COFFEE CULTURE SPECIAL: ‘We’ve got phenomenal café culture’

Ian Steel from J Atkinson and Co.
Ian Steel from J Atkinson and Co.

Sitting in the grand hall that once was the Priory you can’t help feel that this is more than just a café.

Atkinsons has won a few awards in it’s time, to mention a few, best cappuccino, best espresso and best flat white in the UK.

From TV producer to coffee guru, Ian Steel says everything has expanded very quickly for the family over a ten year period.

Mr Steel said: “We didn’t have a crystal ball or anything, we basically wanted a change for a different career path and thought what was the best moment of our day?

“It was our coffee moment and it all flowed from there.”

All staff are trained to a competition level with son Caspar coming 8th in the UK Barista Championships.

However the family try not to discuss coffee when they are not at work, much to the struggle of Ian.

Mr Steel said: “I’m passionate to a crazy extent, we sometimes try and get together as a family and to try not mention the ‘C’ word and it’s impossible.

“It’s sometimes a really hard job being face to face with the public, you never know what’s going to come through the door, it’s a family business so you have an emotional tie to it.”

Atkinsons sells 30 different coffees from all over the world and has at least 600 people coming to visit every weekend.

Mr Steel said: “We are not hell bent on sales, we are not in it for the short term, we are building a culture here.

“For a small market town we’ve got a phenomenal café culture, its about the whole cultural thing in Lancaster, they go hand in and, you can’t invent it.

“I’m supported by a wonderful family. They’re the ones that give me strength, we just want to do the best we can and we stick to our guns.”