Welcome to our third episode of Meet the Family, our series where we shine a spotlight on some of our wholesale customers.
Blwm opened in March 2022, after a year-long process of getting the lease signed. We caught up with its owners, Sam and Caryl, to check out the space, ask them questions about their creative direction and inspiration and, of course, drink some of their delicious coffee.
When you think of a Cardiff cafe, it’s tempting to imagine a hipster establishment on a bustling street, teeming with people who are just popping in and out to grab a coffee with little more than their order spoken to the people who work there. But Blwm is an oasis of calm in the busy city; tucked away in a quiet street and facing a beautiful, serene Victorian cemetery, that feeling of serenity is continued through the cafe’s Scandinavian vibe and the scent of eucalyptus, which mingles with coffee in the air and greets you as you walk in.
Walking in, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the beautiful custom green La Marzocco sitting atop their concrete countertop. With Decent cups that match the machine, a delicious selection of cakes and a fridge stocked with locally sourced wraps, salads and chia bowls, you know you’re in for a great experience.
The shelves that cover one of Blwm’s walls are stocked full of Coaltown Coffee, Good & Proper Tea, stunning ceramics and yummy candles. To top it all off, Caryl’s handmade dried floral arrangements make the place look and smell incredible.
What inspires you?
Caryl: I would say travelling is definitely a big inspiration. Travelling to different cities, around Europe, and just taking inspiration from places we go. And also just conversations with people, I find that quite inspiring.
Sam: I think as we’ve developed, we’ve had new inspirations too. There’s definitely a community vibe here, that we’re proud to be a part of. I also think there’s a lot of appreciation for us having the Welsh-speaking element.
Caryl: It draws people in, which is really nice. It’s quite inspiring and we’ve built a really nice community of local customers.
In terms of being inspired by cities; would you say there’s any one place you feel inspires you?
Caryl: Yes, I lived over in Dublin before and during lockdown. I had a job over there. It inspired me quite a bit because the independent scene is just great; lots of really cool coffee shops, amazing food, and just a really great vibe!
Our shop is just snippets from everywhere, really—keeping the simple element with little touches to add warmth so it still has that welcoming feel.
What made you want to open Blŵm?
Caryl: I’ve always loved the independent coffee scene and independent shops in general, and then I ended up working for big corporate companies for a long time. I worked in fashion and buying and I loved that side of it, but I always dreamt of having somewhere myself. Whenever I went into little shops and places I always thought, oh I love this, but never thought I’d do it really!
Obviously, there’s a risk with taking on doing it yourself, and it was during lockdown that gave us the push, really.
During a lockdown walk, we walked past here. From the beginning of lockdown I felt there were gaps in the area for more independent places; it’s definitely picked up over the last year, which is great, but we saw the sign in the window a year ago and it went from there. It was a long process getting the lease signed.
Sam: And obviously [Caryl] has always been interested in the coffee scene, but you’ve also got the other elements with flowers and everything.
Caryl: I wanted to incorporate the homeware and lifestyle side of it. My comfort zone is the buying side, being creative, and then coffee was quite new but, obviously, I was interested in it. I wanted to combine both and create something a little bit different for the area.
The name Blwm came from starting the flower side of it, last year.
What made you choose Coaltown?
Caryl: I’ve always loved Coaltown coffee. It’s great coffee, Welsh, and near where we’re from, so it’s got that meaning and connection to home.
Sam: It was actually our favourite coffee, we’re not just saying that!
Caryl: From the initial conversation with Scott, he was so welcoming and just made the process so easy for us. Being someone that isn’t from a coffee background, he took us in and showed us everything.
Sam: Our brand is all about welcoming everyone in, it’s a place for anyone and everyone, so we’re not streamlining into a certain category of customers. And I think that’s what’s really great about Coaltown, as well, is that it has that ethic. It worked.
What do you love the most about what you do?
Caryl: Our customers! They’re the nicest. They’ve got to know us and we’ve got to know them.
Sam: It’s great to see what was once a new face visit us regularly. It makes us feel like Blwm is the environment and experience that we wanted to create.
What do you love the most about Cardiff?
Sam: For me, I like Cardiff because it’s not a massive city. Everything’s accessible. It’s an up-and-coming vibe with lots of green spaces.
Caryl: And a really good independent scene which is continuing to grow, which is great. And I think the people of Cardiff really want to support that. The community vibe is definitely really nice.
Describe your relationship with coffee in three words.
Caryl: We have three words, and they don’t necessarily connect.
Essential – I mean, I find it essential for my day-to-day but also it’s the heart of the business.
Social – it’s a great way to connect with people.
And happy – it just makes me happy!
What’s your go-to coffee order?
Caryl: I’m an oat flat white.
Sam: Same, but I am partial to an iced latte, either oat or whole milk.
What’s your favourite coffee shop you’ve ever visited?
Caryl: I’d probably take it back to Dublin. Around the corner from where I used to live in South Dublin was this tiny little place hidden behind an ivy wall. There was a little gap that you had to go through and then it was this little hut. Just one girl set it up on her own and it just had a really nice vibe, just calm and great. It was called One Kinda Folk. They served 3fe coffee, which is a Dublin roaster, and it was just really nice coffee with great attention to detail.
How do you brew coffee at home?
Caryl: We’ve got a little espresso machine we use. I played around with the v60 during lockdown but, since opening, I just have all my coffee here! We live so close by.
What are you most excited about right now?
Caryl: We’ve got lots to be excited about, we’re only at the start. We just want to see where the business takes us. We’re still experimenting, that’s the beauty of the space that we’ve got. We can try new things. I like being creative, so just expanding on that.
Sam: We like the idea of maybe hosting evenings; yoga classes, wellbeing classes, supper clubs.
Caryl: And growing the brand, really. Brand acknowledgement across Cardiff, continuing to bring in nice customers and building up those customer relationships we’ve already started.
Thanks so much Sam and Caryl for chatting to us, and for the lovely coffee!
If you’re considering joining the Coaltown family, you can put in a wholesale enquiry here.
Such a lovely idea to share stories from your family – we are big fans of coaltown and particularly Blwm – Caryl’s eye for detail and warm welcome together with her crew make it a great place to relax and enjoy the coffee – and a cake or two!
Good luck with your Venture
Pob lwc gyda’ch venter