We have been selling coffee and tea to the good people of Lancaster since 1837, originally as a start-up at No.1 Cheapside in the centre of town, the next address found the Grasshopper Tea Warehouse moving up to the more salubrious setting of Castle Hill as 'Wholesale Dealers of Tea and Spice'. By moving to our current shop on China Street in 1901 with its Terrazzo floor, pre-dating the shop itself, marking out the old room layout of what was the Lord Nelson Inn, the canny Quakers sought to saturate this den of iniquity with the cleansing power of tea and coffee. By commissioning the shopfitting from Waring & Gillow, who gave us the shelving and spice-run of drawers, with its unique Uranium glass knobs and the Georgian Canisters and Scales that are still familiar to us today and now feature in many an Instagram shot, the Edwardian Atkinsons, having profited from the Victorian era from beginning to end, sought to make a real retail statement, giving the shop its mainstage for the conduct of Trade. The intention here was clearly to profit from more of the retail trade to be found in the footfall on this busy new high street location.
Although now showing a patina of age, the shop is practically untouched and the old mahogany counter with its vintage scales still encourages every transaction to become a conversation, while our vintage Uno roaster rotates to a regular samba rhythm in the window, billowing smoke out into the streets to beckon the regulars and the randomers alike to come worship at the temple of coffee! A pilgrimage to Arabica!
In winter months the old Romesse pot-bellied stove in the middle of the shop is lit to set the scene with a crackle of kindling, before a shovel of anthracite provides a central glow to dry shoppers off or simply warm their cockles and relax their purse strings.
The real innovation lies behind the scenes. Just past the back wall, where the Master Roaster's leather apron hangs, the building opens out into our huge new eco-build roastery where our shiny stainless steel roaster, the Loring Kestrel gleams, flanked by the two vintage steam-punk Gothic industrial 1930s Whitmees, now a backdrop to the Internet Department, where online orders are packaged up every day, usually within hours or even minutes of their arrival into our inbox, as we try to keep pace with the modern digital world moving at the speed of light!