representing the North and the North East and seems to be competing in something every time I blink. As well as competing, he's always experimenting with brands and businesses (local and afar), as well as a couple of side projects (see Lola's Coffee and Flat Caps Tonic).
As a coffee lover myself, I was interested to see what Joe had in mind when he announced that he was up to something, Joe is already a prominent figure in Newcastle for his contribution to our caffeine intake so I'm sure he was up to something interesting.
Flat Caps Coffee is situated underneath a shop at 13 Ridley Place in the centre of Newcastle. Once you're there, you've found a perfect little hideaway underground right in the city centre but away from the hustle and bustle. A perfect place to sit and work or take a moment to get away from real life (they have wifi though, if you really can't detach).
The main focus of the shop is the fantastic coffee, they offer a choice of around three different coffees to choose from at any one time which are served in different ways; from filter to frothy. It's not at all intimidating for 'lay people' and is instead a 'coffee experience' for everyone. They don't drown you in terminology (although, you should visit the Syphon) and Joe is more than happy to share his knowledge. The great thing about Joe and Flat Caps Coffee is the transparency about the progress and product, resulting in this Kickstarter campaign.
That being said, with the location that Flat Caps means that Joe has to be really restrictive on his ideas for the brand and expanding into other projects around fantastic coffee. He's mainly restricted by the lack of control regarding opening times, as he can only open when the shop upstairs is open, and no outside space to offer a place for guests to sit on hot days.
More space for his dedicated customers to enjoy a hot drink, a space to hold events (coffee or non-coffee related), such as talks or classes could also be beneficial for the wider community of coffee lovers. Joe's visions also extend to coffee festivals or tours, hosting competitions and inviting other connoisseurs from all over to visit our fantastic city - coffee tourism, if you please. When chatting to him, I could see he is very careful not to lose his ethos or take anything away from the original shop, instead expanding it into, someday, a place to put Newcastle on the map.
Joe has started a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the possibility of a second shop to offer things to customers that he can't provide in the original shop. As his visions are more for a community; a place to hold events and talks, and to bring people up from the UK and wider, then I think a Kickstarter is a fantastic idea. The idea of being transparent in his expansion plans can be exciting and scary at the same time; it's laying everything out but also inviting everybody to come together to share ideas.