It all started with my best friend Dylan …
James Shapland, Founder
I’ve always grown up with labs. Pickwick, Dan, Oscar, Dylan and Brynmor. They’ve always played a very special role in our home. Always added so much warmth and positive energy. We don’t see them as dogs we see them as family members.
My father had an incredible bond with Dylan my fox red lab and after he passed away in December 2021 I had a chance to reflect on what really matters to me. And I realised its warmth and love – that’s what matters to me, and that brings happiness. The labs in my life have provided this. They always know when I’m down. And they always provide so much support.
When I started this, it wasn’t to just build a coffee brand. It actually started as an introspection on what really matters to me. And it grew from there. I thought, what if we could create a space where we could welcome dogs with open arms? They are family members after all. Not a dog café as such, but beautiful, open venues; a focal point of leafy neighbourhoods where family and friends could come together without having to leave their canine companions at home. And then I asked myself what is it that makes Labradors so special. I jotted down all their magnificent virtues and we developed our Magnificent 7 which we try to emulate. Every day we try to be Fun, Kind, Loyal, Likeable, Determined, Dependable and Trustworthy.
And then I thought what if we could make a real difference? Lead with a purpose. So we developed a social mission. To help Guide Dogs for the Blind. Whilst labs have given me tremendous joy I am mindful how they can literally be saviours to people where they need it most. So we raise money and awareness for this fabulous cause.
Now I love coffee. As much as my labs. I love the taste, the history and the passion behind every cup. But what I love most about coffee is the way it can bring people together. A coffee shop environment provides a wonderful gathering place. Our stores are designed to be cosy yet sophisticated. A place to relax and savour one of life’s little pleasures.
I think the key to happiness is to be in the moment. A place to meet face to face in a lovely, warm environment where you feel secure and welcome is a special thing.
So when I think about Coffi Lab I don’t see it as just a coffee shop. I see it as broader than that. Enhancing the local community is very important to me. And being able to share all this with your loyal, four-legged best friend is fabulous.
So ultimately Dylan, my beautiful best friend, was the inspiration behind Coffi Lab. We sadly lost our kind, gentle boy in July 2023. He was one of a kind with huge eyes and an even bigger heart. He left a huge hole in our hearts and lives, but he will live on through Coffi Lab and will continue to be our guiding light to keep turning the ordinary into extraordinary. All day. Every day.