After a few minutes in Bath’s Colombian Company, I quickly realised that the warm feeling spreading through me wasn’t just the effect of the silky smooth latte I’d been given by owners JP and Veronica.
From the homemade cakes on the counter to the mementos of JP’s South American homeland and the affectionate smiles passed between the husband and wife team, every corner of this cosy coffee shop seems to ooze with a sense of love and care.
JP points to the photos of smiling Colombian coffee farmers on the wall, naming each one, telling me about their farms, their families and which one grew the delicious coffee I’m now sipping.
“When I set up The Colombian Company, I knew from the start I wanted to work directly with small producers. I grew up watching many of them struggling to compete with the big corporations so for me it’s really important that the coffee farmers grow as we grow,” JP explains. “I wanted to give something back.”
The warm atmosphere that greets you as soon as you step through the door is the perfect combination of the cosiness of a traditional English cafe with a bit of Latin American fire. A pretty delicious combination too when you try it in the form of one of the Colombian Company’s toasted sandwiches, stuffed with spicy guacamole from a secret family recipe.
From Colombia and Spain originally, JP and Veronica have lived in Bath for almost 30 years combined. They met in a bar in Bath, got married in the city’s own Parade Gardens, and now have a family here. They love walking in the park where they were married and watching their son play for Bath City under 9s.
The coffee shop is very much a tribute to their heritage. Veronica shows me the Colombian coffee sacks JP uses to transport all the beans himself and the collection of traditional Colombian sweets and chocolate that customers can buy to take a little taste of Latin America home with them. “Like with the coffee, the money goes directly to local producers. We want every part of the shop to be as ethical as possible”, she tells me proudly. I find my foot tapping along to the lively salsa music in the background and spy a poster for Spanish conversation classes hosted at the cafe.
But, Veronica adds, “We also wanted to pay tribute to our home here in Bath. We love living here. We wanted the cafe’s interior to be a combination of all our favourite parts of our new home as well as our old ones. We made all these wooden tables and counters ourselves”, she points to the lovingly polished surface my coffee is resting on.
“They’re designed to make you feel as though you’re in the South American forests where JP grew up, but made by us here out of local English wood.”
She laughs, reminiscing about traipsing across most of the saw mills in the South West to find the perfect Douglas fir.
Tucked on the corner of Bath’s cobblestoned Abbey Green, JP and Veronica’s little Spanish haven is surrounded by the most beautiful and historic parts of the city. Far from being at odds with the quintessentially English view out of the window, the Colombian Company embraces the best of both worlds. And very successfully too judging by how warmly the coffee shop has been welcomed by Bath locals.
In every way what JP and Veronica have created is a match made in heaven – or more specifically, Bath.