Homeground Coffee + Kitchen has won Cumbria Life Food & Drink Awards ‘Best Cafe’ on two occasions in 2016 & 2018 – definite highlights of four years in business & massively gratifying for both owners and staff who have given so much. Here’s their story and how our relationship with them has developed . . .
Homeground Coffee + Kitchen, Windermere
Back in 2014, when Rich and Jane Metcalfe were offered the chance to take over a café space in Windermere, they laughed it off thinking ‘how do people have the bottle to open a café?’ Fast forward a year and, after tearing the building apart and putting it back together again, Homeground Coffee + Kitchen was born. Today, as well as being pioneers in specialty coffee, Homeground regularly averages 200 covers for brunch – no mean feat for what started as a modest specialty coffee shop.
Where is it?
At the top of cosmopolitan Windermere town, a mile from the busier tourist mecca of Bowness-on-Windermere on the lake, but close to the station, which connects to the mainline at Oxenholme Lake District.
How long has it been there?
Homeground Coffee + Kitchen opened on Monday 18thof May 2015.
Who’s in charge?
Homeground is owned by husband and wife team Rich and Jane Metcalfe who have gone from working 80+ hours a week in the early days to a slightly more acceptable 50-ish hours a week! They now employ around 16 staff with Head Chef, Steven Southern in the kitchen and Supervisor & Head Barista, Christopher Gray out front.
What’s the vibe?
It may be the Lake District, and yes, sheep are plentiful, but no one would accuse Rich & Jane of following the flock. Going against the grain of today’s more typical coffee shops with their edgy, industrial feel, they’ve created a warm, atmospheric space with a friendly buzz that really reflects the Lake District. Think lots of local wood (mostly from the couple’s garden), a feature original slate wall, and a subtle grey and green colour scheme. Jane’s degree in Three Dimensional Design was put to good use to create the impressive wooden counter – built using an ash tree once salvaged by her dad no less – and she also designed and made all of the lighting. Inside there’s a mix of bench seats, wooden tables, and tall window stools to people watch. Heading outside, there’s new timber bench seating mixed with on-brand wrought iron grey tables and yellow chairs.
Who goes there?
Who doesn’t?! Seriously, you’d be hard pushed to meet someone in the South Lakes who hasn’t been to Homeground. It’s a bit of a community hub with a massive following of locals and is the go-to place for visitors in Windermere for a great coffee and brunch combo. People return time and time again and think nothing of queuing outside for a coveted table.
What’s the food like?
In a nutshell, homemade, fresh, seasonal, and tastes delicious. Steven Southern heads up the small kitchen where pretty much everything (except the bread, which comes from just up the road at Lovingly Artisan), is made from scratch including their own tasty jams and sauces. Homeground brunch classics include huevos rancheros, eggs benny, and eggs royale but the legendary Homeground Sarnie is the most popular choice by a country mile (check out theirinstagram& you’ll soon see why!)
What cake should we order?
Good luck with that! Their huge cake counter is packed full of the finest instagrammable cakes from traditional battenburg to chocolate brownies and in-vogue rocky road blondies. Our best tip is to get there early if you fancy their homebaked gluten free and dairy free peanut butter cookies. They literally have their own cult following so never hang around for long!
And washed down with..?
Homeground regularly have some guest specialty coffees from around the UK and sometimes even from Nordic countries, which we like to try out… but Carvetii is their house roaster and our seasonal blend flat white is a bestseller amongst Homeground customers. Rich recommends whatever is in season and likes Carvetii’s fruity espresso with a nice sweet, chocolatey flat white to finish. His best piece of advice in any coffee shop is to ask the barista what tastes good and what they would recommend as specialty coffee is so changeable.
Why Carvetii Coffee?
Although it’s not something Carvetii typically offers, our filter coffee did make its first foray into Homeground as a guest roaster. Rich and Jane liked both the coffee and the relationship with Gareth and Angharad so much they decided to use Carvetii as their house roaster, and have done for more than two years.
What do people say about Homeground Coffee + Kitchen?
Rightfully top of the pops on Tripadvisor, we’ve yet to meet someone with a bad word to say about Homeground. Customers love the creative brunches, homemade cakes, friendly service, and vibrant atmosphere. And of course people are thrilled to find a place that does serious coffee too!
Any interesting facts about Homeground Coffee + Kitchen?
Homeground was once part of a large garage site in Windermere. Next door (now Sainsbury’s) was the mechanics workshop and Homeground was the car showroom. They’ve still got the big glass showroom doors at the front of the building, which can slide all the way open in the summer allowing the smell of real coffee to draw people in like the Pied Piper!
What should people do in Windermere?
Windermere is the more relaxed and dignified neighbour to the bustling tourist town of Bowness-on-Windermere. It has a fairly compact shopping area of individual shops and art galleries as well as being home to the country’s flagship Lakeland store. A mile or so walk will take you down to the lake where you can enjoy a steamer ride around the lake’s many islands or cruise up to Ambleside in the north or Newby Bridge in the south. Fellwalker, Alfred Wainwright’s very first experience of walking in the Lake District was at Orrest Head, just a short stroll from Homeground where you’ll get fantastic panoramic views over the lake for minimum effort.
In a previous life, Rich actually pursued a medical career and has a degree in Biology from the University of Bath. His interest (note: obsession) with specialty coffee won out in the end and Windermere is certainly the richer for it.
What Homeground say about us…
“Truly, we couldn’t say enough kind words about how wonderful Carvetii are. They really, really, care about their customers and its not just lip service, you know they will take care of you and back you at every turn. The relationship between a coffee shop and a roaster is crucial and Carvetii provide us with support on everything from how you brew their coffee to ongoing training. They are unbelievable and the relationship just works. They quickly became more than our coffee roaster as Gareth & Angharad are also good friends. Our ever present Carvetii house espresso makes up about 90 per cent of our coffee sales but much like the guys themselves, you won’t often hear them shout about how great they are or the extraordinary lengths they go to, to make sure their coffee tastes consistently wonderful and their customers are taken care of. We are incredibly lucky to have a WORLD CLASS roaster on our doorstep and are super proud to work with them – they rock!”
What customers say about Homeground…
“We found a coffee blogger who recommended Homeground, and we were so thrilled (and relieved) to find a place that does serious coffee and a proper brunch as well. These guys know their coffee, and the food is fresh, delicious, and bang up to date.”
“I had the best French Toast of my life in this little slice of heaven. Their meals are plentiful, healthy and absolutely delicious. The avocado toast is outstanding, as are the various coffees and sweet treats!”
Best coffee we have had in 3 weeks in the UK
“They have almond milk and they don’t laugh when you ask for it! We only stopped for a takeaway crossing our fingers we may finally find a good coffee in the UK – it was!! A big satisfied thumbs up from us!”
“I imagine when it all comes to an end and you go towards the light, this is what you would find awaiting you (Homeground banana bread & coffee).”
Homeground Coffee + Kitchen is open weekdays 8.30am-5pm and 9am-5pm weekends.
Homeground Coffee + Kitchen, Main Road, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1DX. 015394 44863.
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