‘What do you put in the coffee?’: How Yared Markos ships beans from Ethiopia to roast fresh daily in Dalston
- Credit: Emma Bartholomew
Yared Markos tells Emma Bartholomew how he set up a stall selling coffee shipped over from his native Ethiopia, and about his new Bradbury Street cafe
When Yared Markos moved to the UK nearly two decades ago he was surprised there were no cafés dedicated to his own homeland and "the birthplace of coffee".
Leaving Addis Ababa for "political reasons", the 42-year-old - who is better known as Markos - had been working as a cleaner and on building sites. But he wanted to find a better way to support his family.
He told the Gazette: "I like walking around and seeing new things, and I saw Starbucks and I started asking myself: 'Why does coffee come from Ethiopia and there are no Ethiopian coffee shops?' There are cappuccinos and lattes from Europe, but why we aren't creating our thing?
"We introduced coffee to the world and so why not? It was my survival idea. I kept looking every day and dreaming."
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He decided to import coffee grown on his family's plantations in Ethiopia.
He began bringing it over in a suitcase but soon teamed up with three other businesses to assemble enough stock to fill a shipping container.
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He had a stall in Camden Market but sadly it burned down in 2008. Undeterred, he persuaded Hackney Co-operative Developments to lease him one of its pods in Gillette Square, Dalston - where he remains to this day.
But developers are soon set to revamp the square and when the toy shop Fee Fee La Fou in Bradbury Street, which is sited directly behind his stall closed down, he managed to take on that lease too - knocking through the wall to join them both up.
He was touched that 60 people supported his application and some customers donated money to help him.
"They knew I was worried," he said. "Sometimes you feel people around you. They give you energy and it boosts you to work hard. It's magic."
He serves coffee the "typical Ethiopian way".
He roasts the green coffee beans every single day in the shop and serves it fresh.
"Working people love it," said Markos, who drinks six cups a day.
"I had a phone call this week and someone said: 'I can't stop talking. What do you put in the coffee?' It's single origin coffee and it's really red soil where the coffee comes form and I believe it's high caffeine.
"Especially when it's fresh it's high caffeine, and that's seasonally dependent as well."