A bit about us:
Tom and I (Corey) met at a coffee cupping. I was working in Coffee no.1 but was spending all of my time outside of that in specialty coffee shops. Through that I found out about a cupping hosted by Paul Ross who was then working with Kiss the Hippo.
The first thing Tom and I bonded over was that at that cupping we were both into the same coffees. We were both hovering over the same bowls, and so it kind of made us think we had a similar palate or at least that we were both into more experimental coffees. Swindon doesn’t have a huge coffee scene so it was nice to make that connection. We started going to coffee shops all the time, around the UK, drinking coffee together and learning about coffee and the scene.
Then by the time covid happened we found ourselves in a weird situation where there was nowhere to get a decent coffee in Swindon. So Tom and I put our heads together and decided to make a coffee shop in my house, we made a little bar in the gap under my stairs and served coffees out of the window. Tom and I were in a bubble together (remember bubbles?), and he decided he was going to bring over every piece of coffee equipment that he had, which was a lot! So we set up a little coffee shop, called it Staircase Espresso. It was great, we had loads of people coming to the window and picking up flat whites.
So that was kind of the test run for me and Tom as coffee shop co-owners. But after lockdown, I went back to working in a coffee shop and Tom went back to being a footballer. But we kept talking and thinking about what we liked and didn't like that other coffees shops were doing.. it was becoming pretty clear that we wanted to do our own thing in a slightly more real way.
We wanted to make a space where it was super stripped back and minimal, but not in its aesthetic. That's what we ended up building. Just a couple of railway sleepers, some ply and a lot of black paint. We wanted a space that we could do whatever we wanted with. Like for example, the other night we used it as a bar and we open that whenever Oink Gallery is doing an exhibition. We're hoping to DJ nights in the future... coffee cuppings... it's just really adaptable in that way. We wanted it to be a kind of a place where we could do that kind of thing and Mark from Oink has been hugely supportive and helpful. It's a big part of why we chose the space.
We found the space through Luke Knotts (Basement barber shop) who was in the space before us as a barbershop, we came to make filter coffee on a Moccamaster and Thom Hobbs came and took pictures and then we heard Luke was moving and it just kind of fit!
Here we are, like nearly a year later and we're still loving it and we love our regulars. We're excited to see what comes next!
Interview by Will Davies from
Standart magazine and Owner of Mec Coffee in Cardiff.