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June 26, 2019
We thought it only right to open our new 'At the table with...' interview series with Cupsmith Co-founder, Emma. Pour yourself a coffee or tea, pull up a chair, and join us at the kitchen table to get to know her better. Read on to find out who Emma's hero is and how it all began...
Why did you start Cupsmith?
George and I started Cupsmith soon after we moved out of London to the Surrey hills. After years of whizzing around the city trying to keep up with the pace of things there, we found ourselves in the calm of the English countryside and we loved it.
We didn’t miss much from our old life - except coffee. Good coffee. And tea, for that matter. London has so many brilliant independent cafes and we spent a lot of time in them! Whilst the view was different down here in Surrey we still wanted a brilliant cup of coffee, but with busy lives and children we no longer had time to sit in cafes. Our daily life revolved around the kitchen table: mealtimes, working from home, having friends over ...and drinking coffee and tea. So we decided to set up a drinks brand that would bring the very best cup of tea and coffee to people who, like us, loved sitting at their kitchen table.
We converted our barn into a coffee roastery and set about talking to tea gardens around the world. Twelve months later we opened a chocolate factory and now we make all our own hot chocolate. It’s a real labour of love, but even when we’re at our busiest and feeling the pressure, George and I always say there’s nothing we’d rather be doing, which isn’t something we’ve always said about previous jobs!
What does the kitchen table mean to you? What role does it play in your home and/or business life?
Our kitchen table has seen it all - from family celebrations and dinner parties that went on too late, to hastily scrambled together breakfasts wolfed down before dashing out the door for the school run. It’s a bit of a cliché but for the Crawford family, at least, the kitchen table really is the heart of the home. Great things can happen at the kitchen table - from small daily goings on to big ideas and launching businesses. That’s why it’s the focus of our new interview series, ‘At the table with…’, and we’ve even titled our newsletter after it. It may have seen a lot already, but there’s still plenty more to come from the Cupsmith kitchen table.
What is your favourite thing to do at your kitchen table?
As well as the day-to-day stuff, for me, the kitchen table is also a space of calm and creativity. Whether that’s coming up with ideas for Cupsmith or taking time out to paint, collage or sew. I love craft - all my friends know I love a good creative course! - so the table is often buried beneath a pile of paper, glue and general creative mess.
The children have spent many a happy hour there too: quietly concentrating on cutting, colouring, sticking, ripping, sprinkling, mixing, or making whatever arty activities they dream up.
What’s new in the world of Cupsmith and what’s on the agenda for the coming months?
Lots of lovely things for coffee, tea and hot chocolate drinkers!
We’ve just launched our packaging-free shop. It’s open from Tuesday to Friday mornings every week at Runwick Hill, our roastery in Surrey, and you can buy all Cupsmith coffees, teas, and hot chocolate completely free from packaging. We display everything in huge airtight containers like an old-fashioned sweetshop and customers can bring their pots and tins from home to be refilled. We’re keen to do our bit to reduce plastic waste and unnecessary packaging; as a small business, we can try new initiatives like this very easily. We’ve had a great response so far, so hopefully it’ll catch on.
The next bit of news is that Cupsmith organic teas are now stocked in Waitrose, which is a big deal for a small company like ours! We do everything by hand ourselves, so seeing our labours sitting on the shelves in Waitrose alongside the likes of Twinings is very exciting, and still slightly unbelievable. (To browse our selection of teas at Waitrose click here).
As well as all that, we’ve got some great competitions lined up that you can enter via Instagram (follow us @cupsmith) and our newsletter, as well as lots of ideas and inspiration for anyone interested in arts, crafts, kids activities, cooking, shopping and other fun stuff. Make sure you’re signed up to our newsletter to be the first in the know!
Do you have a favourite Cupsmith tea?
That’s a bit like asking if I have a favourite child. (I don’t. They’re all angelic - obviously). However, at this time of the year I do love our Garden Mint Tea, which we get rave reviews for. It’s a blend of mint that’s light, refreshing and tastes as good as fresh mint from the garden. And it never goes bitter in the cup like so many commercial mint teas. It’s just the thing for that mid-afternoon tea moment in the summer when you come in from the garden, flick the kettle on, reach for the biscuit tin… I’m looking forward to trying it as an iced tea this summer, mixed with ice and a splash of tonic.
Describe your perfect coffee or tea moment at home.
I’m a lark rather than an owl, so my favourite cup of the day is the first cup of the day. Ideally our Breakfast Tea, with a splash of almond milk which brings out a natural sweetness in the tea. I sit at the kitchen table hoping no one else stirs so that I can have a few moments of quiet, and listen as the sounds of the countryside spring to life outside the window. I love knowing there’s a whole day ahead and wondering what stories we’ll all come back to the table with that evening.
Who would you most like to meet over a coffee?
Mary Portas. She’s my absolute retail hero. If I had my career all over again I’d love to work for her agency, Portas, talking to retail brands about how to make shopping brilliant. Our high street is on its knees and the way people shop has changed, but what hasn’t changed is the fact that people still want to buy things, to spend time together and to be social. Retailers have to change what they do and understand their customers, or they won’t win. It’s why we want to show customers that Cupsmith is not a faceless brand - we’re real people, making everything ourselves and we do everything openly. Mary Portas has also written a brilliant book called ‘Work Like A Woman’ and it’s one of my favourite reads at the kitchen table. As a woman working in the very male-dominated world of coffee a lot of it rings true.
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