Meet Blend

Notting Hill has a hot new coffee spot. Independent cafe blend has moved into our Westbourne Grove store and it’s proving a hit with fashionable locals. From fresh pastries to chocolate and avocado cake, you’ll find the delicious treats that have made blend such an institution in its flagship location in Harringay. That’s before we even mention the coffee… We caught up with co-founder Linda to talk starting an independent business, Jigsaw and moving into a new neighbourhood:

ON CAREER CHANGES
“Both Steve (fellow founder) and I left our jobs before we decided to start blend. But we knew we had the right idea when we found ourselves short of a café to spend time at in the local area and realised there were lots of residents around us feeling the same. We also found lots of young families and professionals and creatives had moved to the area, and already a strong online community was emerging, so we put community at the heart of our venture. Blend in Harringay is now as much a local community hot spot, where most people know each other, as it is the perfect place to just chill out and while the time away. I know that from my own experience as a new mum!”

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ON WESTBOURNE GROVE
“Last summer we received a letter from Janet Martin, Jigsaw’s Licensing & Business Development Director. She explained that Jigsaw wanted to broaden their customers’ shopping experience and invite independent coffee shops into some of the Jigsaw stores, and that she wanted to talk to us about it. Literally a week later she sat in our shop in Harringay and told us she would like to consider us for the Westbourne Grove store. We like the emphasis that Jigsaw makes on getting independent coffee shops to join them, all the Jigsaw stores are different and this will give them an even more individual feel. Westbourne Grove is a beautiful shopping street, but also part of a very residential area, something which we know and like a lot from our original shop in Harringay. And of course, the store is beautiful, we especially fell for the little courtyard at the back where we have a couple of tables now.”

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A TYPICAL DAY AT BLEND
“In blend Notting Hill, our new store within Jigsaw, we are in the process of meeting the locals. It’s a great space and great backdrop for our coffee and homemade food. We bring in the bagels, focaccia, cakes and pastries early from our kitchen in Harringay, then we set up the outside seating, both in the front and in the cozy courtyard, and dial in the espresso machine to make sure the grind is appropriate for the temperature and humidity of the day – it’s quite a science to get the espresso just right, but it’s worth the effort and I secretly think it’s every coffee geeks favourite part – they get to taste it a lot! Once we open the doors, especially on weekends, the day flies by between chats with locals and tourists, and a lot of action and noise at the grinders and the coffee machine. The locals have praised the quality of our coffee and we have quite a few regulars already!”

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ON ORIGINS
“Steve and I toured almost all the small roasteries that have sprung up in and around London in recent years. There are some great beans out there, but it was exactly one blend that stood out for both of us – Climpson and Sons Estate blend. It was almost a Eureka moment, and we were happy to find that we had also discovered a great team of people at Climpsons, who’ve become friends in the process, so we had no doubt that we wanted to bring their beans to Notting Hill, too. We still use their Estate blend for all our espresso based drinks, and we have a changing selection of single origin beans that we use for pour over, Aeropress and Chemex brewing techniques. With these we can extract the purest flavours from the beans. You will be amazed what different flavour notes can come from different regions and roasting procedures, and “bitter” is not one of them! That’s why we’ve recently added Chemex and Aeropress to our menu in both coffee shops, it’s the next new thing after espresso! We also grind our decaf fresh to order from Swiss water processed beans, something I’ve come to appreciate a lot recently!”

ON THE FUTURE OF COFFEE CULTURE
“The focus on quality combined with the personal touch is the most important thing for independent coffee shops, with that they will always have a knack over chain stores. If the person behind the counter knows your name, not because he’s asked you for it as a matter of company policy, but because he’s been serving you every day and knows how you like to drink it, and has been genuinely interested in what may be going on in your life, then that’s the place you want to go back to (Sorry to go all “Cheers” on you, but that’s what happens in a truly local and independent coffee shop).  This combination is what blend is all about. In general for independents, there is loads of future potential in new locations – in certain pockets of London (Notting Hill is one of them, just like Harringay was when we started there) and especially beyond London as more and more people pick up a taste for truly well-made coffee. In terms of drinks, coffee fever is spreading and we expect speciality brewing methods to leap into mainstream within the next couple of years. We’re certainly big fans!”

Plan your visit to blend Notting Hill in-store at Westbourne Grove. Don’t forget to Instagram your snaps with the hashtag #JigsawWestbourne, too!

 

Author: Jigsaw

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