How do you build a concept for your business? Daniel Campbell had a red telephone box and experience in the catering industry. Add to that a strong desire to offer great products and customer service and you get a café for coffee lovers and foodies who value a personal touch.
The train station coffee market is, I imagine, a world of cut-throat competition. On the way in to Haymarket station you pass a Starbucks, then there are two coffee shops on the concourse (ATM and Red Box Coffee). If you pass them and decide you wanted a coffee after all, you have another opportunity to grab a cuppa from Pumpkin on the platform. In this environment, you have to have stand out, have something to entice customers in.
Red Box Coffee has the cheerful, iconic look of a classic British phone box. It also has cheerful, helpful staff who remember (and value) their regulars. They have cakes from Cobb Cakes (owned by Daniel’s extended family and the root of much of his experience), roast their own coffee, serve their own tea, offer a range of interesting soft drinks and snacks.
The Haymarket phone box is the first step in an ambitious plan. I expect that we’ll see Red Box Coffee grow over the next few years. There are so many commuters our there, just asking for a decent cup of coffee and a friendly smile in the morning.
Look! No dust
I’m quoting my favourite cereal packet but the slogan also applies to Red Box Coffee’s teas. They blend their own teas and use ingredients that look like what they are. I love that Red Box Coffee’s herbal teas are roughly chopped chunks of roots and fruits, not finely ground powders, letting a few ingredients do all the talking and refusing to depend on hibiscus for colour.
So, what did I eat and drink?
It is all about the coffee. The Americano is a two-shot with a good amount of water. It has depth and is mellow but with hints of acidity. The kind of coffee I like: not over-roasted, not trying to take my head off with bitterness but with enough character to stand up to milk.
A note on milk: Red Box Coffee gives you soya milk without charging extra because ‘It’s not your fault you’re allergic.’ Kudos.
Sandwiches and salad come from Margiotta’s. They ensure that there’s a good range of gluten- and meat-free to appeal to all tastes and diets. I tried the superfood salad: quinoa, roasted butternut squash, walnuts, pomegranate seeds and lettuce. Full of flavour and texture, very satisfying.
Haymarket Train Station (soon also Bruntsfield and online.)