The city’s first micro-roaster has opened a new coffee shop and store, with an on-site bakery from Noisette Bakehouse and dedicated Coffee Academy.
When North Star Coffee launched their micro-roastery 4 years ago, they never would have imagined that one day, they would open their own little retail empire. But that’s exactly what they’ve done, as they’ve launched a new coffee shop & general store at Leeds Dock. It’s a big step for them, and one that has seen them join forces with another beloved independent to create a winning combination of great coffee and great cakes.
“Our aim has always been to raise the standard of coffee across the board and get more people drinking quality, ethically sourced brews,” Holly Bowman, Director of North Star Coffee, told us. “Having our own retail space was never in the long term plan but the opportunity arose and we can’t wait to showcase what we do to visitors who might never have interacted with our brand before.”
Given their coffee expertise, it’s surprising that they’ve never thought about opening a shop before, but actually, there’s a very logical argument behind it. As a wholesale coffee provider, they didn’t want to step on the toes of their clients, so when they moved to Leeds Dock, all they really planned to do was move their roasting operation and open a new Coffee Academy.
Then they were given the chance to expand, with a shop that would sit side-by-side with the roastery – the temptation was too much, and so the North Star Coffee Shop & General Store was born. The location was key. It’s far enough out of the city centre that they’re not competing with their wholesale customers, and it’s so close to the roastery that they can give customers a start-to-finish experience.
“We loved the idea of people visiting and seeing the whole process, learning more about what we do as a specialty coffee company,” Bowman explained. “Having that control over the whole process seems such a logical step to encourage a continuous loop of feedback from consumer to grower, helping us to constantly improve what we do.”
So, let’s get to the good stuff – what are you going to be drinking? Well, they’re always going to have two different espressos, but they’ll be seasonal, so you can expect to try something new every time you visit. They’ll be chosen to offer contrast, giving you a choice of two very different single origin coffees – one that’s more balanced and one that’s a bit more contemporary and fruity in flavour.
Like the Coffee Academy, which will be running alongside the North Star Coffee Shop & Store, this will be a chance to experiment with coffee, learning as you drink. It’s something they’re really passionate about at North Star, and they’re in a unique position to do it.
“Since we have started, we’ve worked to put together a seasonal selection of single origin beans to showcase the incredible variance in flavour profile existent within coffees from across the globe,” Bowman explained, and they’ll be showcasing beans that are sometimes hard to market, given the financial pressures faced by local coffee shops and the skill set required to work with them. “We will also be sourcing some exclusive lots that will only be sold through our retail space, helping people to discover some of the really special producers that we work with.”
Alongside the espresso, they’ll have filter coffee, with a focus on using unique equipment to showcase a brewing style that is often overlooked, but actually works really well to showcase the complexity of speciality grade coffee.
And it’s not just coffee. They’ll be giving tea the same treatment, bringing it up to a standard that can compete with their best coffee. In fact, they’ve gone all out, fitting a tap that dispenses water at three different temperatures to bring out the best in the tea, and working with a specialist supplier who sources organic, loose leaf tea from micro-gardens across Asia. They’ll have everything from breakfast tea to green tea with jasmine petals.
And, there will be alcohol too. Expect a hand-picked selection of craft beer, from the likes of North Brew Co. alongside coffee inspired cocktails and premium gins.
Now, how would you like to hear about the food? The North Star Coffee Shop & General Store is a collaboration between two like-minded independents, as Noisette Bakehouse will have their own on-site bakery. It was a no-brainer for Bowman, “The collaboration with Noisette was a natural step for us having grown up with them since we both started out in 2013. We have seen what they are capable of and knew we didn’t want to work with anyone else when it came to our baked items. Their approach to seasonality and flavour is very much in keeping with our own and we are really excited to bring together the expertise in both businesses to create a menu that celebrates our love of food from across the globe and our commitment to environmental and social responsibility.”
Noisette Bakery was set up by Sarah Lemanski in 2013 and she’s now been joined by her sister, Hannah Mather. Together, they’ve been hard at work on a host of new recipes to pair with your coffee. So alongside their famous brownies and Morning Cakes, you’ll be able to try a host of American-inspired bakes – how would you like a monster blueberry breakfast muffin coupled with an Ethiopian filter coffee? It’s not just cakes though. They’ll have all manner of different takes on toast, as well as granola, oats and porridge, with a focus on food to go.
All this will be served up in a venue that takes inspiration from North Star’s sourcing trips. Local interior designers, Revive, have worked with the team to incorporate textiles and colours from East Africa and Latin America into the design. They’ve tried to create a cool, but welcoming space, filled with light, plants and colour – essentially, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a brew.
They used local, sustainable materials wherever possible in the North Star Coffee Shop & General Store, because that’s an important part of who they are. The values that grew from the roastery are mirrored in the shop, as Bowman confirmed, “It’s a neighbourhood space promoting values of quality, ethics, traceability, collaboration, environmental responsibility and support of independent business.”
And they’ve gone one step further in that mission with the launch of their Spotlight coffee cups. Designed to buck the industry trend, they’re made with 50% recycled coffee cup fibre and are 100% recyclable, unlike the bulk of coffee cups, which are non-biodegradable.
The North Star Coffee Shop & General Store is an exciting addition to Leeds, one that’s going to set the bar for speciality coffee establishments – so go on, jump on the water taxi and check it out next time you need a seriously good caffeine injection.
The North Star Coffee Shop & General Store, The Boulevard, Leeds Dock, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1PZ.