The best kept secret in Suffolk nestles at the entrance to Clopton Park, a dynamic business estate in the heart of the countryside close to Woodbridge. First Coffee Shop, inspired by London café culture, has outstanding coffees, organic teas, delicious fresh food and lifestyle retail – all with a healthy dose of Suffolk chill.
It’s a distinctive mix that attracts cycling groups, classic car owners, dog walkers, families and folk looking for something deliciously different, as it’s open seven days a week. Oh, and it’s a popular onsite café for Clopton Park businesses too.
You sense the vibe as soon as you park (plenty of space) outside the gates. There’s an industrial feel to the sliced-open containers that provide outside covered seating, heated when it’s cooler. Or there are bench tables on the grass, where people can spread blankets at weekends.
The warmth of the welcome inside is matched by the skill of the trained baristas who craft a coffee just how you like it. Sourced from Crude Coffee Roasters in Bury St Edmunds, the coffee shop serves its own single origin Honduran house roast as well as a great selection of other flavours and blends from artisan coffee roasters around the UK.
The food is yummy, freshly prepared and constantly changing. Predictable it ain’t. First Coffee Shop sources from artisan makers in London and East Anglia, including Suffolk’s Harvey and Co and butcher Revett & Son at Wickham Market.
The team who run it have plenty of experience in the hospitality industry, bringing their passion for food and drink to Clopton Park.
Says manager Neil Canfer, “It’s a destination with personality, totally relaxed. We aim to surprise people with our street-food takeaway style. It’s a great social space in the countryside for people to meet up and not have to worry about parking or time. It’s like the ultimate popup, but we’ve been here for years and word-of-mouth brings new visitors every week.”
Those visitors include performance car enthusiasts (think Porsche, Lamborghini and then some), cycling clubs from far and wide, families from local villages, Woodbridge, Framlingham and Wickham Market, people with kites, drones or dogs (just not all at once) and, of course, coffee aficionados.
“There’s a fantastic coffee community in Suffolk,” adds Neil. “Our retail and online business in speciality coffees has grown and we’ve added distinctive brands of cold drinks, beers and wines, chocolates, snacks and lifestyle items you don’t find elsewhere.”
First Coffee Shop is like a boutique store in London, a dose of Soho House in the the country. They also do private parties, evening events, wedding receptions and anything people want to conjure. Yep, they’re licensed for alcohol. When their pizza oven fires up on Fridays, there are custom treats in store, often created by chef Kevin Foord, who also happens to shoot fashion photography for the likes of GQ and Esquire magazine all over the world when he’s not helping run First.
The love that the team put into their food and coffee reflects the vision of owners Richard and Victoria Ford, who wanted to create a coffee shop with a difference on their doorstep. They succeeded!