Caffeine, beans and snacking dreams – meet Brew & Bite
We caught up with Laura and Craig Robinson, the dynamic duo behind Heaton’s coolest coffee shop
In Partnership with Brew & Bite
We’ve all been there. You’re on your break at work, you’ve finally arranged that daytime catch up with the girls or you’ve finally escaped for some alone time with your book. You settle down with a cuppa and… that’s it. Anti-climax. Or, worse still, you’ve found yourself a tasty snack but don’t have the perfect brew to dip it into. It’s a disaster. Almost of epic proportions. Because we all know this to be true: for the ultimate coffee break, you need a brew and a bite.
And that unequivocal truth is exactly what husband-and-wife duo Craig and Laura Robinson have tapped into with the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Brew & Bite.
Having worked in the industry since the age of 15, both in the UK and across the pond, Craig has a huge passion for coffee. Together with Laura, he has finally realised his lifelong dream of running his own coffee shop… and then some. Because Brew & Bite isn’t just a coffee shop. It’s a multi-roasting treasure chest of caffeine, beans and snacking dreams. (Trust us, we know our snacks).
Oh yes, we almost forgot to mention – Laura and Craig are also the masterminds behind one of Team HLN’s favourite ever culinary creations: Dot Bagels. Handily enough, the branch business now has its own shop just up the road from Brew & Bite too, so you satisfy every craving you ever hope to have in one swoop. Which is just the way we like it.
We caught up with Laura and Craig to find out how launching two ridiculously successful ventures just before a global pandemic wasn’t biting off more than they could chew, and what could be brewing for the businesses in the future…
For anyone who hasn’t yet been introduced to Brew & Bite, what is the business all about?
Laura: We are a speciality coffee shop with a kitchen on Chillingham Road in Heaton. We pride ourselves on baking the perfect bites to accompany your coffee, which is made fresh every morning by our talented team.
Craig, can you tell us a little about your journey to opening Brew & Bite?
Craig: I started out in hospitality as a chef in a hotel kitchen, securing a job after work experience in my home town of Darlington. After moving to Newcastle for university, I worked my way up in the hotel industry.
I’ve always had a passion for coffee and had a turning point in my career when I began working for Pret A Manger. I became one of their youngest General Managers and was soon looking after all three (at the time) shops in Newcastle. Fast-forward a few years and I was given the opportunity to work for Pret USA. I became the District Manager for all stores in Boston, Massachusetts, which was a fantastic experience.
From there, I moved to London to join Gail’s Bakery and looked after 36 shops, before finally following my passion and opening up my own coffee shop: Brew & Bite.
Let’s start with the ‘Brew’ then – what do you look for in your coffee suppliers?
Craig: Ultimately, it’s all down to consistency and, for us specifically, variety – as we are one of the only coffee shops in Newcastle who mix up and change their espresso weekly. We switch up our flavours to match the weather, occasion or mood and our customers really enjoy this.
Hasbean offer a wide variety, are consistent and their quality is second to none.
What made you want to venture into the ‘Bite’ side of things?
Laura: Like sourcing our coffee, we wanted to make sure we put as much time and effort into selecting the perfect bites to offer alongside it. We’re very fortunate to have a kitchen on site and the ability to create freshly-baked products every day.
What comes into play when you’re devising your menus?
Laura: Having our in-house baker means we can switch it up and change our bites easily to suit seasonality or adapt to change. We’re very much led by our customers too! We try to have a variety of bites to suit our customers throughout the day – from early morning goods they can grab on their way to work and mid-morning pick-me-ups through to lunchtime offerings and plenty of afternoon treats. And we definitely tend to go down the more indulgent route! If you haven’t tried a cruffin or cinnamon bun yet, you need to get on it!
You’ve teamed up with other local independents, such as PureKnead in Whitley Bay. Why are forging these connections important to you?
Craig: We are a small independent business who loves working with and supporting other local businesses too! Anything we can’t make personally, we try and source as locally as possible. Working with suppliers such as PureKnead means that we can use local, freshly baked bread for our sandwiches, as well as being able to offer our customers this bread to buy for their own sandwiches. When customers buy from us, they can often be supporting a whole range of local Independents in just one trip!
What can people expect when they visit Brew & Bite?
Craig: We’re very much part of the local community and I think that’s because we really do take the time to get to know our customers. So people can expect to come in to a friendly face and enjoy our different seating areas – whether they’re using them to work, relax with a book or enjoy the perfect setting to socialise with friends and family.
You’re also the masterminds behind Dot Bagels. Have you got any more branch businesses you’re planning to grow from the Brew & Bite tree?!
Laura: Knowing Craig, yes! He’s always coming up with new ideas! But for now, we’re very happy working on (and perfecting) both Brew & Bite and Dot!
You’re taking a break at work – what brew and bite have you sat down with?
Craig: My go-to is always a flat white and a cruffin!
Laura: You can’t beat a Brew & a Nata.
What does the future look like for Brew & Bite?
Laura: We’re already planning an exciting new menu for our seating area opening up in May, along with some renovations to make our kitchen space even bigger! We’re also really excited to be joining another local community – which we will be telling you about very soon!
We can’t wait to find out more!
If (like us) you want to be the first to know about Brew & Bite’s newest developments – or if you just want to see how many pictures of cruffins you can scroll past before finally indulging – visit Brew & Bite’s website, Facebook page or Instagram
And whenever you’re ready for your next caffeine and/or bagel fix, pop along and say hello:
Brew & Bite:
214 Chillingham Road, Heaton, Newcastle NE6 5LJ
250 Chillingham Road, Heaton, Newcastle NE6 5LQ
19 Acorn Road, Jesmond, Newcastle NE2 2DJ
Fenwick, 39 Northumberland Street, Newcastle NE1 7A