Independent coffee roasting business, Chipp Coffee Co. is on a mission to bring great quality speciality coffee to a wider audience.
Owner Zach Chipp, 29, began his coffee career at restaurant chain, Jamie’s Italian. He started as a bar tender but quickly progressed. He said: “I ended up being the company’s coffee champion and moved on to work for their coffee supplier. Then when the supplier offered me a job, I moved to London. In 2016, I started my own business out of necessity when I was offered a job as consultant. After a few years doing that, I thought ‘I’m going to practice what I preach’ and I started some small batch roasting projects. Launching a coffee roastery was something I always had in my mind.”
By late 2018 Zach had moved back to his home town of Leeds to put down roots and plan for the relaunch of Chipp Coffee as an ethical and sustainable specialist coffee business. Being near to family meant he could enlist the help of his brother, Alastair, who is involved in the sales side of the business.
Zach’s plans to find new premises for the business during 2020 were initially put on hold by the pandemic. He said: “We looked at a few different places to move into. Then we had to put it on the back-burner during Covid, until we found our feet again. When I saw the arch at Czar Street, it was quite a cool little space and the size, price and location were all just right.”
Since relaunching, the company has been working full throttle to build a community that is passionate about great coffee. It connects coffee farms and producers with roasters and is helping to attract a broader audience of customers who want to drink coffee that is sourced in the most sustainable way. The principle of community building also extends to the independent artists and other local independent coffee producers with whom they’ve collaborated on a series of projects during lockdown, including working with a local artist to produce a limited edition coffee pack to raise funds for NHS charities.
The business opened in its new location in October 2020. Zach said: “During Covid, the wholesale side of the business completely disappeared. With everything going on there was a delay to our original plans, but luckily lots of people working from home still wanted their coffee. I introduced more of an online and social media presence. We’ve got a loyal, strong customer base and it has been heart-warming to see them and catch up with them on social media, which I probably wouldn’t have done before lockdown.”
When the UK formally left the EU in early 2021, the business faced new challenges. Zach said: “Brexit started hitting us harder than Coronavirus. A lot of import routes to get coffee into the country are via Amsterdam and it has been a problem. Packaging from the Netherlands has been delayed by weeks and huge import taxes are applied.” But Zach believes the industry will be able to bounce back. He said: “I feel very positive, it has been amazing to see how resilient the industry is. I still feel good about the future.”