As a small family-owned brand and business, we always like to support the local economy as much as possible through the materials and tools that we purchase. Further to this, we also like to champion local independent businesses that have managed to establish themselves, steady the ship, and grow in what's been a pretty unpredictable economy over the past few years.
One of our favourite Northampton businesses located in the heart of the town centre - Yellow Bourbon Coffee Roasters - Produces the finest coffee from some of the highest quality beans, ethically sourced from all around the world.
There are many coffee shops in Northampton but YB (as it's known locally to some) stands out. The bold logos and fonts used throughout their branding and storefront instantly set them apart from other chains and fellow independent coffee shops. Their unique approach of roasting their own beans onsite, tucked away upstairs, always gives you a pungent hit of caffeine as soon as you walk through the YB doors and this method allows them 100% quality control over all of the coffee that they serve up.
Since opening its doors in 2017, YB has always roasted their own beans and this production process was cleverly built into their business model from the start. With their strong branding and continued quest to source the highest quality from all around the world, wholesale distribution was always part of the plan. This arm of the business has allowed them to become a presence in several other locations across Northampton and nationwide to include, bars, cinemas, bakeries, and several other places where you can enjoy a really good cup of coffee.
Inevitably, as wholesale accounts grew and with more and more people now buying to brew at home, roasting production increased and they grew out of the upstairs space at the back of the shop in Angel Street. This is when owner, head roaster, coffee expert, and all-around great guy - Steve Peel - decided it was time to take it up a notch.
With their Angel Street shop now a popular Northampton landmark as well as a regular after training stop off for pretty much the entire Northampton Saints Rugby Club squad, the shop remained and roasting production was moved elsewhere. The solution, was a large new unit that could handle the extra roasting production and provide adequate space for future growth. Located further afield, but still local, in quiet Northamptonshire countryside settings.
This is where we met with Steve for a catch-up and a tour around the new premises complete with specialist machinery, shiny industrial pipes, and snazzy storage solutions. It's also worth noting at this point that when we were offered a cup of YB coffee, the only option was for it to be served turbo charged as Steve didn't have any sugar or milk in the building. Being fully out in the remote countryside, nipping to the nearest store or off-license wasn't an option but the sample we had was very nice all the same though.
Now as much as we're fans of Steve's coffee, Steve's also a fan of our Crown Northampton footwear and we have run content features related to YB not once, but twice before. Steve's had a custom (coffee themed obviously) colour of our Abington top cap sneakers made, and then resoled, after some serious continued daily wear and hard graft in the shop. Then he moved on to a pair of our Woodford Desert Boots in Horween Chromexcel for a different experience, and then on to our best selling Overstone Derby in All White.
After a few over-the-counter order conversations, we decided to set up a 'People & Product' meeting to have a good nosey around the new roasting set up and have Steve pick his new favourite Crown Northampton Shoes in a colour combination of his choice - And guess what people? He chose our Overstone Derby Sneaker in a once again coffee bean-themed colourway of brown calf leather on a gum sole! Passion for product and continued consistency are always key so there were no complaints from us.
Take a look at the images from the day along with a quick Q&A with the man himself, Steve Peel. Enjoy!
What were your reason’s for making the jump into roasting your own coffee and setting up shop on your own?
I set up on my own because I never found any joy in employment in any area. I was the same at school, I truanted a lot because I felt I was there against my will; Having a job always felt the same until Monmouth Coffee took me on and they had a company ethic like nowhere else I had come across, they genuinely seemed to give a shit, primarily about what they were doing, and also about all their relationships in and around the business.
How did you come up with the original concept, ethos and branding for YBCR?
The ethos at YBCR is entirely influenced by Monmouth Coffee. There’s a bit of my chippiness added and I very much enjoy the punching-up aspect of starting a small business on my own. We don’t try to compete in areas the bigger companies have the edge, like pricing, freebies and gimmicks. We just make sure everything we do conveys the message of quality without trying to be exclusive.
What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of working for yourself and creating your own product?
The most rewarding part of the business is that enough people are enjoying the coffee to allow me to hire a great team of people and do my best to give them the sort of job I always wanted, and get them so good at it that I can leave them to it and piss off on my canoe for an afternoon. That freedom over my own time is far more important than income to me, and I constantly remind myself of that when grand schemes come to mind.
With your roots firmly planted in Northamptonshire, how important do you feel producing locally is to you and your brand when selling further afield and exporting?
I am very much rooted in Northamptonshire, having never moved from here. That’s not something I’m especially proud of and I think the 6 years working full time in London was very important to my development, but that’s how life has worked out and I still live here. My family on my mum’s side mostly all worked their whole lives in every area of the shoe industry in Rushden and around.
As you’re now on your 4th pair of sneakers or shoes from Crown Northampton, that pretty much classes you as a regular. Tell us some of your thinking when choosing this pair of Overstones as you’ve almost gone full circle back to your original pair in terms of colour and materials.
My Crown Northampton shoes. Yes love them all. I’m into the ‘buy the best quality you can’ ethos and these shoes do it for me. My first pair I think I sat on the sofa all evening admiring them, they’re so beautifully made. I wore them completely to death. I had them resoled at the factory too. I absolutely did not want to part with them but after 4 years they looked a little worse for wear and I had to replace them. I just wanted the same kind of shoe again! They’re breaking in a bit now, I like them best when they’re more broken-down then broken-in. Like an old slipper.
You can shop Yellow Bourbon Coffee Roasters product selection here.
All colour ways of the Overstone can be shopped here.
Photography - Alex Natt & Ben Lloyd