Inside CoffeeHaus - the new coffee shop that's championing local produce in Sunderland city centre

A new coffee shop is defying the tough business climate to open its doors and champion local, independent suppliers.

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 6:00 am

Just a week after it opened its doors for the first time, CoffeeHaus in St Thomas Street has served hundreds of cups of coffee – despite it only being able to offer takeout at the minute due to the pandemic restrictions.

Up to £20,000 has been invested in transforming former under stairs space in 808 Bar & Kitchen and former changing rooms at the existing Port Independent to create the new venture, which is housed within the clothes store.

It’s the brainchild of Port Independent director Gerard Purvis and CoffeeHaus owner Ashley Bell who has years of experience as a barista.

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CoffeeHaus coffee shop owner Ashley Bell has opened up in Port Independent clothing store.

The pair are passionate about flying the flag for independent businesses, never more so than in the current climate, and have forged strong partnerships with their suppliers

It’s the only coffee shop in Sunderland to sell Baristocracy coffee, which is roasted fresh to order in North Shields. Meanwhile, cakes, tray bakes, truffles, pastries and more come from Sunderland-based bakers Whipped Goods Co and Elliot Hall.

Ashley says she’s been delighted with the response so far.

"The customer support has been crazy. We had a soft launch in the first week and a girl came all the way from Newcastle to get a coffee from us because she had seen we were opening on Instagram,” said Ashley. “There’s not many other local independents in the city centre and we have kept this business as local as possible, which is so important, especially now.

The shop has been created in space beneath the 808 Bar & Kitchen staircase

"It’s been a scary time to open a business definitely, but it’s also a good time because people are really starting to appreciate local businesses more. They care about the story behind them and they don’t want to lose them, people are tired of seeing businesses closing. I think going to a coffee shop is a small bit of normality for people with everything that’s going on.”

The new venture has created two new jobs, with the view to employing up to three more people in the future.

Once restrictions have lifted, CoffeeHaus can seat up to 16 people and there’s plans to make it an extension of BierHaus, a craft ale shop also housed within Port Independent.

The plan is to install pumps within the coffee shop so that people can also enjoy a beer at the site, which has its own entrance on John Street, as well as access through Port Independent.

You can pick up a range of coffees for takeout, as well as teas

Gerard said: “CoffeeHaus is a a subsidiary of Port Independent and an extension of the BierHaus brand. Me and Ashley had spoken about the idea of a coffee shop for a while and it all came together in lockdown. Because 808 and Port Independent (which have the same owners) were closed in lockdown it gave us the chance to renovate the site. Much of it was done ourselves and it was a real labour of love.”

He added: “I think sometimes people can get a bit put off when they see a long list of coffees, but we really want to make the coffee accessible for people, while keeping the quality.”

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Sunderland-made truffles on the counter
CoffeeHaus can be accessed from within Port Independent in St Thomas Street, but it also has an entrance in John Street.
Baristocracy coffee is used in the brews