Meeting up for coffee and cake took on another dimension for members of the Penrith Rural Women’s Network when the group visited the newly opened John Watt & Son’s coffee shop at Blackfriars in Carlisle. Members were keen to meet Lola – the new roasting machine installed this summer to cope with the increase in demand already experienced and to give them capacity for growth.
John Watt and Son is an iconic 152-year-old business in Carlisle which was taken over in 2015 by network member Carol Johnston and husband Peter. The new coffee shop on Blackfriars Street was opened to accommodate Lola, the new, state of the art roasting machine that has the capability to roast a greater volume of quality coffee.
The coffee market has grown dramatically in recent years so being 152 years old has its benefits as Carol explained. “We are so well established that we can pick and choose what’s good about the latest innovations, but we have the depth of experience to keep our coffee constantly great. The ‘hipsters’ are increasing the profile of coffee which is fantastic, it’s bringing a new wave of customers and a sense of occasion to coffee drinking which is good for everyone. It’s certainly helped increase our profile and our growth too.”
Carol discussed with members how the wholesale business has grown considerably in the last two years then handed over to Jen Pollard their specialist Coffee Roaster. Jen explained how roasting coffee is as much a science as it is an art, with a set profile and standard that needs to be met on each roast. The passion for creating the perfect cup of coffee was very evident. Jen has been a roaster for a decade and explained how different levels of roast create different aromas and flavours.
Members had chance to sample three different coffee’s and discuss the flavours and merits of different ways to brew coffee. One of the latest new product benefits to be introduced is the option to create your own on-pack branding and messaging.
Tracey Errington, Chair of the Penrith RWN said “Carol suggested our own brand label so we worked to create a Penrith RWN brand – Coffee Connection. It was a surprise and real talking point for members. We all chose our favourite coffee beans to bag or grind and Carol’s team packaged them it into our own bags. It was a fun addition to the end of the meeting – it puts a new meaning to a takeaway coffee!”
Carol kindly donated money raised on the night to Eden Valley Hospice – which is the John Watt & Son’s charity of the Year.
Carol (centre) with her team Paul Rawlinson, Jen Pollard and Mary Randall
Penrith RWN Coffee Connection in a bag