Its about loving and showing care for the town where you live

John and Kirsty Hammond of The Dairy Shop reveal what they love most about being in business in Sidmouth

Please introduce yourself…

We took over running The Dairy Shop in Church Street in July 2017, a small café and deli specialising in local produce, loose leaf teas and a very tasty Devon cream tea.

What made you decide to set up shop as an independent trader in Sidmouth?

In my previous job, I was working for a major supermarket and I was looking after food safety and legal compliance for more than 113 stores. This involved a great deal of travelling and time away from home. Kirsty, my wife, works as a children’s and youth worker for the Sid Valley Church of England Churches after teaching in Sidmouth Primary School. She grew up in Sidmouth and she has always been keen to help and work in the community. She used to talk of a space where young people could go and somewhere on Christmas Day that people could have company as an alternative to the Christmas Lunch being a more low key event. Fast forward a few years and we took the life-changing decision to take on a small business involving our whole family which we can use to act on our ideas…

After managing to get through our first folk week (by the skin of our teeth) just three weeks after opening, we made the decision to give back to the festival by becoming a sponsor.

Kirsty was very keen to look at becoming more environmentally conscious and one of the first things we did was to sell coffee at a reduced price for people who bring their own cup. We soon started to remove plastic from our shop, now only selling products in glass bottles and we started one of the first milk refill schemes in the country. We are trying to find suppliers that do not use plastic in their packaging. We try to source products that are as local as possible and as good quality as possible (with exception to our authentic Spanish range!). As this is our ethos, we decided to make and sell Sidmouth Gin, where we work very closely with several local business like Ebb Tides.

There are lots of visitors to Sidmouth over the course of the year and they do enjoy taking a small gift or something unique from our town back with them. So, we came up with our own Sidmouth Gin marmalade and a fudge made with our orange and honey gin. We entered ‘Seashore’ gin into the Taste of the West Awards and against over 50 gins we came away with a silver award in 2018 which was a real boost. This has led to several hotels selling our award-winning gin to visitors and the staff are even calling it ‘our’ gin belonging to Sidmouth!

How do you see your business faring over the next five years?

Who knows what will happen over the next few years with local and central government policy. but we hope to keep reinvesting into our business and continuing to learn what our customers want.

What one piece of advice would you give to anybody considering setting up a local independent shop or business?

For any potential new owners, I would always say do your research and then if you think it’s going to be hard work, double it. Something will always break and cost you more money to fix it! Don’t make any big changes at the start; wait until you are sure they will work. I have always said that being a Sidmothian is not about being born in Sidmouth it’s about loving and showing care for the town where you live.

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Lameze Stout and coffee in Sidmouth.

Lameze’s new business hopes to create a buzz about coffee in Sidmouth.

An independent coffee roaster is hoping to cause quite a buzz with her homemade blends.

Coffee lover Lameze Stout is making her a mission to make sure people have the perfect cuppa at home with her business Buzz Coffee Roasters, blended in her back garden in Sidmouth.

Using beans from across the globe, she has purchased a coffee roasting machine called ‘Hester’ to perfect her products through the skills learnt on a coffee roasting course.

The mum-of-two says observation, smell, taste are the three key ingredients to making the perfect coffee roast and even making a mistake can lead to a breakthrough.

Mrs Stout said: “Every single blend is different.

“I love coffee and I am a bit of a geek when it comes to machinery. I went in completely blind. I had not even seen a green coffee bean before. I just knew I wanted coffee to be better. I love the idea of let’s go for a coffee, lets come together and have a coffee together. I think it’s just magic. It is the magic of how it all happens and at the end you get a really good cup of coffee afterwards. If you do make a mistake you might come up with something really good.”

On her packaging she details where the beans have come from with information about the bean and where it was farmed.

Mrs Stout said: “I always get information from the farmer or supplier where it has been farmed, how high above sea level it was grown at and a bit about the farmer we are supporting. Where I get my coffee from it is about the sustainability of that farmer’s well being.”

She hopes to move out of her summer house into a unit in Alexandria Industrial Estate allowing people to stop in to watch the process, try and buy.

Mrs Stout said: “I would like to be able to do the roasting on site and that people would be able to come and see what’s going on. We would have three to four tables and chairs and learn how to make coffee at home. You have all these baristas doing it in restaurant and when you go home you really want to have a good cup of coffee there too. People have been really supportive. I was procrastinating for doing something for myself for a long time and now talking to people I was overwhelmed that people are generally interested. Some people can’t be bothered to make coffee but there are lots of people like the whole Sunday morning feeling to make a proper coffee. It is worth the faff.”

You will soon be able to order from Buzz Coffee Roasters website or from the Dairy Shop in Church Street.

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Couple to open their Sidmouth cafe on Christmas Day

A couple are opening the doors to their Sidmouth café to anyone, young or old, who faces spending Christmas Day alone.

It has been a long-held ambition for John and Kirsty Hammond and one they could realised when they took over the Dairy Shop earlier this year.

After the service at All Saints Church, they will be offering tea, coffee, mince pies made by the congregation and a chance to chat to anyone who wants to go in.

John said: “It was a conversation we had almost two years ago. A friend of ours is a single mum who said going to Spar was the only contact she had on Christmas Day.

“Sidmouth’s community lunch is great, but not everyone wants to sit down for a meal. Some people just want company. This is the perfect place to do it. It’s amazing we’re able to offer that on Christmas Day. We put it on Facebook and it’s been seen 5,500 times – and tweeted to Jeremy Vine’s 650,000 followers.

“A lot of comments online said it’s great for older people who can’t see their family at Christmas but there also are single parents on their own that might want to go, or teenagers that don’t have a good Christmas at home and want to get out. They can all sit and have a coffee.”

During term time, the café also hosts a weekly session for youngsters that has a decent following. The sessions will resume in the new year.

The Dairy Shop, in Church Street, will open on Christmas Day from 12.30pm to 2.30pm.

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Sidmouth tearoom signs up to free water filling scheme

A Sidmouth tearoom has joined a free water bottle filling scheme in a bid to reduce plastic waste in the town.

John and Kirsty Hammond have always offered free water at the Dairy Shop, but now they have joined the growing Refill network.

They are researching other environmentally-friendly initiatives and have backed an online petition calling for Sidmouth to become a plastic-free town.

John said it was important retailers were at the front trying to make changes and not because legislation forced them too.

He added: “You are going to change because it is the right thing to do. There is more that we can do. It is about the plastic and where it ends up and making sure it is recycled responsibly.

“It is soul-destroying when you go onto the beach and see litter that’s been left there.”

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