We talk to Hannah Huntly and Beth Cook, sisters and owners of Applaud Coffee, about their business in The Saints area of Ipswich.

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How long have you been situated here in The Saints, and what made you open up shop here?

It’s been nearly two and a half years now. When we were looking for a shop, we always knew we wanted to be in Ipswich because it’s where we were brought up and have lived most of our lives.

We were walking around the town and saw this street, and we thought that it had lots of character because of the abundance of independent shops. We felt that there was a need for a nice coffee shop in this area: somewhere to stop for lunch where you can get homemade cakes and good coffee.

There is a very friendly community feel here, which we thought that we would fit in well with, and of course in the last year there have been half a dozen new shops open on the street which has really improved the area. It’s now more of a shopping destination, which is great from a business perspective.

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Can you sum up what makes you different from other businesses of your kind?

We keep our menu fairly simple and we make homemade foods and snacks like scones and sausage rolls. We offer six or seven homemade cakes each day – so were always baking in the kitchen!

Our coffee is locally roasted in Bury St Edmunds, and we did lots of tasting before we opened up; there was so much researching and in the end it was a toss up between a company in London and one in Suffolk, and we decided to go local in order to maintain a closer relationship with the roaster. We’re very particular about our coffee and who makes it, as we’ve both had training in the industry and know what to look for when it comes to a good, consistent brew.

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What your favourite product that you’re offering in the café at the moment?

The raspberry lemon polenta cake is always a favourite; it’s really fruity and fresh – plus it’s gluten-free.

Can you tell us an unusual fact about the building you’re in?

This was a residential house before, and we’ve had the previous owners pop in and see how the property has changed! I think that, because of this, the café has a homely feel and that’s what makes it unique.

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What about the history of the area?

Lots of our older customers come in and tell us stories of what the street used to be like back in the day. We think there was a tramline just outside, and of course there are cellars beneath the shops where people used to work.

If someone had never visited the area before, how would you describe it to them?

The area has a great selection of independent shops whose owners are really passionate and friendly. We work very closely together so the area has a very good community feel; we meet up regularly and organise events together.

There’s a lot that we offer down here: hairdressers, food and drink, clothes shops, gift boutiques – it’s a really good mix.

Visit Applaud Coffee at 19 St Peter’s Street, Ipswich, IP1 1XF