Last Saturday I visited a coffee shop that’s on the outskirts of Leeds; one that would probably have never been on my radar until North Star’s Latte Art Throw Down last year. This is Cielo Coffee House in Garforth, found on the edge of Leeds borough.
Twitter is such a brilliant tool for communicating with people, so after a couple of conversations with Andrew Macbean, their Head barista, I headed over that morning. Having a full-on teaching job that regularly leaks into my free time out of school, I like to make the most of the rest of it and cram in as much as possible. That Saturday comprised of a visit to Cielo, my first Kirkstall Deli Market, a cinema fix and Derren Brown at The Grand Theatre. In my book that’s a pretty decent Saturday!
As far as Garforth goes it’s not a place I know that much about, apart from Dumouchel Bakery and the Miller & Carter Steakhouse. So having a decent independent coffee house must bring a tremendous amount to the community.
Cielo was the brainchild of Linda and Nick Castle, the idea of starting a coffee shop resulted from a late night discussion in 2008. When asked the question what they’d like to do if money was no object, they both decided they wanted to do something more worthwhile and fulfilling rather than their day-to-day jobs; something which would allow interaction with their community. Setting up a social enterprise in the heart of the area was the solution, where they would source everywhere as locally and ethically as possible, and also commit to putting all the profits back into the local community.
This social enterprise has two main aims; to help build better community cohesion and reduce isolation and loneliness. One of the things they’ve integrated into the running of the shop is a volunteering scheme, with people who want to get back into work or NEET’s (Young people who aren’t in Not in Education, Employment or Training) from Garforth Academy. There’s even an 84 year-old gentleman who works at the shop too!
In terms of the coffee, they serve a House Espresso blend and House Single Origin coffee from roasters Has Bean. They also serve a range of Suki teas for those partial to a beverage of the tea variety.
Their baked goods come from a range of well-known and trusted local suppliers, such as Garforth’s Dumouchel Bakery, That Old Chestnut, and the brownies are made by Adam, one of their baristas, who originally started as a volunteer.
I’d been up since 4:30am, (my usual waking up time) and was in need of a pick-me-up, so an espresso was in order. It hit the spot and combined with a Dumouchel bake, the Almond and Pain aux Chocolat, which was MAHOOSIVE and extremely delicious, I was set up for the rest of the day!
After spending just a couple of hours at Cielo I felt a tangible sense of friendliness and community from the outset. Their loyal following from Garforth locals was obvious to see, as when I arrived a few minutes before opening time, there was already a number of customers waiting to go in!! It seemed like a place for all ages and a family friendly place too.
In the future Cielo are going to start roasting their own beans with their own micro roaster. It’s a great idea, which means they can directly source from farmers and hopefully not only use the coffee in the shop, but also sell it as well. Nick also aims to expand the enterprise in order to help other communities.
There may never be a reason for you to venture into Garforth, but if you ever do you should definitely pop into Cielo, where the phrase ‘coffee community’ takes on a whole new meaning.Cielo Coffee House 41 Main Street Garforth Leeds LS25 1DS 0113 286 3534 http://www.cieloonline.co.uk