Hopper Coffee situated on the picturesque Godstall Lane have been trading since the end of September 2015.
Owner Mark Higgins: “I’ve worked in hospitality since I was 15, through independents and chains, in Chester and all around the UK. Ive also worked in New Zealand, when I came back I decided to open my own small business.
“It was very difficult to find somewhere in Chester where we could afford to rent. This was a good spot on a beautiful lane and gives us somewhere we can get a foothold in the city.
“We do sandwiches, toasted sandwiches and bagels.. We do breakfast items, salmon and bacon bagels. We try and keep everything affordable and ready to go, because what we’re aiming at is people who don’t get a full hour for lunch. All the coffee we use is full fresh Espresso.” Hopper use a Bradford based supplier for their coffee which is a blended from beans from Brazil and El Salvador. “Its fantastic as an Espresso but also works really well with milk, so its really versatile. Its got great depth but its not too acidic , so its very easy to drink.
Mark says that the challenges of being an independent in Chester include “getting people to know you’re here, marketing… Being able to afford somewhere slightly off the main street, makes it harder to get your name out there. Word of mouth plays a fantastic part in getting the trade in the first place.
“I think the Council do as much as they can in terms of small business rate relief. They were excellent when we were doing the change of use. The problem is private landlords, the council are limited in what they can do. People that own the buildings can do what they like. You see places siting empty because they’re too expensive. There are places near here, for £1000,000 and they have been sitting empty for two years. The rateable value is what it should be , but rents is where the problem lies…”
In 2016 Hopper are looking forward to the first anniversary of the business. “The main thing is doing our own food in house, it gives us a lot more flexibility and freedom to do our own thing. Its fresh and homemade. “We started off using a local producer for the sandwiches but we’ve changed now to producing all of our own food in house. So everything is made fresh every morning. “Christmas was fantastic, and also inbetween Christmas and new year was good, the hard work begins now, we’ll keep working and see what we can do !”