Anita and I have just run some errands together after closing the cafe, and we find ourselves driving along one of the backstreets in Harehills, which used to be our meeting point on Friday mornings for her to jump into my car and for us to spend the morning together. She reminded me today that it was in the same car, at this same spot, that we talked about the lack of somewhere to go for coffee in Harehills. We just wanted to meet and chat and hang out together, but we had to drive away from Harehills for that; either up the road to Oakwood or Street Lane, or back to my house, where our friendship was truly forged.
Who knows what might happen in the cafe on any morning? We used to say that every day at the cafe was different; had it’s own story and theme, and today’s might be something to do with becoming a real, bona fide, proper cafe.
It all started quietly enough, with a lovely small crowd of ladies, Pakistani mums after the school run, sitting in a circle, waiting for the rain to ease before heading home. In walked two older ladies, white British, who, after pottering away in the kitchen, sat and enjoyed a morning drink and a pastry. We were laughing about one thing and another, comparing recipes and sharing stories. A typical TLC moment, really.
In walks Rob, a coffee connoisseur, engineer by profession, involved in a fab social enterprise roasting and selling coffee beans (Clever Goat Coffee – check them out!) bringing us some spare bags. We invite him to join us, ask his favourite cuisine (traditional Scottish, if you’re asking – weren’t expecting that!) and he is soon enjoying the banter with us all.
I ask if he’d like a coffee, then, realising my own coffee geek limitations, invite him to make the coffee himself, and perhaps he could give me a quick lesson as he does it, with some tips for perfect frothy milk and the ultimate espresso… and soon the two of us, and one of our older ladies, are inspecting the size of the milk bubbles (yes I’m sure there is a technical term that I’ve forgotten, doh!), counting down the seconds for the espresso to be ready, and enjoying the sound of the steam wand hitting the milk at the right angle and depth to make that proper cafe sound of the espresso machine in action.
Before I know it, it is 11am. I look around and the cafe is heaving, standing room only, and suddenly I’m in demand for my lattes – pressure! I’m trying to knock them out quickly, butt my latte art is turning into latte modern-art, but the feedback is good; the cafe smells fab with the coffees and pastries, the sound of the chat is electric, and as I look around, I have a huge smile on my face; we did it! Anita and I really have created a cafe, a proper cafe, in Harehills. Wow.