I first came across Sarah’s Caring Coffee towards the end of 2017. What piqued my interest more than anything was that it’s based in Holywell, the North Wales town where I was born and brought up, where my father still lives and where I am a very frequent visitor. On further investigation, it turned out that Sarah’s Caring Coffee had been set up to generate income, by selling coffee on-line and at various local markets, for The Cariad Project, a charity which helps disabled people in Africa.
I met the eponymous Sarah, who is behind both Sarah’s Caring Coffee and The Cariad Project, at the start of this year, and was given a bag of her Ethiopian Sidamo to take with me on my travels around North America. It graced my Aeropress from Providence to Phoenix, via cities such as New Orleans, and was a lovely coffee.
I was therefore delighted when I heard in May that Sarah had opened The Coffee Bean in Holywell, providing a permanent retail outlet for Sarah’s Caring Coffee, as well as a community hub and flexible meeting space. Naturally I took the first opportunity I could to pay Sarah and The Coffee Bean a visit.
You can see what I found after the gallery.
The Coffee Bean is just off Holywell High Street, on the right, opposite the old town hall. If you’re not looking for it, it can be easily missed, tucked away down The Mews, a long, narrow alleyway with a pair of (open) gates on the High Street, where you’ll find a handy A-board and sign, pointing the way. The entrance is also, coincidentally, right next to Holywell’s first speciality coffee shop, Marmalade, which opened just after The Coffee Bean.
Head down The Mews and The Coffee Bean is on the left. There’s an old-fashioned display window, followed by a long, narrow porch running along the outside of the building, which was, I’m sure, once a row of old cottages. There’s an outside table if you want to sit in the sun, or alternatively, head for the door at the near end of the porch.
At the far end of the porch another door on the left leads you into the front room of The Coffee Bean. This given over to the sale of coffee, with a counter in the corner opposite the door, while off to the right, it’s lined with retail shelves, filled with bags of coffee. However, perhaps the best part of The Coffee Bean is still to come.
To the left of the door, a short passageway leads back in the direction of the High Street, past where the stairs would have been and into the back room, which Sarah has turned into the Sample Room. Here a pair of sofas face each other across a coffee table and, in the corner, a batch-brewer is bubbling away, brewing up samples of the coffee of the day, which you can try before you buy.
First thing to say is that despite the Tasting Room, The Coffee Bean is not a coffee shop. By all means, come in, have a seat, chat with Sarah, learn about Sarah’s Caring Coffee and the Cariad Project, all while trying the excellent coffee, but don’t treat this as just a regular coffee shop. Alternatively, if you know what you want, you can just grab a bag (or two) from the shelves (both whole bean and ground coffee are available) and be on your way.
At the moment, The Coffee Bean is a work-in-progress, with pretty much everything either upcycled or donated. Currently, there’s just the one batch-brewer, so Sarah can only offer a single coffee, but ideally she’d like have three, so if anyone has an old batch brewer (something like a Moccamaster would be ideal) that’s surplus to requirements, you know what to do…
However, The Coffee Bean is more than just a retail space. Sarah set it up as a community hub, with the aim of providing a flexible space that can be used for meetings, events and pop-up shops. She’s also hoping that The Coffee Bean can provide training for young people looking for a career in retail.
Everything, however, is driven by The Cariad Project, which Sarah established in September 2017 to help disabled people in Africa. From her own work in the UK, Sarah knew that there was plenty of surplus equipment (crutches, walking frames, mobility aids, etc) that is often thrown away. Her initial idea was to collect surplus equipment herself and send it to Africa, working with the charity PhysioNet.
It soon became clear that this alone would take a very long time, so in order to generate funds, Sarah hit upon the idea of selling coffee. This appealed since coffee originated in Africa and is still a major export. At the moment, Sarah’s coffee is sourced and roasted on her behalf by a roaster in Derbyshire, but in the long-term, Sarah’s interested in moving into direct trade, sourcing the coffee herself. With luck, her first direct trade shipment, a coffee from Uganda, will be arriving soon.
In the meantime, there are around 10 different origins on offer, not all from Africa, supplemented by a small range from old friends Grumpy Mule. While Sarah has her own decaf beans, there’s also a small selection from Decadent Decaf. Meanwhile, Sarah is keen to work with other, local roasters and is currently stocking coffee from Mug Run, a small-batch roaster just up the coast in Rhyl.
There are other bits and pieces for sale, including coffee-related kit, craft chocolate and reusable cups. Sarah’s also got some signed copies of The Philosophy of Coffee. So, if you’re in the area, do pop in and say hello. You can also buy her coffee on-line or take out a monthly subscription. Finally, why not donate to The Cariad Project: money, equipment, surplus coffee kit are all welcome!
|29 THE MEWS • HOLYWELL • CH8 7TE|
|www.sarahscoffee.com||+44 (0) 7739 062026|
|Monday||10:00 – 16:00||Roaster||Sarah’s Caring Coffee, Grumpy Mule, Decadent Decaf|
|Tuesday||10:00 – 16:00||Seating||Sofas|
|Wednesday||10:00 – 16:00||Food||N/A|
|Thursday||10:00 – 16:00||Service||N/A|
|Friday||10:00 – 16:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Chain||No||Visits||15th June 2018|
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