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John Watt

Women’s Network Enjoys a Coffee to Go …

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, Carlisle. Members were keen to meet Lola – the new roasting machine installed this summer to cope with the increase in demand already experiences and to give the business 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 her 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 capacity to roast a greater volume of quality coffee. The coffee market has grown dramatically in recent years, and the age of the business has its advantages; as Carol explained.

“We are so well establised that we can pick and choose what’s good about the latest innovations, but we have the depth of experience to keep our coffee contantly great.

“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,” she said.

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. Her 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 a chance to sample three different coffees and discuss the flavours and merits of different ways to brew coffee. One of the latest product benefits to be introduced is the option to create on-pack branding and messagin.

Tracey Errington, chairman 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 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 donated money raised on the night to Eden Valley Hospice – which is the John Watt & Son’s charity of the year.

Anyone interested in coming to along to events in the future can contact Tracey Errington at