View The Ground Coffee House’s Business Profile in our magazine on pages 20 – 21; or continue scrolling to read the editorial below:
The Ground Coffee House – based on the bottom floor of the tallest building in the South West – opened in September 2018. They had what Rob described as a “soft opening” primarily for family and friends to come along to and then had their official opening the following month in October.
Rob is a town planner who most recently worked for Plymouth’s Bailey Partnership architecture and construction firm; his wife Felicity works as a Call Handler for the police; Fliss still works for the police and Rob works as a planner for a few days a week.
“I think it was probably a bit of a mid life crisis for me,” Rob explains, “because I was 40 a couple of years back and I just thought that I would like to do something a bit different!
“We had looked at potentially buying a business, but this was the opportunity that I thought suited what we wanted in terms of the space, the location. We live in Plymouth and we didn’t want to be commuting distances because we have small children.”
When they first opened, Rob was working at the shop full-time, but now that they have more staff – both full-time and part-time – he now works three days a week and Felicity works one.
Planning for the business started with the building owners about 18 months before opening and they started the shop fit in May last year.
Rob tells us how he designed the space himself:
“It’s not been to bad actually. I’m a planner so all of this, the design, the finishing touchings and the colours is down to me.
“The overall cost was a lot of money – it’s not cheap doing stuff like this. It’s really a risk to be honest because you’re investing your own money at the end of the day.”
Rob convinced Felicity to take the plunge. He has been in planning since he left university nearly 20 years ago and it was a great opportunity to run a family business and do something different. That’s how the Ground Coffee House came to be!
“Me and Felicity got married in 2008 and had a coffee themed wedding.” Rob tells us, “It’s partially because we’re coffee lover and partially because I wanted to wear a brown suit. We had coffee beans on the tables and all our tables were different coffee names: like mocha, latte, and cappuccino. So we always liked coffee; and since our first child was born we have spent quite a bit of time in coffee shops.”
Rob and Felicity have their own espresso machine at home that they got a few years ago and started messing around with; from there, they did Barista courses to teach them the basics.
The Ground Coffee House is a child friendly business; with large open spaces, toys and colouring.
“I think we’re really good with young mums,” Rob tells us, “because we’ve got the space to push the chairs around. We also do free Babyccinos with every hot drink, which is like a small hot chocolate with some cream and marshmallows on top.
“We have so many returning customers, so when people come they tend to come back. We just need to make ourselves a destination and offer something different and we are different from your average high street chain.”
The Ground Coffee House sources everything locally. Everything is fresh and their cakes are homemade!
The team at OM really enjoyed the coffee and cakes that were on offer. They bake a variety of homemade goods in store, with vegan, gluten-free and dairy free options available too. Plus it’s not just coffee that this shop has to offer!
“We do have a breakfast and a lunch menu.” Rob explains, “I think when a lot of people walk in they do walk back out because they think we just sell coffee, but we do food to! We make everything on site and all of our meat is locally sourced from the Butchers on Ebrington Street.
“We do some things all day – like avocado on toast, teacakes, waffles – all sorts really! We’re going to start doing jacket potatoes in the next couple of months, but we just want to finalise our menu first and stick in on boards for people to see as soon as they come in.
“We’ve also got the fastest broadband – I believe – in the city centre, in comparison to all the other cafes. So it’s good if you want to use our space for work.”
The Ground Coffee House are one of the few coffee shops in Plymouth that make their own cakes; and the quality of coffee that they have is not seen in all independent coffee shops.
Rob tells us how coffee is sourced from Devon Coffee Company:
“They’re based in Plymouth and the coffee itself is roasted in Plymouth. I think we’ve definitely taken the local and sustainable route, we source everything locally and everything is fresh.
“None of our cakes come in frozen, they’re all cooked fresh and we use local ingredients and have local suppliers.”
The Ground Coffee Company offers discounts for students, a Blue Light discount for the Emergency Services and a loyalty card.
“We’ve had quite a few people ask if we’re just for students and we’re not,” Rob explains, “We’re not linked to the building, but we do have student trade. We welcome everyone; we just have to let everyone know that we’re here really.”
The aim for the future of The Ground Coffee House is to make them a destination that hosts regular different events, such as networking, record fairs, and markets; and even though they’ve only been open for half a year, they are getting there. Rob talks more about his plans for the future:
“We potentially have a yoga class starting before we open on a Saturday, we’re currently in negotiations but hopefully we’ll be doing that in the next couple of weeks. We want to be doing as much as we can really because we want to become a community cafe.
“We haven’t got an alcohol licence yet, but we’re looking to apply in the future before the summer. I just need to make sure that we’re getting people through the door and I’m not saying no to people if we can accommodate things.”
The OM team felt very accommodated at The Ground Coffee House and will be returning regularly for the homemade goodies!