Cathedral Kitchen, Wakefield

Cathedral Kitchen, Wakefield

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Back in the spring we installed some new equipment at the Cathedral Kitchen, Wakefield. We recently caught up with Ea Nielson, catering manager at Wakefield Cathedral, whose role includes oversight of the Cathedral Kitchen. Not a religious person herself, Ea had some interesting insights on what it’s like to run a café within a faith-based building – the good and the bad. 

How long have you been running, and what inspired the Cathedral Kitchen?

The café has been in existence for some time but I only came earlier this year. It started simply as a place for coffee and cake after a cathedral service, but it has now expanded to a daily operation.

Your machine – the Contempo 2group automatic – what influenced your choice of machine?

We wanted to improve the quality of the coffee on offer. Previously it was a lot of filter coffee. I am familiar with espresso machines and I think they deliver the best quality cup of coffee.

What Indigo coffee blend do you use in the cafe?

Archie’s Classic Colombian filter and Signature Blend espresso.

How are coffee sales - what is the most popular drink and how many coffees do you sell each day?

We are busier than expected with the espresso machine. A lot of our customers are more elderly, but they are enjoying experimenting with the coffee! The most popular drinks are lattes and cappuccinos…flat whites less so.

Do you have any of the Indigo Valley customised products – coffee or cups?

Our new cups have Indigo Valley on the inside and our logo on the outside – they’re great.

What is the vision for the café?

I would like to widen the appeal of the café so that it isn’t just for the congregation, but the wider community. A lot of people seem to be put off because it is attached to the congregation. We recently set up a stall offering free tea, coffee and porridge outside the cathedral and people were so suspicious! They need to know that we don’t have an agenda other than providing a good café that’s value for money for everyone.

I’d also like to get more morning trade – at the moment a lot of it is lunches.

How is it run (volunteers/ paid)?

We have 4 paid staff and 4 volunteers. The volunteers cover 4 shifts between them; that’s one bonus of being attached to the cathedral, we get some volunteers.

How do you link into the wider ministry of Wakefield Cathedral

We are looking to do more events – and not just religious ones. I’d like to link with other departments within the cathedral, such as their educational department. We want to have a wider agenda.

Do you link in with or run other events (e.g. toddler groups etc)

Not currently. We did run an afternoon tea on Saturdays, which will resume in the autumn

Who are your best/ most frequent customers?

We get a lot of elderly and members of the congregation, but I’d really like to widen the appeal.

Anything else you'd really like to share about Cathedral Kitchen?

We are a small cathedral trying to reach into the local community.

Although being inside a Christian building can automatically attach a certain stigma to the café, I do really admire and perhaps envy people who come to the services and to pray in the cathedral…I wish I could be more like that and believe what they do because it’s an amazing community …I think visitors feel the same – they find it fascinating and are made to feel so welcome. 

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