There are coffee shops and then there are ‘coffee’ shops and The Moon & Sixpence certainly falls into the second category. A specialty coffee shop, The Moon & Sixpence has been awarded ‘Best Neighbourhood Coffee Spot’ by respected coffee blog, Brian’s Coffee Spot who said: “the barrier that sometimes exists in coffee shops, between behind the counter (staff) and in front of it (customers) is entirely absent here.” In fact, these guys are so passionate about coffee that owner, Stephen and barista, Teddy, have been out to a Costa Rica coffee farm to understand the whole coffee chain; from picking the coffee cherries at source; to serving up full of flavour cuppas back home in Cumbria.
Episode 2: Coffee with Angharad MacDonald, owner and Head Roaster at Carvetii Coffee – Carvetii
Where is it?
The Moon & Sixpence can be found on the main street of the Georgian town of Cockermouth on the edge of the English Lake District… just look for the big ‘Coffee’ sign outside! Cockermouth is often referred to as a ‘gem’ town and The Moon & Sixpence is one of its true gems – people flock here from all around to try their fabulous coffee.
How long has it been there?
The Moon & Sixpence opened quite fittingly on International Coffee Day (when else?!) – 1st October – 2016.
Who’s in charge?
Owned and run by Stephen Kidd alongside partner, Melissa, the concept of The Moon & Sixpence had been a work in progress in Stephen’s head for more than 10 years after developing and nurturing a thirst for specialty coffee.
What’s the vibe?
Stephen has put a whole chunk of his heart into The Moon & Sixpence so it’s no surprise that the overall vibe is one of warmth, relaxation, and community. The warm welcome and friendly atmosphere hits you as soon as you walk through the door into the hustle, bustle, and buzz of the small coffee shop. It’s like being enveloped into a big hug from your favourite long lost friend…plus great coffee!
Once you’re comfortably seated, there’s so much to take in. Interesting artwork from talented local artists and photographers on the walls, which changes throughout the year, and fresh produce from a local organic farm to buy and take home as well as a selection of Carvetii Coffee retail bags for sale.
Who goes there?
The Moon & Sixpence has such a loyal clientele that daily regulars have been known to sit outside in the rain just to get their coffee (and Stephen) fix! People come into Cockermouth from the surrounding areas of the Lake District for coffee and during the holiday seasons, lots of tourists make a beeline for The Moon & Sixpence including coffee afficionados from Australia and around the UK. Aussies and Kiwis have even been known to say it’s ‘the best cup of coffee in England!’ It’s also popular with cyclists looking for a coffee and cake pit stop. In Stephen’s own words, “it’s a safe space for anyone to come and just feel good.”
What’s the food like?
At The Moon & Sixpence, the focus has always been coffee, but Stephen has developed the menu over the last few years to now include soups and salads as well as mouthwatering home baked cakes. The menu is heavily influenced by what comes in from the local farm and they make a lot of sourdough bread in house. Staff share many skills from baking bread, scones, and cakes to fermenting onions for adding bursts of flavour to salads. Expect simple but good food made with passion and respect for the local ingredients.
What cake should we order?
The Chocolate Guinness Cake is quite magnificent and is one of the most popular cakes made by Stephen’s partner, Melissa. A work of art!
And washed down with…?
Coffee of course! They typically sell a lot of flat whites, lattes, and americanos but according to Stephen, the dark horse is filter, which is increasing steadily in popularity. Stephen’s particular ‘go to’ is a flat white in the morning and then filter for the rest of the day. The Moon & Sixpence rotate what’s on filter so it can be anything from a washed coffee to a natural, which mixes it up for customers and staff and gives Stephen the chance to teach people a little bit about coffee. If a customer comes in drinking a mocha but leaves drinking black coffee, it’s definitely a win for them!!
Why Carvetii Coffee?
When Stephen was learning his coffee craft, he worked with Gareth & Angharad at Carvetii Coffee so knew them and understood their coffee. Relationships aside, Stephen sees no need to go to Manchester or London for a coffee roaster when he’s got superior quality on his doorstep.
What do people say about The Moon & Sixpence?
Where do we even start? People new to The Moon & Sixpence are generally surprised to get a cup of coffee like they do in such a small town in West Cumbria and locals just feel like part of the family. In a nutshell, the coffee is pretty spectacular with service to match. Who could ask for more?
Any interesting facts about The Moon & Sixpence?
The Moon & Sixpence was previously a clothes shop where Stephen used to get his school uniforms no less! As the building has always been affectionately known as The Moon & Sixpence, he chose to keep the name for posterity.
Stephen’s favourite thing about The Moon & Sixpence is the stained glass above the door that not many people see. It was commissioned especially for them and it depicts the moon in all its phases.
What should people do in Cockermouth?
Cockermouth has some of the prettiest streets in Cumbria and is known for its wealth of independent shops and places to eat and drink, as well as being the birthplace of William Wordsworth. However, another attraction to Cockermouth is its proximity to some of the Lake District’s most beautiful fells and lakes. Stephen recommends visiting Crummock Water, which is close to Buttermere but nowhere near as busy. All of the staff know the area so they’re always happy to pass on loads of local knowledge when it comes to food, drink, and walks.
The name ‘The Moon & Sixpence’ is also a W. Somerset Maugham book based loosely around the artist, Paul Gauguin and about him leaving everything behind to pursue his passion for painting. Although Stephen hasn’t left anything behind, he is pursuing his passion for specialty coffee through The Moon & Sixpence so it’s a fitting name.
What The Moon & Sixpence say about us…
After living and working in Vancouver, Stephen met Gareth from Carvetii Coffee Roasters when he returned to Cumbria and says his ‘coffee knowledge was insane.’ “I then worked for Carvetii for a little while where I learned so much before opening The Moon & Sixpence,” said Stephen. “Having Carvetii Coffee as our coffee roaster, I am always learning and understanding, and have now developed a craft to work with – that’s how I view it.”
As well as providing freshly roasted coffee beans, Carvetii also supplied the Marzocco machine and all the kit when The Moon & Sixpence opened and provide ongoing training and technical support. Like many of his suppliers, Stephen now considers Gareth and Angharad to be friends and sees no reason to change. He adds: “I’ve got an amazing relationship with Gareth, which keeps me building on my craft and constantly pushing my coffee knowledge. I wouldn’t get that from any other roaster.”
What customers say about The Moon & Sixpence…
“I love this place. It’s my secret sanctuary. It has a real North London villages vibe. Great coffee with dairy free alternatives available. Love the changing interior decor with fresh flowers and stained glass windows. Fab table service with a glass of water given as mandatory.”
“Small main street cafe; excellent coffee and cake, staff are great with an effortlessly relaxed, but professional vibe. A good feeling place. Wish it was nearer to me.”
“Highly recommended! The flat white is one of the best I’ve tasted if not the best! Super nice guys running the place with an obvious passion for not only coffee but great customer experience.”
“A home from home and a place of such warmth and friendship.”
“Wonderful coffee and service”
The Moon & Sixpence is currently open every day from 10am-2pm. Outside lockdown, normal hours are: Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm & Sunday 10am-4pm.
The Moon & Sixpence, 29 Main Street, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 9LE. 01900 829378
Find out more at: