Down a country lane in East Devon you’ll come across Halberton, a small village known for its farm shop and ‘Pick Your Own’ fruit in the summer. Once known as Halberton Court Farm Shop Tea Rooms, Ivan took over almost a year ago and has made this laid back lifestyle coffee shop his own. Its walls adorned with gig posters, bikes and portrait photography – everything tells a story, a story of Ivan and his life so far. Believe us, this guy should write a book.
A popular place for those picking up their week’s fruit and veg, families exploring the Tiverton Canal and cyclists on the Network 3 cycle path, Ivan’s is a great place to cosy up when the rain is pouring, or bask in the sunshine with an ice cream when the sun’s got its hat on.
With a focus on simple, homecooked, local food, Ivan works with local suppliers such as Chunk of Devon, Fenton Farm Eggs, Exploding Bakery and of course, Roastworks. With The Spice Girls playing in the background, we sat down with Ivan for a flat white and some homemade frittata (we rate it) to hear more about his journey into coffee and his life so far.
Take five, grab a coffee and have a read, Ivan’s story is an interesting one…
Where did you first have the idea of owning a coffee shop?
I spent the early 1990s doing a season in The Alps touring in a covers band; we joked that it could be called ‘Super U’ like the French supermarket and the name kind of stuck. It was in The Alps in the summer that I got into cycling. On a long ride we’d stop off at dirty old cafes on the roadside, men in woollen cycling kits would be sat outside drinking espressos and smoking. It couldn’t be further away from the techy world of cycling now, but it was the real scene – and a nice place to be. I always thought I’d like to – if not run something like that – then hang out more at places like that.
What do you love about having your own coffee shop?
It is hard work running a cafe but I still do love the interaction, the banter, the social side of things. A lot of people do get satisfaction from what we do. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to cater for everyone, but we’re trying to make it fun and homely in a way that people enjoy, promoting healthy and local. We’re not just a cafe – we have a bit of a lifestyle thing going on – inspired by other local cycling stops like Route 2 in Topsham and Cafe 360 in Bovey Tracey.
What did you do before coffee?
I had ten years of rock and roll, on tour with the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Editors, Maccabees, Natasha Bedingfield and Mumford & Sons. I used to help with backline tech and play bass and drums. One of the Mumford guys was a good photographer, so we’d always visit a cafe instead of a pub, which gave me inspiration for my place today. I, unfortunately, had an accident and broke my back and neck in an accident on tour. Cycling got me back on track – off the beer and on to the coffee.
What other coffee escapades have you had before Ivan’s?
After putting the touring on pause, I couldn’t fully wave goodbye to that part of my life. I had played drums headlining the main stage so I didn’t want to pay to be a punter to see music. I turned my old family surf bus into a coffee wagon. It’s hard to make money that way so I was always seeking bricks and mortar to run a cafe…
My parents are from Devon and the food scene and cycling down in the South West brought us back down to this part of the world. My next venture after the camper was a little cafe in The Bike Shop in Tiverton but not many people passed through there. We used to take our daughter to the Halberton Court Farm Shop when she was a baby, so we knew of its potential. Now the cafe walls are covered in conversation starters: portraits of Run DMC, Jarvis, The Spice Girls, bikes and bike posters.
What’s your favourite brew method?
Chemex, if I’ve got the time to do that. I much prefer the lighter, more floral style. When you’re brewing a Chemex things just slow down…