Nick Birss (24) has settled back home, bringing with him Laneway & Co, Newcastle’s latest coffee shop, on High Bridge Street, and a nod towards Australian coffee culture.
Nick was inspired after working for a friend who runs coffee shops in Melbourne, where some of the best coffee spots in the city are found on small side streets or in alleyways known as ‘laneways’.
Although Nick had spent many years living away from the region, from his time studying for a journalism degree at London’s Brunel University, to the three years he spent travelling Australia, the North East remained an ideal place to kick start his first business venture.
“Despite leaving the region at the age of 18, I chose to come back because I grew up here and feel like I know the place better than anywhere else so I was comfortable making a decision when it came to going on the hunt for a space to convert,” he said.
“I also think Newcastle is a great city but its potential has perhaps been overlooked by independent speciality coffee shops. Cities like Manchester and Edinburgh have popularised a vibrant coffee culture and Newcastle is on the cusp of it, having some fantastic establishments already so it was the perfect time to open up shop.”
The latest addition to Newcastle’s burgeoning small business scene has been welcomed with open arms by likeminded businesses, with fellow coffee shop owners in the city showing their support.
Nick said: “The independent coffee scene in Newcastle is growing fast, and the stalwarts have been very supportive of my start-up on High Bridge since we opened our doors in June.
“Within days, the likes of the guys from Pink Lane, Flat Caps and baristas from the Ouseburn Coffee Company came in to show their support – we all have the same passion and are on a common mission to change how customers consume coffee, and that is good for all of us.”
Laneway & Co aims to showcase some of the world’s best growing regions, from London to Malawi, with its coffee selection changing seasonally.
And although the business is all about coffee, a selection of homemade sandwiches, fresh savoury bites and cakes are also on offer for visitors looking for a bite to eat.
“The reaction has been great so far – we get everyone from those grabbing something between meetings to those who like to linger with their laptop or a magazine to enjoy the coffee shop experience throughout the afternoon,” added Nick.
Now, only weeks after Laneway’s opening day, coffee loving Nick is already looking to the future, with plans to open other Laneway & Co cafés across the North East, already singling out Durham as next on his wish list.
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