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Travel Stories and Guides by Table Magazine

A collection of travel stories and guides by Table Magazine and contributors from around the world.

Cafe Highlight | Bristol

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None of you had worked in the food industry before Convoy. What was the reason you decided to start this venture?

Owning a coffee shop has been a long term dream of Colin’s (one of the owners) since he worked in coffee in Melbourne, Australia and was inspired by the high quality and availability of such great coffee (and brunch food!).  Years later whilst working at Paintworks with Josh (one of the other owners) and feeling pretty frustrated by the lack of decent coffee in this particular part of Bristol the Airstreams became available and it was a no brainer.  They clubbed together with their buddy Zak and the dream became a reality.  

It’s almost Convoy’s first birthday, what has been the biggest lesson you have learnt in your first year?

We’ve had SUCH a fun first year! It feels so significant and at the same time so normal that we have made it through all the seasons and we are still going strong. There are so many things that none of us knew before starting out and Im sure that all of us would have a different answer to this question…but for me (Hannah) personally Its been a real learning curve  managing not only my first coffee shop but also being part of a start-up.   I walked into this role fairly clueless (professionally speaking) and so the list of lessons learnt is long and detailed but the biggest is fairly obvious to me.  Team is everything - I would never want to do this on my own.  Aside from the practicalities of running and sustaining a busy coffee shop that logistically can’t function with only one member of staff (I’ve done the odd day alone and its not fun), this business would be a mess if I was trying to run it alone.  Being part of a team of 4 separate people (myself and the 3 owners) that are all making decisions and have different preferences can be challenging at times.  We all have different ways of doing things and can often run in different directions…but ultimately this enables us to cover more ground.  We draw on each others strengths and cover each others weaknesses…and I for one have learned so much from doing business with 3 very different people.  I have learned that doing it my own way doesn’t always work (that one wasn’t fun) and that there is so much more potential when you put 4 heads together father than one.  I have felt challenged and pressed and encouraged and trusted more in this role than any other Ive worked.  The countless lessons I’ve learnt through investing as part of a team will stick with me for years to come. 

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What inspired the interior style of your airstreams?

We wanted to go for a minimalist, white, light and scandi style to keep the coffee shop clean cut and modern without loosing the character of the interior of the Airstreams.  It took months to strip it all back to its original state having been most recently transformed into an American Diner (picture black and white checked flooring and shiny red bar stools). The end result is something we are all really proud of and feels in keeping with our original dream.  Throw in a bunch of hanging plants and small succulents and you’ve got a guaranteed instagram-able coffee shop.

As great coffee is so important to you, how did you decide on which roaster to use?

Zak is originally from Cornwall so going with a roaster that was close to home was important to us.  Origin offers not only an incredibly high quality and vast variety of beans but they have also been such a great support to us in the process of opening Convoy.  They trained all our baristas and have given us countless advice and guidance when it comes to setting up a specialty coffee shop.  We are super grateful for the relationship we have with them.  Our guest roaster is a roaster based in Stokes Croft called Triple Co Roast.  His coffee is a cut above the rest and incredibly popular not only at Convoy but across Bristol.    

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What is the most popular dish on your current menu?

Our menu is fairly limited and so ever-changing to keep it fresh and interesting. Our kitchen is small but right now our most popular item on the menu is our Veggie Toastie.  Inspired by a classic cheese and onion with a little flair.  Its made with freshly baked sourdough and filled (literally to the brim) with Mozzarella, Cheddar, Spring Onions and Chilli Jam and sprinkled with Rock Salt before serving.  

We always love to hear about peoples favourite local restaurants. So, where would you recommend in Bristol?

There are so many great places in Bristol but our top three would be as follows… We absolutely love Squeezed.  Its a burger place down in Wapping Wharf.  They just won the 2019 National Burger awards and it was well deserved.  We also love Pasta Loco in Clifton.  The pork belly linguini with pancetta wrapped poached egg is potentially the best thing Ive ever eaten.  EVER.  Im salivating just writing this.  Harts Bakery is the final place that we would all rate incredibly highly.  The whole team at Convoy has a real soft spot for their sausage rolls and pastel de nata.  The bakery is at Temple Meads and a must try if you’re travelling through

Do you have any exciting plans for Convoy over the next year or so?

We have a few things brewing so watch this space!

Credits
Interview by Hannah Gambin
Photography by Colin Ross

Thank you to the whole team at Convoy for sharing their story and and favourite food spots with us!