When this weeks Meet The Local goes live, my guest for the week will have been awake for over two hours serving the early morning commuters with their much needed dose of coffee. You’ll find Charlie from Charlie’s Coffee & Company by the Ridgmont Road exit of St Albans City Station every morning, come rain or shine, so I’m excited to learn a little bit more about how her dream became a reality.
The one thing do I love most about my job is… the conversations and the range of people I get to meet. In one day alone I talk about so many topics I can barely remember where things started, one chat leads to another, something sparks off something else. It’s never dull.
Sharing a laugh with a stranger is pretty special, and getting a wave from a regular as I drive the van down the road always makes me smile. Having fun with my customers is really important to me, sharing a laugh and crafting their favourite coffee so that their day is a little better is a real privilege.
I also love the creativity that running your own business offers you . There’s never a boring moment, every idea, decision and thought is your own, and I find that really motivating.
I ended up working in my current job as… I’ve always dreamt of having a café, I used to create a pretend café in my garage at home and serve my family on repeat for most of the day (lucky them!) I studied Psychology at University but never felt inspired to follow that path, so instead I wrote a business plan and immersed myself in every aspect of coffee shops and cafes as that’s what excited me and inspired me.
I wanted to do something fun and exciting, graduate jobs just weren’t floating my boat so I worked in several coffee shops to gain experience and work out the kind of thing I wanted to do.
I moved to St Albans over a decade ago and quickly realised that no one was selling speciality coffee, this seemed like a great opportunity. The speciality coffee scene was only just getting going in London and street-food was just kicking off, so I knew there would be a demand for it. I stumbled across these funny little 3 wheeled vans when on holiday in Greece and researched them when I got home. Everything started to fall into place.
I negotiated a pitch at St Albans station and started getting up at 5am to serve the commuters at Platform 4. After many years of building up a regular customer base, I opened my shop on London Road where my café dream finally became a reality.
The best piece of advice I received was follow your heart, do what you love and do it with integrity.
My most memorable moment was when… I opened my coffee van for the first time in 2008 after months of work and years of planning, I was full of excitement and nerves but ready to give it my all.
Pub in St Albans: During the week, you can usually find me having a cheeky pint in the cosy Verulam Arms, when the sun is out I head for the White Lion, the White Hart tap when it’s pie week isn’t too be missed and I love a drink in The Boot if I’m in town.
Place to eat in St Albans: I spend a lot of time in London finding exciting places to eat and drink, and also love driving out into the Chilterns to see what’s going on food wise, my faves are The Alford Arms or The Mash Inn. When I’m in St Albans I love a bar snack at friendly Dylans on George Street, a huge bowl of babbaganush with flat breads at Tabure, some thoughtfully sourced food from Lussmans or a pizza at Per Tutti.
Memory of St Albans: When the Odyssey cinema opened it’s doors. The queue for tickets on the first ticket release day stretched from their door to opposite my shop. It was an incredible sight!
Place to have a coffee: I love a little local place at number 87 London Road, can’t quite remember the name of it
Place to buy a present: I like spending a while selecting beers from The Beer Shop and getting them to make up a gift pack of delights, further into town I like to pop into White Mint for a bit of fun and for things you didn’t know you needed. I also think you can’t go wrong with popping into our near neighbours The Odyssey to pick up a voucher for a friend to enjoy a film night with a bottle of wine.
Thanks a latte (see what I did there!) to Charlie for being my guest this week and make sure to pop in for a coffee at 87 London Road. There’s also Charlie’s “after hours night” where they serve cocktails, wine, beer and bar snacks. It’s usually held on the last Thursday of the month and is a super fun evening – the next one is the 26th April.
Remember to check back next Thursday to see who my next guest will be! I’d love to hear in the comments below which local you’d like to know more about.