Coffee makers win national prize

The Steel family from The Hall, from left, Caspar, Maitland, Ian and Sue who won a national award for the Best Flat White in the Beverage Standards Awards.
The Steel family from The Hall, from left, Caspar, Maitland, Ian and Sue who won a national award for the Best Flat White in the Beverage Standards Awards.

Lancaster can boast the best “flat white” in the country thanks to a new dynasty of coffee blenders in the city.

The Hall, in China Street, has scooped two awards in the annual Beverage Standards Association (BSA) Awards – the Michelin stars of the coffee industry.

The Hall, which opened last year, won the Best Drinks Award for the Best Flat White, as well as achieving the Five Cup Accreditation.

This means it has reached the highest level in the quality of and presentation of drinks, customer service, ambience, cleanliness, menu range, training and sustainability procedures.

Only ten outlets in the country can lay claim to this award. Ian Steel, owner of The Hall, J Atkinson & Co next door and the Music Room, in Sun Square, with his wife Sue, said: “To win any award is a huge honour, but to be given top honours for both the product and the venue really vindicates our decision to experiment with the format.

“When the building next door to the shop became available, we seized the opportunity to develop our dream of a multi-tasking space based around the central theme of coffee.

“Our renovation of a dreary, derelict, empty building into a vibrant public space is probably the most gratifying thing of all.”

In 2011, the Music Room also won top BSA awards - Best Filter Coffee and 5 Cup Accreditation.

Ranald Paterson, chairman of the judges of the Beverage Standards Awards said: “The Hall has history behind its success.

“In 1837 Thomas and Jane Atkinson established a tea warehouse in Lancaster.

“Until 2005 successive children of the founding family grew and ran J Atkinson & Co, as tea blenders and coffee brewers.

“With no previous experience in the beverage industry, Ian and Sue Steel bought J Atkinson & Co in 2005 and with their children Caspar and Maitland have created a new dynasty of tea and coffee blenders and roasters in Lancaster.”

Ian said the winning flat white is made in a 7oz Ancap cup with a double shot of Thalia Blend with a latte art on the milk.

The espresso is 80 per cent Guatemalan Finca La Bolsa and 20 per cent Ethiopian Dumerso Woreda. A rebuilt vintage 1959 Faema President Lever machine is used to make the drink.