As you may know, H.R. Higgins was established in 1942 by Harold Rees Higgins, to supply freshly roasted coffee to individuals and businesses affected by the war. It was a risky venture, with only a limited allocation of beans dedicated to him each week. If he got one roast wrong, there would be no more. In 1944, Harold opened the business in a small shop on South Molton Street, before moving to their current Duke Street premises in the heart of Mayfair.
The concept of the video started several months ago when David and Tony Higgins were reminiscing over highlights from the past 75 years. They realised that not only were they celebrating the 75th anniversary of the shop, but their 40th anniversary of holding the Royal Warrant and supplying coffee to the Royal Household.
When Harold passed away, his passion for helping people find their perfect flavour did not leave the business. David and Tony wanted to continue his good work and create something that would pay tribute to all he had done both for the business, and the many customers we have had the pleasure of serving over those years. Hence, the video was born.
I expect the camera crew were anticipating an old shop creaking with varnished wood with an ancient roaster tucked away in the corner. In contrast, they looked quite delighted at the large, curved window, dark grey interior, antique weighing scales and hand-painted caddies filled with fresh teas and coffees that fill the air with the glorious smell we have become so accustomed to. At the bottom of a narrow, winding staircase, a secret basement café can be found, with hand-painted floor tiles and pictures of Harold on various trips to origin lining the walls. This is where most of the filming took place.
Whilst the marvellous folk from Sharp Cookies Video Production were setting up, David and Tony busied themselves with the usual jobs. A few disappointed passers-by popped their heads in when they saw the lights on to find out that we were closed – although David did manage to sneak out a few takeaway coffees in between takes!
With the cameras rolling, David and Tony talked for hours, reminiscing on both individual and shared journeys in the wonderful world of tea and coffee, and swapped stories from Harold’s own adventures. One particular highlight was the story from when Harold accidentally set fire to the roaster on South Molton Street. To combat near disaster, Tony was sent upstairs to teeter above Oxford Street with a bucket full of water to throw down the chimney!
David and Tony also brought with them their collection of Harold’s books which were written during his travels and adventures. The film crew and team spent hours rifling through these handwritten documents finding hidden gems that were long since forgotten. When it was a wrap, everyone bundled upstairs, for a coffee of course.
We couldn’t be happier with the final cut. The team has captured the essence of our business beautifully and it’s a pleasure to have taken time out to reminisce on the past 75 truly incredible years.