Coffee & Community
If you’ve picked up a copy of Grow magazine before, you will have worked out fairly quickly that there are a few things that really make us tick. Namely, our commitment to relentlessly seeking out positive news, our people-centred approach and the value that we hold for genuine expressions and celebrations of community in and around Exeter.
About a year ago, we started discussing internally how we could express this positive, community-focused ethos in physical form, as well as continuing to do so in our magazine and through our online platforms. We had a whole heap of ideas (some of which got laughed down as quickly as they had been verbalised) and the few that bubbled to the top of our creative envisioning seemed to centre around food and drink. After all, most meaningful expressions of community (whether business or personal) usually involve something nice to eat or drink.
So, with a vision to create a communal space, centred around personal connection and good food and drink, we went about planning and preparing for this next big step in our journey and landed on the decision to open a Coffee House. At the same time, we made the strategic decision to move our publishing team from their previous premises on Pynes Hill into the same building as this new project.
The first big question was, “Where shall we go?”. Long story short, we’d had our eye on a premises at 70 South Street in Exeter for some time and the timing was perfect for us to jump into a much bigger and more strategically-placed home. Positioned bang between three popular parts of the city (Exeter Quay, Exeter Cathedral and Exeter City Centre), we also felt that being so close to one of the main transport entrances to the city was an important factor for opening a busy and thriving community Coffee House.
So, in May earlier this year, our CEO Dan Frye and Project Manager Lewis Tancock went about fully renovating the premises, which had previously been a gelato parlour, but had sat empty for eighteen months. The first step was to create a space for our publishing team to occupy. Every waking hour was then spent taking the building back to a blank canvass before building coffee bars, bench seats, standing desks and kitchen space. The space was then furnished and decorated before finishing finesses and flourishes were made.
And the result? The wonderful, vibrant, bustling, creative, welcoming space that we now call Grow Coffee House, open from 8am – 5pm Monday to Saturday and 10am – 4pm on Sundays. Regularly patronised by members of the business community and the residents of Exeter alike, we have been delighted to see a crowd of regulars develop quickly since opening in July. Freelancers, young families, business meetings, students, networkers, ladies who lunch, remote workers and those just looking for a cosy seat, a hot cup of something tasty and twenty minutes to themselves.
Expertly run by Coffee House MD Rinny Frye who has gathered a team of fun and energetic baristas, Grow Coffee House has already become known for its vibe, its range of local food and drink and for being a place where community happens.
I asked Rinny to share a bit about the Grow Coffee House journey so far and she commented,
“Ever since the moment that we swung open the doors, we’ve been blown away by the reception of the local community. Grow Coffee House has quickly established itself at the heart of Exeter’s community – both for businesses and residents.”
“With our dedication to eco-friendly, locally-sourced supply, we are committed to delivering the very best sustenance to the lovely people of Exeter. We love the city and we want to express that by providing enjoyable culinary experiences for people in a fun, welcoming and relaxed environment. I have to give a huge shout-out to our suppliers who we have carefully chosen, particularly Dean at Corona Coffee who has been incredible to deal with and Oliver at The Exploding Bakery – genuinely the best coffee and cake around!”
To further expand this vision of community-centred business in and around Exeter, our Creative Director George Peters has spearheaded a new project called Seventy (you guessed it, also based at 70 South Street, hence the name) which is a collaborative retail project, exclusively selling goods produced by makers within about a forty-mile radius of Exeter. From gifts and homewares to crafts and edible treats, Seventy is already stocking some amazing produce, with loads more to come in the near future. The perfect place to pick up some locally-made Christmas presents for your loved ones.
I asked George what the project meant to her and she stated,
“With such a strong vision and ethos, it has been such a positive and fun project to take the lead on. As a maker myself (visit www.oohilikethatdesign.com for a sneaky peek), I know what other makers value and prioritise. I have been bowled over by the range, quality and energy of producers that have already been in touch to collaborate with us.”
So, 2019 has been a year of continued growth, excitement and development for Grow. Of course, that has come with its growing pains and difficult moments, but we are hugely proud of what we’ve achieved since launching just two years ago and can’t wait to see what 2020 holds for us. Watch this space!
In the meantime, do drop in to check out Grow Coffee House and Seventy to get a feel for the relentlessly positive, community-focused vision that we have at Grow. The Flat White and Gluten-free Almond and Chocolate Brownie are just a little bit special!
Follow us @growcoffeehouse and @seventyexeter on Instagram for lots of tempting photos and for updates about regular events that are held in our space. To find out more about hiring our space, email firstname.lastname@example.org !
All content by Joff Alexander-Frye