Back in early 2002, Jane and myself started selling paperback books on Bridgnorth Saturday Market and various others throughout the Midlands. At Bridgnorth, there was someone selling coffee beans who over time we got to know. We also had a unit at the Concorde Centre in Sedgley. In 2004 the person who sold coffee beans on Bridgnorth Market left. One day he was passing through the Concorde Centre, where he informed us that his wife was expecting and he had given up the coffee trade. He suggested that if we wanted a change to get in touch with him. We talked it over and decided that due to the book business being in decline we would take it on. From then he supplied us with various coffee beans.
We started by selling the coffee beans, in bean form or ground, at craft fairs around the country. At one craft fair, a customer asked if we would be interested in going to Stourbridge Farmer’s Market. Halesowen, Moseley and Kings Heath Farmer’s Market followed. These were followed by Kings Norton, the Jewellery Quarter and a local produce market at Bewdley. When the Jewellery Quarter closed due to development, Rowheath Pavillion, Bourneville took its place. This has since closed. By now Jane had given up her full time job and was travelling the country selling coffee beans at different general markets.
During 2002 a famous tea shop in Wolverhampton W.T.M. Snape closed down, which had been in existence since the late 1800’s, when Mr Parkes the owner decided to retire. Not long after his retirement, Mr Parkes sadly passed away. One of the general markets Jane attended was Wolverhampton. One day Mrs Parkes was passing through and said to Jane that if she thought of selling tea to get in touch and she would give her details of where Mr Parkes used to get his tea from, a tea merchant in London. The rest they say is history!
In late 2006, Jane decided to return to full time work which involved working Saturdays. I decided to carry on with the Saturday Farmer’s Markets, as I still work 9 – 5 Monday to Friday. I still brought my speciality teas from the same tea merchant but I searched around for a new source of coffee. During this search I came across a micro coffee roaster in Stafford who imported his coffee beans form mostly small independent coffee growers from across the world. My first visit to collect my order was a real eye opener into the world of coffee. Three hours later I left with my order.
The roaster is a font of knowledge when it comes to coffee and is a member of the “Cup of Excellence” judging panels. The Cup of Excellence is a strict competition that selects the very best coffee produced in that country for that particular year. These winning coffees are chosen by a select group of national and international cuppers and are cupped at least five different times during the competition process. The final winners are awarded the prestigious Cup of Excellence and sold to the highest bidder during an internet auction.
Due to this roaster dealing with small farms, stock runs out quickly and many customers like their "usual" coffee. With this in mind I now also have access to another micro roaster in Shrewsbury.
Today I stock coffees from Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, (to name a few) blended coffees and fair trade coffees. The countries and coffees regularly change due to the coffees running out. This is due to different countries having harvest times at different times of the year.
As well as many traditional coffees a selection of flavoured coffee beans are stocked.
The teas I stock include traditional teas, black, green and white, from Ceylon, China, Formosa, India and Kenya and blended teas. Flavoured teas which have a base of either black or green tea to which such flavours as Wild Cherry and Peppermint are added. Fruit infusions of mixed dried red berries which has no tea content and tastes like Ribena and Herbal teas which are parts of the herb or plant and have many medicinal properties.