Coffee is the new black – blend and fashion
You may have already heard it – the S/S 15 season has started with a great new project for us – and I’m not talking about Baby Maia (though she has been with us every step of the way, attending her first project meeting at the tender age of two weeks).
Our beloved cafe now has a little baby sister!
Blend Notting Hill, our new cooperation with Jigsaw in Notting Hill, opened its doors at the end of March, right on time for the beginning of spring.
Many people have asked me how it all happened. Last summer Jigsaw approached us, looking for an independent coffee shop to join them in their Westbourne Grove store. As part of a new strategy to offer their customers a more diverse shopping experience through high quality independent coffee shops, and with a real coffee connoisseur for a CEO, they had heard about blend by reputation and came to meet us one sunny summer morning in Harringay.
We were instantly excited and saw that the Westbourne Grove store within its residential setting was a superb fit for us. At the beginning of 2015 all signs were set to go. Blend joined Fernandez & Wells in Jigsaw Duke Street and the Bogota Coffee Company in Jigsaw Milton Keynes as the third independent coffee shop that was welcomed into a Jigsaw store. As part of the partnership we were involved into every element of the planning process, but this time we didn’t have to lay the floor and build the bar ourselves! Instead we got to work with a fantastic team of professionals (you know who you are!), who made it look so easy and who pulled off an incredibly tight project schedule. The planning phase brought a few headaches, mainly related to getting items onto the site on time, but the final transformation from a menswear retail floor into our gorgeous little coffee shop happened in only four days. On Monday the store was cleared, on Tuesday the perfectly designed counter and back bar went in, on Wednesday plumbing, electrics and furniture were installed and on Thursday we moved in with our equipment, most importantly a fabulous, slightly smaller version of our grand old La Marzocco coffee machine, two Mazzer grinders and about 20kg of our excellent Climpson and Sons coffee beans. It was a mad day of unpacking boxes, installing gear and soothing little Maia who clearly felt our excitement, but magically it all came together.
On Friday morning we opened our doors with only one hour delay to a sunny day and a truly welcoming neighbourhood in Notting Hill. Westbourne Grove is a beautiful high street with a little square and flower shop in the middle, some very exclusive clothing stores and a number of excellent eateries, such as Ottolenghi, Daylesford and Granger & Co. Such famous and long established company can be intimidating to a fairly new, tiny and independent undertaking like ours, but many locals have let us know that our combination of great coffee, homemade cakes and yummy fresh sandwiches are a welcome addition and also a complement to the existing offering on the street. And of course, there are never enough chairs to sit in the sun and let the bustle pass you by anyway, especially on a weekend when people seek a breather from the madness of Portobello Road two blocks on.
It may be much smaller and looks a little different, but it’s blend through and through. It’s our focus on great coffee, our homemade cakes, sandwiches and other treats, as you know them, only halfway across town. And most importantly, it’s our people too! Be it baking cakes, making sandwiches, or trecking across London with us every morning to work a few shifts, each member of the blend family has played their part in starting up this new shop. On top of that, a number of our regular customers have been to visit already. (They were probably missing Steve, who’s been spending a lot of time in Notting Hill this last month. Please don’t worry, he’ll be back home in Harringay soon!)
The opening of our second blend coffee shop has brought back many memories from two years ago, when we were literally on our hands and knees laying parquet flooring in the original blend cafe. Since then, so much has happened. As we had dreamed, blend has become a fixture in the Harringay community – giving our stretch of Green Lanes a village feel where many people know each other. I never walk far with Maia’s pram without stopping for a chat, something I’ve never experienced before in London – or any other big city for that matter. Now I’m starting to see familiar faces when I’m pushing Maia around Notting Hill, too, and we hope that it will turn out to be an equally wonderful experience for us.
We have an exciting summer coming up, and what better way to kick it off than with a proper party at blend Harringay. Our two year anniversary is coming up, and we’re going to have a birthday bash! Watch this space for announcements, and keep the diary free on Friday, May 15th.
Until then, as always, see you soon (in Harringay and Notting Hill)!
Linda and Steve