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!


A DIY Murder Mystery Dinner Party.

The best thing about an idea to have a murder mystery party to celebrate my birthday is that I can bring back one of the best events of the year – in Spring. Halloween. A little party never KILLED anyone…

I bought a murder mystery story online for about £30 but I wanted to still put my own twist on it by doing some DIY projects to make it my own. I always had the impression that murder mysteries could get quite boring with people just sitting around a table, people might not stay in character and it ends up just a Q&A. No. Not on my watch.

Firstly, I am friends with a theatrical, confident bunch who are all comfortable with taking the piss out of themselves in front of each other so staying in character was not a problem. In fact, they were in their characters the week before and the week after the event. Hilarious.


The story had 14 characters made up of 7 females and 7 males but I had 9 females and 6 males wanting to play. I took a male role of barman and my friend Natasha took the role of Bebop B’doo, telling the rest of the party that the two B’doos will be sisters not husband and wife. I decided to scan & send the character info to my guests beforehand so they were prepared with their character’s bio and storyline.

I also made a list of random names for any other friends who wished to attend so I could make them “decoy characters”. For example, I named my cousin/friend Chris “Tatty Bojangles” the poker dealer. When each character were introducing themselves at the beginning of the night, he had even made up his own story to tell the group (he was in the same union as Casey Stumbles, Catsby’s butler). Later in the evening, the original Booboo B’doo was called into work (in 1920s flapper dress!) so the next thing I saw was Chris dressed up to take over the role, also returning the B’doos back to husband and wife (but gender reversed).


Rather than have all 14 characters (and then decoy characters) sitting round a table with a three-course dinner, I decided to have a three-course buffet instead. This meant that we had people free to act out their characters at a dinner party rather than sit around. The only problem was that it meant we were asked the same question more than once, which, wasn’t really a problem.

The game was led by the audio files included in the set, which I created a giant Spotify playlist full of 1920s music into a radio show, “Radio Alibi” WITH adverts! The radio then came on for each act (and in turn, course) to move the story (and the meal) along. I put in about an hour’s worth of songs for each course, but skipped ahead if people seemed to be finished with that act’s questions.

I also had plenty activities available. I made a Photo Booth with 1920s props, a poker table and had my fully-functioning home bar, a true centrepiece to the evening (post on my home bar coming soon). The poker table was actually perfect (and a coincidence!) for Bebop B’doo’s character, where it was later revealed that he/she had a gambling addiction!


I did a couple of DIY projects to put my own spin on the evening. These included an £8 Photo Booth, ‘dead man’ napkins, evidence bags and photo cards for the buffet table.

I created some ‘dead man’ napkins using just liquid white chalk, card and an interesting familiarity with silhouettes of dead people. I created the stencil and dabbed away at the edges on the corner of black napkins while I watched an entire episode of Saturday Night Takeaway, then I decided I had done enough. These were a little added touch to the buffet table, which I decided to take quite gothic with bleeding candles, crime scene tape and low light.

I had also created photo evidence card out of yellow card and a black sharpie to number the food on the buffet. I had three starters, three mains and three desserts for the courses of the evening and so creating nine evidence cards and printed the ‘menu’ with each meal corresponding with a number. I had that also on yellow card with a desk light shining onto it in a police-interrogation style. Again, this added enough light into the room (as well as about 30 tea lights and the bar) to give a great atmosphere.

I also created evidence envelopes with each character’s name on, to give to each person upon arrival. Inside, were their character bio and information, a ‘menu’ of questions to ask others in each act and a little card to say whether they were the murderer or not. Again, I feel like this was a nice added touch that gave the whole night a great feel.

Another great feature was the photo booth. It cost me all of £8. I bought some 1920s themed props and spent about 30 minutes putting them together one evening, put a gold tassel wall up and switched on my day light. I didn’t need to set up any fancy camera, everyone just took pictures or selfies on their phones. My friend, Natasha, is also the person you usually avoid on a night out due to having a camera in your face so she naturally took on the role of taking pictures. She even downloaded other people’s photos and put the vintage-look filter on them and re-uploaded them to Facebook. I’m really glad I did that as we have something to remember our characters by – even though I’m sure we’ll see Gray Catsby, Harvey Wallbanger, Farley Hatpin, Greta Garbled and co. again!

“Stay Tuned” for further posts coming your way about the killer DIY cake and a post (maybe series) about my home bar – le pièce de résistance of my entire home!

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!)

View Post

That Retro trend review: 60s/70s fashion – isn’t it ‘dated’ now?!

So, the 70s trend is nearly over. I feel like it was a bit marmite: you either loved it or hated it. Except for me, who wasn’t bothered.

I’m not usually one to follow trends. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I seem to manage to grab hold of items just before the bandwagon enters the station. Maybe I succumb to the subliminal psychology of the first couple of pieces in shop windows, or maybe I’m just psychic. This isn’t really AW15, I’m not very good at coats. Or layering. Or dressing for the cold. So there. View Post