Flat Caps Coffee: 2 (Kickstarter)

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.

Be a backer for the Kickstarter here and choose from some fantastic perks when you pledge:

£1 or more: For every £1 you pledge you’ll receive £2 in Flat Cap money to spend on coffee
£10 or more: Receive Flat Cap’s infamous Christmas card
£15 or more: Receive a personalised copy of the Northern Coffee Guide
£20 or more: Receive a personalised copy of the Newcastle Cook Book. – I went for this one!
£35 or more: Attend a Flat Caps Latte Art class
£35 or more: A Sensory Coffee Experience, a class on tasting the subtle flavours of different coffee
£50 or more: Name a table in the new Flat Cap’s shop
£50 or more: Name on the wall at the new Flat Cap’s shop
£75 or more: A home brewing class
£75 or more: An invite to the opening launch party at the new Flat Cap’s coffee shop
£100 or more: Basic Barista Skill Course
£150 or more: Intermediate Barista Skills Course
£200 or more: One on One master barista course with Joe
£500 or more: One year membership offering you free coffee for a year, VIP invitation to the launch party and more perks
£1,000 or more: Two years membership offering you free coffee for two years, VIP invitation to the launch party and more perks
£1,500 or more: Three year membership offering you free coffee for three years, VIP invitation to the launch party and more perks

I’ve had a radio show, I’ve had many blogs before, you could say I’ve had my fingers in many pies. Always wanting to get involved in the goings on of my own community, often, to keep my eyes wide open. One project, in 2013, was //NEMusic. I was in 2nd year at university and sitting in my apartment, bored of listening to the same old pop songs. I’d always been interested in live music and local talent, but for a 19-20 year old 2nd year student living away from home, I was completely in the dark as to what the North East had to offer.

I started //NE Music on a whim one evening, probably procrastinating, with no prior knowledge about the local music scene other than a few mates in bands. Once I had delved into it, I was overwhelmed at the hordes of talent coming through to my mailbox everyday. I was also lucky enough to start //NE Music at a similar time that Helen Armstrong was starting @NorthEastHour. I have a post on it here, however it was such an amazing way to network with other businesses. That’s where I found the Digital Youth Enterprise, and I became their first guinea pig. (I don’t think they’re running any more, either!)

I hosted a successful gig, promoting 3 local bands, and am still in touch with many of them (even if they’re no longer in a band anymore) and can call many of them my friends. Truth is, //NE Music didn’t fail. The opposite, in fact, I returned back to university after Christmas to enter my second semester of my second year (which is an absolute bitch of a term) and I got so overwhelmed at how quickly it grew. I had to make a decision to hold back a little as I needed to focus on my degree, other people had a lot more time (and money) than me to put behind promoting bands. It never meant that I stepped away from supporting them from a personal standpoint, though!

I didn’t want to just promote bands, nor review them (what gives me the right?!), so I was at a loose end. I still am a little bit, I have my long term plan but I’m not quite ready to announce that yet (and won’t for a while, it’ll be worth it though!). In the meantime, //NE Music has teamed up to create //NE Music & Film. We’re returning, but in a much smaller capacity (for now) than last time.

Are you in a band? Introduce yourselves: here

Old School.

The part of the site for //NEMusic isn’t quite ready yet, but we’re already all over Facebook and Twitter! I would really appreciate if you could give us a like and a follow! Also, as we’re seriously reminiscing now, see below for an interview I did almost three years ago, highlighting my big plans for //NE Music (the first time round). NOTE the websites and social media (and the monthly nights) don’t exist anymore!


My First Time…Banhmi

On a recent and literal Shop ’til you Drop session, we needed to go somewhere to refuel and I’ve been wanting to try Time Banhmi since it opened. Time Banhmi is a healthy alternative to other sandwich bars on the Newcastle High Streets and offers a small variety of fillings as Vietnamese sandwiches Bánh mì, tofu vegetarian options bánh mì chay or with rice depending how hungry you are! Today, 8th February is Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year and considered as the first day of spring (I’ll go with that!)

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As if this marks the end of #BlogstaurantWeek. 7 days of some of the best restaurants in Newcastle upon Tyne, I now have to go back to cooking and doing the washing up. For the final day, we headed to The Quayside for food at Pitcher & Piano. Pitcher & Piano is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a refreshing glass of wine or pint of lager on a sunny day. I’ve never actually been for food and I thought Restaurant Week would probably be the perfect time to check it out, as well as their ‘new’ refurb.

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Babucho Newcastle is an old favourite for Restaurant Week, I think it’s often a “first choice” for me when it comes around, as it’s quite easy for picky eaters! Tonight, I was joined by my housemate (again, See Wednesday) and my old University Girls. This therefore included One vegetarian, Two not-very-hungry-vegans, then a very ravenous Lucy and Me. We had spent today in two huge teams, having a very competitive game of Laser Tag, we were in dire need of some good grub.

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