We went down to White Mulberries to talk to the lovely Rana, a coffee shop owner and Nico, a passionate barista. Here is what they had to say about their participation in the UK Coffee Week this year.
Meet Rana, one the owners of White Mulberries.
How did you begin your coffee journey?
Me and my husband (boyfriend at the time) met through our passion for coffee in 2003. We found a little coffee shop in Barbican in 2004. Back then our main focus was on serving organic coffee from Nairobi. 2008 was a year of big changes and it was when we decided we needed to relocate to a more attractive place. After a lot of hours spent on research of the place and the specialty coffee industry, we have found the White Mulberries’ current location. We found this unit in 2012 and feel lucky every day to have done so.
What do you think is most unique about your coffee shop?
As well as the view, which is absolutely stunning (you never get tired of it), it is the rotating guest coffee from the top roasters around the world which we get on a regular basis. Our central location (right next to Tower Bridge) allows us to target a lot of tourists, but we also have a steady business of local residents and office workers – we are providing coffee for all of those. London loves coffee and charitable causes and it knows about quality coffee.
What are you planning on doing for the UK Coffee Week this year?
Last year we showcased some of the artwork from the Coffee Art Project. It was a huge success, and we got tons of positive feedback from regular customers and people who had not known about us before. They were contacting us on Twitter to find out how they can come and get involved, to watch and buy the artwork. Everyone was really excited to know that the money was being donated to the amazing cause of Project Waterfall. All in all, it was a really fun week last year, and we’re planning on making it even better this year. As well as donating 10p from every coffee we sell here in the shop, we will be inviting local artists to showcase their work to support Project Waterfall. We want to maximise every opportunity this year, speaking to customers individually and driving engagement from social media. UK Coffee Week is a great conversation starter for developing steady customer relationships.
What music do you play in your coffee shop?
We have a Spotify account, and all of our baristas have their own playlists to have a chance to add onto the daily music in the shop. We show the personalities of our personnel through that. For example, Nico listens to house and electronic music, Ellen always plays blues and jazz singles. Depending on the time of the day we will also play some indie rock or pop.
What is your favourite coffee and why?
Flat white! The combination of coffee and milk is just what you need to wake up in the morning and get ready for the day ahead! It gives me a great boost to achieve more every day.
Which five shops would you nominate to take part in the UK Coffee Week?
Timberyard, Tap Coffee, Nude Espresso, AllPress and Workshop. They are all centrally located, but they also have good customer base that will engage in the idea of the UK Coffee Week. I absolutely love those coffee shops and I would love to see them participating!
Meet Nico, a barista from White Mulberries
How long have you been working in White Mulberries and how are you finding it so far?
It is going to be two years in May. I’m from Italy, and the culture of drinking coffee is completely different over there than in here. In Italy we don’t have that many kinds of coffee, we are always in a rush to drink it, rather than sitting and enjoying it. Espresso, macchiato and cappuccino are practically the only three I had known prior to coming to the UK. However, throughout the last two years I have learnt something new from each and every one of the specialists I observed at work and I have developed a real passion for coffee.
What do you think is the best part of working in the coffee industry?
It’s the ability to experiment and have fun with the coffee. In London, the coffee industry is very diverse and like nowhere else in the world you get a chance to try a range of coffees from different lands, origins, roasters and manufacturers.
Plus it’s nice for baristas to have a chance to make your coffee how YOU want it. The free pour art on lattes is one of my favourite parts of designing a cup of coffee, and I like it being simple and clear.
If you were to pick one song to represent your coffee shop what would it be?
It would definitely be Time by Pachanga Boys. When I’m here in the shop, music is one of the most important things to relax, both for the customers and us baristas.
What’s your favourite coffee and why?
It depends on the time of the day. In the mornings I always have a flat white before we open at 7.30am and it gets very busy. It’s a good time to think about the day ahead and about all the things we want to achieve as a coffee shop. Then around 11.30am I get pour over, a kind of filter coffee.
Any tips for home brewed coffee?
At home I have one of the pour over coffee apparatus, and I try to change the recipe every day to improve it. For filter coffee the best thing to get is paper filter for either an aeropress or a V-60. Above all though, it’s all about practice. You have to make coffee every day and see what works for you.
What are you looking forward to most for the UK Coffee Week?
I love speaking to customers about the UK Coffee Week and the cause that is Project Waterfall. We did really well last year and we hope to do even better this year.