A brief discussion with Jonathan Prestidge, director of Repack Espresso.
What’s your hometown and what led you to Bath? Brixham, Devon. My wife and I were moving back to the UK after several years living in Greece and Amsterdam. Bath seemed like a great place to live, and was equidistant to our respective parents.
Tell us a bit about Repack Espresso! How long have you guys been open for now? We opened in mid-March this year, so we’re just coming up to the six month point.
What’s the story behind it? What made you decide to open your own place? I first became interested in speciality coffee after visiting Colonna and Smalls in Bath during their early days. I was amazed with the way in which coffee could be made into something much more complex and interesting than I had previously experienced. I’d spent the last ten years in higher education management and was looking for a change, and to do something I was passionate about – so my wife and I took the leap and opened our own shop.
Where does the name ‘Repack Espresso’ come from? Repack is the name of a dirt track in Marin County, California, where the very first mountain bike race took place. Mountain biking has been a hobby of mine for more than twenty five years, and we wanted a name that reflected our interests and was related to cycling, so Repack Espresso fitted the bill perfectly. The word ‘repack’ also reflects the repacking of our lives for the adventure of starting the business.
Before the Repack Espresso days, what were you up to? I’ve been a teacher, a project manager for dotcoms and have worked in various management roles in the university sector.
What’s the best thing about having your own place? Meeting interesting people and serving them great coffee!
Down to your serious business: coffee! Where do you usually source your beans from? What sort of tastes can we expect to find in-store right now? We have a number of suppliers, the main ones being Round Hill, Square Mile and Nude Espresso. We only use high end single origin/single estate coffees and are meticulous about their preparation.
At the moment we’re running an Ethiopian natural espresso that tastes like strawberry cheesecake in milk, and an El Salvador espresso that tastes like banoffee pie as a flat white. This may sound far-fetched, but those flavour notes are quite pronounced! We’ve also got a Kenyan filter made with the Aeropress that has a lovely juicy peach and mango flavour profile.
You’re definitely more than just coffee though! You also stock some great biking goods that we definitely need to get our hands on. How have you integrated your love for cycling with Repack Espresso? We’re cyclist friendly with racking for bikes outside, and products inside. Most of these are spares/lights/etc, but we also stock Torq energy gels and bars, which we think are the best and tastiest around. I’ve been biking for many years and have competed in mountain bike races and Ironman/half Ironman triathlons, so I would class myself as a keen cyclist. I also enjoy taking part in Sportives.
Aesthetically, we think Repack Espresso is stunning, both the interior & the logo design. What inspired the design? Jo, my wife and business partner, is the creative brain behind Repack. For the logo she wanted something that reflects the mountain biking background to our name but is also clean and uncluttered. She came up with a basic triangle with a wavy line that replicates the elevation profile of the Repack course. She had always loved the look of OSB which, like marble, has it’s own unique patterns and a warm and tactile quality. She wanted to mix this with natural and black-painted wood as well as the clean white walls which form a canvas for our menu boards and, soon, some artwork. The school chairs, stools and tables mix nostalgia with an industrial feel but are also solid quality, like the coffee we serve! She has collected stainless steel-ware and quirky souvenir spoons for a long time so wanted to incorporate this into the design too, so her touch is in everything, even down to the sugar bowls!
During your launch, you hosted an after hours Latte Art competition right? Any events lined up for the near future we should be popping along to? We’re always interested in running events – watch out for some coffee cupping events later in he year. We also offer barista training to the home user and aspiring professional baristas. My past career as a teacher definitely helps me to get the best from people in these sessions. I’m also keen to do some bike-related events and am working on something at the moment.
When you’re not busy in the shop, whereabouts do you like to unwind? Any great places we should be heading to? I like mountain biking on the trails around Cheddar Gorge, cross country running and hanging out with my wife and young daughter. Favourite places to eat/drink are currently the Sheppey in Godney Stoke (really cool pub in the middle of nowhere), Bakers and Co in Bristol and The Curator Cafe in Totnes, Devon.
Any plans for the future, both for yourself & Repack? We’ll continue to source the best coffees in the world and will look to expand our food offering. I’m really interested in finding flavours that complement our coffees – much like a restaurant matches food with wine.