We didn't start Caffe Banba with any high and mighty principles, or a serious Mission Statement. We simply wanted to make really good coffee and make a living by selling it to the people who come to visit the beautiful place we live in, Malin Head. Things have grown a little bit since then, but we are still driven by a desire to provide the best quality food and drink, at an affordable price, whilst making our business a happy part of our family life, not just a job.
We know that in running Caffe Banba, the most vital thing we do is to maintain the highest standards of quality and food safety, and we think it shines through in the excellence of our delicious produce. As a small business we can keep a very tight hold on standards. By using trusted local suppliers, building a commercial grade kitchen, liasing with the EHO, employing strict controls on ingredients, and making sure everyone who works with us is trained to maintain our high standards, we ensure our products are as safe to eat as they are delicious. All of this means we keep one of our most important assets, our reputation.
Values - Eco-Ethics and Greenwashing
We feel very uneasy making claims about being green or using ethically traded products, not because we don't believe in those values, but because we think that this should be automatic, and all companies should try their best. In too many cases, "eco" and "ethical" become marketing phrases (Greenwashing as it known), just used to sell more products at higher prices. We find that cynical and in bad taste, and we do not think we should feel smug because we recycle our cups and use Fair Trade coffee etc - you should expect that of every company you deal with. We do our best to ensure our products do no harm to people and the environment, and will keep trying harder to improve.
Banba's Crown at Malin Head, Irelands most Northerly Point, is an astonishing place. It is wild, unspoilt, spectacular, ferocious, and quite simply breathtakingly, heart achingly beautiful.
On 18th May 2008, we drove our tiny new Italian three wheel van the 1km from our house up to the most northerly tip of Ireland, Banba's Crown. Fitted out in shiny stainless steel and loaded down with a sparkling espresso coffee machine, it chugged up to the top of the hill at around 10kph, where we sold our first Cappuccino to a very grateful windswept visitor. The Piaggio is small, silent and fits into Banbas Crown without
Since then, we have seen tens of thousands of visitors come to Banba's Crown, and all are astounded by the raw magnificence of the place. No one expects to find it so extraordinarily beautiful. No one expects it to be so un-commercial and unspoilt. And no one expects to find a three wheel coffee shop serving some of the best coffee, tea, Hot Chocolate and most delicious banana bread in Ireland.
We had many requests for food to go with our coffee, but we didn't want to serve the stuff full of preservatives and additives pushed by most suppliers. To ensure everything was as fresh and wholesome as possible, we decided to bake our own cakes at home. Our fresh warm Banana Bread and moist iced carrot cake have become legendary, and in May 2009 we built our Ballyhillion Bakery in the shadow of Banba's Crown to make sure we could supply our cakes, breads, sandwiches and other produce as fresh as possible, with the highest standards of quality and hygiene.
In July 2009, we took delivery of our second vehicle. This bigger Mobile Cafe was built to our specifications by Jiffy Trucks in Bradford England, and allows us to take our fantastic coffees, teas and hot chocolate, plus hot and cold food to more places, including markets, festivals, beaches, weddings and work places.
The two trucks and the bakery put us in a better position to satisfy the growing demand for our freshly baked cakes and breads, and in November 2009, we started to sell them through local shops. Along with our daughters (Caragh and Aine), and our babies (twins Aoibhinn and Roan) we have plenty to keep us busy. We are not sure where we go next, but it looks like it will be fun.