Just Ground is a Bristol blue oasis of caffeinated delights, sweet surprises, and savoury morsels bang-smack in the middle of the fountains, right between Broad Quay and St. Augustine’s Parade. Serving sourdough pastries, artisan cakes and a variety of house and guest-roast coffees with a smile (Wriggle recommends the quite spectacular Dr Strangelove Espresso), there’s no primer spot in town to learn to stop worrying and love the brew.
We had a little chat with the kiosk’s owner; Arrow.
Tell us a bit more about the origin of Just Ground.
Just Ground Coffee Kiosk was created about ten years ago and used to be called Fair Cup. A very on point name considering that the stall was the first Fairtrade coffee kiosk in the city of Bristol. Back then, there were only a few coffee shops around. We are the third owners of Just Ground, which has been the name since the second owner, since 2014. Since my wife and I took over, we’ve been slowly changing the formula of the stand.
This shift has meant moving away from being 100% Fairtrade to also housing direct trade coffee. This because the quality of Fairtrade coffee has gone down over the years and that it is easy to give the supplier a fair wage when directly trading with them as opposed to through an agency.
With the addition of speciality coffee, pastries and cake we’ve made a point about providing quality and consistency while staying local and organic.
What do you love most about what you do?
Running a coffee stand is not easy, something I feel many people don’t realise. Especially considering that we don’t have our own water supply – we go into the local florist for this! I love the customers. A lot of them are long time regulars, and some people have been visiting Just Ground since the first owners. There is a lot of loyalty, and they are friends to us. They taught me a lot by sharing their stories and helping with the stand – some people even helped us push our blue box to where we are now when the city council made us move. I’m also very much in love with coffee and changing people’s idea of coffee.
Coffee is not just coffee; it is an experiment. It should be about taste, not just about waking you up
What do you love most about Bristol?
Bristol is simply a lovely city with a great sense of community. I wouldn’t want to move anywhere else. It is local, first and foremost. It has a vibrant independent food and drink scene, a beautiful harbour view, and overall just an atmosphere that screams independence.
What are your favourite places in Bristol to grab some coffee or get some food when you’re not working?
My favourite independent coffee place is hands down Small Street Espresso. I used to live right next to it and went there a lot – Jack helped me with ideas for Just Ground when we first took over. And then there is food. Bristol is full of great places, but my favourite place to grab a bite is Chomp, right behind St.Nicks Market. It’s a small steak restaurant that serves amazing burgers and has a quality that is incredibly consistent. I go there almost twice a week.
What coffee would you recommend to a first-time customer?
Definitely a flat white (with Dr Strangelove Espresso). The thing with coffee from America, for example Starbucks, is that it is not what coffee is supposed to be. What you get is basically a large cup of milk; it completely destroys the flavour. A flat white is simple – just a shot of espresso and milk foam, keeping the taste of the blend intact.
Do you have any plans or dreams for the future?
Yes. We’ve already made some changes – brought in pastries, cake and sausage rolls from local suppliers – so there’s plenty more of this to come. The council also insist on us staying in the blue box as opposed to the new container which we’d were looking for, to help us stand out as much as possible. In any event, a new logo and a new name are already in the works with the help of some designer-customers. We even have a customer who’s an architect, to look at what we can do with the stand to make it pop from the inside and out!