In a coffee class of its own
by Belinda Davies
There is no disputing that Flat White has firmly established itself as the most popular caffeine-fix solution in Durham, since it opened in 2010. Famous for its rocky roads, hot chocolates and its fresh, tasty and generously filled sandwiches, but most importantly for its superior coffee which is indubitably second to none, this coffee house is run by double act Patrick Clark and Peter Anglesea, 26 and 24 respectively. The pair were at school together and then met again 5 years ago whilst working in the café at the Gala Theatre, and took it upon themselves to fill the coffee-less void that was Durham city.
Their mission was to usurp the all too familiar tasteless, scalding gloop mechanically churned out by the likes of Starbucks and Costa. The eponymous ‘flat white’ coffee has no compromise in taste and originates from Australia, where Patrick was trained as a barista, so he trained up Peter and they pinpointed their spot, formerly known as ‘Dirty Jane’s’ kebab shop, just off Elvet Bridge. After 3 months’ hard grafting; redecorating it completely by themselves and sourcing all its idiosyncratic accoutrements such as the quirky mirrors, lights and sewing-machine tables, they set up shop in November 2010.
With its chilled vibe and tastefully eclectic interior, the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, and the food is first-class and totally unpretentious. Banana bread, millionaire’s shortbread, scones, flapjacks, cupcakes – nowhere else in Durham offers up such a reliable array of really excellent cakes, for which the credit goes to Patrick, an aspiring baker who has a way with the wooden spoon. Particularly commendable are his white chocolate and raspberry muffins and the deliciously moist banana bread, which makes other specimens pale into bland and tasteless insignificance.
Flat White certainly has a select group of loyal supporters and fans, who are to be found within on a daily basis, and the pair were indeed immediately a massive hit with the students and locals alike. After the first six months managing between the two of them whilst juggling two jobs, the team began to expand to meet its high customer demand. All their ingredients are sourced from Durham market and are fresh, local and organic, and the coffee beans are always obtained within 5 days of them being roasted, having spent months testing hundreds of different beans in order to find the very best: Patrick and Peter are serious about their coffee.
Flat White are launching its very own T-shirt range which goes on sale next week, and their next enterprise is the prospect of coffee classes, to educate and provide an understanding and appreciation of the art that is coffee-making. They also hope to open a second establishment and even to roast their own coffee, and the future will no doubt see them expanding their empire certainly within Durham, and quite possibly beyond.