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Kongoni (was "The Upstairs Coffee Shop")

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Derek
Stretton on Dunsmore
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16 of 27  Tue 8th Apr 2014 3:19pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2014  Total posts:1

Whilst watching Sandi Toksvig’s documentary on the TV about the rise of coffee houses, it struck me how much ahead of its time was the Kongoni in Coventry. I Googled it and found this forum. I think that I can add a few facts here as I worked at the Kongoni. Duncan and Joyce Metcalfe set up the Kongoni Coffee Company in Coventry having been forced to leave Kenya due to the Mau Mau uprising of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Duncan Metcalfe had been involved in the coffee trade all of his working life. I’m not sure of the exact date they set it up but I believe it to be just after 1960. Kongoni is the Swahili name for the Coke’s Hartebeest which is symbolic of Kenya. The quality of the coffee was superb. I went to work for them on Saturday’s starting in 1962. I found the coffee and tea trade fascinating and in 1967 I went to work there full time. I was officially “shop manager” but there was very little delegation from the Metcalfe’s. I did however learn a lot. I spent some time learning coffee tasting at the coffee importers Quick Reek and Smith who were then based in Fenchurch Street in London. I was also taught how to roast the coffee and had a very comprehensive training in both tea and coffee. However, it didn’t work out as well as I hoped as, apart from the genuine wish to educate me in the trade, I was treated very much as a colonial servant. One day in 1969 this was too much and I left abruptly and found myself working as computer operator and worked in IT from then until my retirement a couple of years ago. I can still identify the origin of most coffee though. I’d like to just mention a couple of points from previous posts. The large machine at the back of the shop behind the sacks of coffee was a roaster, not a grinder. The grinding was all done at the counter at the time of sale. The fur shop opposite was called Canadian Furs and was owned by Sefton Marks.
Kongoni (was "The Upstairs Coffee Shop")
TonyS
Coventry
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17 of 27  Tue 8th Apr 2014 4:40pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2011  Total posts:1542

Wow, thanks for that Derek, and welcome to our forum!
Kongoni (was "The Upstairs Coffee Shop")
happyhippie
Devon
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18 of 27  Thu 10th Apr 2014 9:12am  
Member: Joined Nov 2012  Total posts:30

I worked in Marie Holliday's in the 60s and we used the Kongoni all the time, but, working next to it all day when they were roasting the coffee got a bit much at times. The customers use to say 'Doesn't it smell wonderful in here' but it did get a bit over the top when you had it all day, but their coffee was the best I had ever tasted. My favourite was Blue Mountain. They were really ahead of their time, the youngsters of today think Starbucks and Costa are a hip new places, not a patch on the Kongoni. Thank you so much for all the info and for bringing back great memories.
Kongoni (was "The Upstairs Coffee Shop")
Prof
Gloucester
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19 of 27  Fri 25th Jul 2014 10:08pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:259

I recall the roasting coffee beans in Allwoods, Atkins and Turton, grocers in Fleet Street, bottom of Smithford Street which also had that inviting aroma.
Kongoni (was "The Upstairs Coffee Shop")
Davey
Coventry
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20 of 27  Mon 28th Jul 2014 11:15am  
Member: Joined Jan 2011  Total posts:51

When I was a youth I had a coffee at the Kongoni, and being an inquisitive type I asked where the beans came from. The Lady replied they used a mixture of "Kenya and Costa Rica", so if you want to bring back that authentic Kongoni Aroma, that a good place to start.
DavidT

Kongoni (was "The Upstairs Coffee Shop")
Old Lincolnian
Coventry
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21 of 27  Mon 4th Aug 2014 4:32pm  
Off-topic / chat  

Bags
Saltash
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22 of 27  Sun 3rd May 2015 9:29am  
Member: Joined Jul 2013  Total posts:102

I will always remember the smell of roasting coffee walking through the arcade in the late 60s and early 70s from the Barracks car park to the Precinct. Wonderful smell. Whenever I smell freshly ground coffee I am reminded of those days.
Kongoni (was "The Upstairs Coffee Shop")
Tricia
Bedworth
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23 of 27  Sun 3rd May 2015 11:35am  
Off-topic / chat  

juliejayne
Dordrecht
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24 of 27  Sun 9th Aug 2015 10:34am  
Member: Joined Aug 2015  Total posts:1

I was a regular at the Kongoni in 1975-1977 when I worked at the City Council Rent office. It was the start of my lifelong love of "good coffee". I am not sure who was the roaster at that time, he was an older guy, but then I was 17 so everyone was older. But I remember that when I talked to him about the flavour of my coffee not being quite perfect, he introduced me to Old Brown Java. Still in my book, one of the finest Coffees in the world. Oh and the sandwiches upstairs were ace too. And I still have the carved wooden otter that I bought from the art display upstairs. Does anyone know when it closer? Such a shame.
Kongoni (was "The Upstairs Coffee Shop")
2989andyd
Hampton Wick, Middx
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25 of 27  Sat 26th Mar 2016 3:07pm  
Member: Joined Oct 2015  Total posts:2

My friends and I frequented the Kongoni Coffee Shop regularly from 1982 to 1984 when we were sixth-formers (we were friendly with Heidi and Joanne who used to work there, I wonder whatever happened to them). Kenya Peaberry was the regular tipple for us, and we felt very sophisticated. These were the days of Busters nightclub, the Dog & Trumpet's 80s heyday and Revolver Records in the Lower Precinct. Very happy days.
Kongoni (was "The Upstairs Coffee Shop")
Mel
Coventry
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26 of 27  Fri 3rd Mar 2017 4:26pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2017  Total posts:2

I worked there around this time too and I'm still in touch with Heidi :)
Mel

Kongoni (was "The Upstairs Coffee Shop")
Mel
Coventry
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27 of 27  Fri 3rd Mar 2017 4:29pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2017  Total posts:2

I worked there later around the 80s - Mr and Mrs Metcalf still owned and ran it. I have many wonderful memories of my time there (my mother was manageress) and friends I made there have remained friends after all these years :) They later sold to the Carwadines coffee house chain
Mel

Kongoni (was "The Upstairs Coffee Shop")

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