My father and I have worked together since as long as I can remember. Although truthfully, the early days were hardly to be described as work at all.
My earliest memories are from when I was very small indeed. Being taken to work, and then sitting on a wooden stool, watching everything going on in the shop, smelling the coffee roasting downstairs, or being ground at the counter, the sound of the roaster humming, the grinders protesting, and the sharp chonk as beans were scooped and weighed in the brass scales- these are the things that made an impression and can still be heard today albeit in different places.
Whether my father hoped I would be so impressed that a career in coffee would follow, he never let on, or even pushed me in that direction. But as he had already found when starting with my grandfather, once the coffee gets into your soul there it stays.
For me, it wasn’t just about coffee, for the shop was a hub for all sorts of interesting characters both within the business, those somehow attached to it, and those who were our customers. My dad was at the centre of this, and it became quickly clear to me how people liked and respected him. Never someone to knowingly show off, blow his own trumpet, he had and still has a gentleness about him. So, I found it very easy to fall under the spell of H R Higgins (Coffee-man) Ltd, and happily did any job that I was given. I found nothing boring at all, well maybe filing the standing orders wasn’t at the top of the list, but even while doing that I could watch the postal orders being weighed and wrapped and listen to the conversations going on at the counter.
At 16 years of age, during the long school summer holidays, I was given a green overall to wear for the first time, and actually got paid (in cash). I did a variety of jobs but wasn’t let loose on the counter until two years later when straight from school, like my father before me, I began full-time.