North End Road Coffee Shop Started as Market Stall

Owners say festive event help them set up their business

Cafe founders Vinny de Oliveria and George Thornton making coffee
Cafe founders Vinny de Oliveria and George Thornton making coffee

The owners of North End Road’s award-winning roastery Chapter Coffee have credited Fulham’s festive markets with helping them get their business started.

Cafe founders Vinny de Oliveria and George Thornton, who launched the company after trialling their product by setting up a stall at a seasonal market organised by the council in Fulham.

“The markets have been fantastic for us,” said George, 40. “Our stall was a huge success – it blew our minds! It was packed, and we thought that there was obviously demand.

“We loved taking part in the markets and Fulham’s a fantastic place to do business. We have our regulars who come in for their caffeine hit, but it’s just as exciting when a new face walks in – getting to know the local community has been one of the best parts of the job.”

From their market stall success, the business partners bit the bullet and opened their store four years ago after customers continued to return to order bags of coffee.

“The low cost of setting up a street stall to try out products meant that we were on a good footing when it came to taking the plunge,” added George.

Since these humble beginnings the team have gone on to win three Great Taste awards, for three of their coffee blends – Golding, Shakespeare and Christie.

The shop sells coffees of all types – from £2.20 a cup – together with versions with alcohol, iced brews and t hand-brewed speciality varieties.

The bean blends are named after famous authors, a nod to the cafe’s name which was chosen by Vinny’s mum as it was the start of a new chapter for the duo.

A cafe by day, the place transforms into a cocktail and wine bar at night, with sharing platters and Brazilian-style barbecue skewers served with cassava fries.

Interior of North End Road’s award-winning roastery Chapter Coffee
Interior of North End Road’s award-winning roastery Chapter Coffee

George, who hails from Dundee, was in the baking trade, while Vinny grew up in central Brazil, working at his dad’s roastery from the age of nine.

Chapter Coffee’s beans are still sourced and shipped from Brazil, before being hand-roasted by Vinny himself in store.

Vinny’s knowledge of bean cultivation means he’s able to use his sense of smell to sort the best beans for the cafe. Although, finding a perfect coffee for your palate is trial-and-error they warn.

“Different people have different tastebuds,” said George. “In general, South American coffees are more chocolaty, while African coffees tend to be sweeter.”

The pair’s business model focuses on sustainability, supporting farmers with a fair-price policy, endorsed by the Rainforest Alliance, the Soil Association and Fairtrade, and delivering great coffee to west London.

Chapter Coffee also supplies west London eateries, delis, caterers, and other coffee shops, and the pair hope to continue to expand the business’ wholesale and bakery sides.

This year’s North End Road Christmas market takes place on Saturday 17 December.

Running from 10am to 5pm there’ll be something for everyone, with live music and more than 150 stalls selling everything from mulled wine and mince pies to jewellery and home accessories.

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November 14, 2022