This has obviously been a big career change for you – was there a particular moment that you thought “Enough with the teaching. Let’s open a coffee shop”?
I previously worked in coffee shops before I went into teaching and always thought that I would one day open my own, somewhere where I’d do art classes and the things I’m doing now. But I stayed in teaching longer than I thought I was going to and I kept getting attached to year groups. Then I think last year the government had changed so much about education that it didn’t actually feel like it was about the kids anymore and I just thought now is the right time to go, so that sort of forced my hand.
You’ve described your shop on Facebook as “food and drink with a story” – what’s the story?
We’ve got two house coffees and one of them is a single origin coffee from Thailand called Doi Chaang, which used to be a cocaine plantation. The King of Thailand decided that he didn’t want this tribe to be making cocaine anymore, so he bought them some coffee plants and told them to grow that instead. Every product we sell has a little story like that behind it. We’re mostly vegan so the products that we sell are vegan as standard and anything that isn’t vegan is labelled on our menu, so we are opposite of what you would normally expect from a coffee shop. We are left field, but right minded.
How did you decide which local businesses and suppliers you were going to work with?
Ethical ones first of all. I wanted to support local and global communities so we chose to use Karma Cola Company for our soda pops because they are Fairtrade, they give back to the growers of the cola in Sierra Leone and they use organic produce. Most of the products have been chosen for the work that they do for communities, whether it’s locally or globally.
We’re hearing a lot about these Buddha bowls… what can we expect from them?
The Breakfast Buddha Bowl consists of a smoothie base and then you top it with fruit, nuts, seeds and syrups and things like that. The lunch time Buddha bowl consists of salad leaves, carrot and cucumber as a base, and again you top it with the things you want. You choose which other vegetables you want, whether you want cheese or avocado then what seasonings and dressing you want. We’re calling it ‘create your own adventure’, like the little story books they used to have. It’s not a set menu, you come in and have what you enjoy. But it’s all really good for you.
So what are your personal favourites on the menu?
I like a Dungeons and Dragons Smoothie Bowl which consists of avocado, kiwi, spinach, spirulina, apple and then I like topping it with fresh berries because the raspberries and the strawberries against the green looks really pretty. And then I top it off with some coconut and beetroot granola and some chia seeds. I’m quite partial to a Folks Gold latte which is a turmeric and coconut tea but I also like a cup of Earl Grey Cream which is one of the loose leaf teas we do.
What about the ‘penny pledge’?
We don’t think that people are fooled by the whole 99p thing. So instead of charging £4.99, we’re going to charge £5 and donate that penny to charity. Each month we will give to a different charity. This month one of our barista’s chose Cancer Research because a couple of our staff have had family members with cancer in the last few years. But each month, the charity will be nominated either by a member of staff or by a member of the public. It’s a penny from every item, not just every order. So if you come in and order two coffees and a brownie, then 3p of that goes to the pledge and then at the end of the month we will put up on our board how much we sent to the charity.
What sort of creative activities do you have planned for this creative café?
I was an English teacher and my second subject was art. We’re going down a creative and a literary route so I’ll be teaching some poetry workshops and some creative writing classes myself. We’ve also got a book club called the Banned Book Club, so we’ll be reading books that have been banned somewhere in the world or that were controversial. And my daughter who is an art student is starting an art class for seven to 11-year-olds on Saturday mornings. But then we’ll be doing some more art workshops in the evening, such as life drawings, some still life or portrait classes, and those events will start building up as the year goes on.
Your plan to start a book club shows that you still have a passion for English… is there anything else you’re going to miss about teaching?
I’ll miss students that I left behind. I had quite an attachment to my year tens last year to so I’m going to miss them. I’m hopefully going to try and keep in touch with the school and find out how they are getting on, and a lot of them have said they’re going to come in and do the workshops to keep in touch. Maybe in September I’ll start missing the classroom a little bit but hopefully by then I’ll be my own boss and still be able to teach upstairs so I’ll still get a bit of that joy. I won’t miss the paperwork.
What are you most excited about during the grand opening on Monday 1 August?
Because we’ve soft launched over the past week, what I’ve found nice is finding ‘our folks’, our sort of people that are coming in. The creatives are coming in and finding their space here, which is really nice to see as there isn’t a lot of that in Bingham. We’ve had an art club come in and they are keen to use our space and that’s really nice to see, that actually there is a market for this and we’re finding the right people.
Finally, how would you describe Folks and Fables in one sentence?
A quirky, creative, ethical, nutritious, delicious good place.
Folks and Fables, 37 Long Acre, Bingham, NG13 8AF
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