Focused on quality ingredients and sustainability, partners Ruth and Colin Redman took over Birdhouse Cafe in Banchory in early 2020.
“We knew the previous owners (Cam and Amy Findlay) as we loved going to the Birdhouse and have lots of family memories there,” said Colin.
“Ruth mentioned one day that we were looking for a base for our catering operation and a few days later they approached us to see if we would be interested in buying the cafe from them so they could explore other career paths.”
Prior to setting up their catering and events company a few years ago, Ruth worked at Buchanan’s Bistro in Banchory and Colin worked as a chef offshore.
The popular Aberdeenshire café, which is located on High Street in Banchory, is currently focusing on offering a wide range of speciality coffees.
Colin said: “We love working with small roasteries who share our beliefs in sourcing the best, most sustainable products while paying a fair price to the farmers and looking after the whole supply chain.
“This is something that is very important to us.”
So in addition to offering their coffees for sitting in – when restrictions allow – and take away, Birdhouse Cafe also sells a selection of British cafes in its retail section.
Birdhouse Cafe currently offers a range of coffees, including lattes, flat white and cappuccinos.
Colin said: “Our biggest seller in the cafe is a latte – they are great if you are looking for a large drink to enjoy on a cold day.
“We try to have a complex medium-dark roast so there is plenty of flavour in the drink.”
When asked to choose their go-to drinks, Ruth said she really likes a flat white and Colin would opt for a cappuccino.
Colin said: “Ruth really likes a flat white made with a lighter roasted coffee.
“The short drink (6oz) allows the coffee’s flavour to shine.
“I prefer a cappuccino – it’s the perfect drink with a complex coffee flavour.
“A nice foam in an 8oz serving is the perfect way to enjoy it and I like both light and dark roasts for my cappuccino.”
Not only does the couple work with UK-based coffee roasters, but they are also passionate about supporting food and drink companies operating in the north-east.
Colin said: “We try to work with as many companies as we can in the local area and we use suppliers who share our commitment to sustainability.
“We use Katy’s Eggs. Happy Planet Disposables, King Foods, Norfood at Dunns, Turriff’s Montrose and JG Ross.”
The café’s current food take away menu focuses on grilled sandwiches.
Colin said: “We make our own sourdough bread, so we are the only place you can get one of our grilled sandwiches.
“Our sourdough is at the core of our menu – it has proved very popular as a retail product and it’s gained quite a loyal following.
“We spend a good deal of time trialling each of our offerings and have just added a grilled Kimchi and cheese sandwich to our menu.
“We make our own house sausage rolls daily as well.”
Birdhouse Café’s afternoon tea/ picnic boxes are also popular with the café’s customers.
“They are designed to follow the seasons,” said Colin.
“We make use of the products we can get at a particular time of year.
“This is a challenge as you can only get locally grown soft fruits for a short time in Scotland, but in the winter months we make use of different cooking techniques to bring our customers something unique to us that we think they will love.”
Colin said they were grateful for the support shown by their loyal customers.
He said: “We have an amazing group of customers and we cannot thank the community enough for the positivity and support they have shown us over the last year.
“It’s great to see the same faces coming back time and time again and developing relationships with each person and seeing families change over time.”
While they are currently a small team of three, Ruth and Colin will be looking to take on new staff when lockdown restrictions are eased and they are allowed to welcome customers back into the cafe.
Hoping to run a successful café for years to come, Ruth and Colin are also going to convert the upstairs of the building into a small B&B.
We put Birdhouse Cafe owners Ruth and Colin through our round of quick-fire questions. See how they got on below:
What’s your customer icebreaker?
It’s usually ‘Hi’ or ‘What can I help you with?’ but it changes all the time.
It’s the end of your shift – what do you pour yourself?
We like a G&T on occasion.
If you were a drink, what would you be?
Ruth would be tea and I would be IrnBru – not sure why though!
Most unusual drink request?
Not sure, but we do sell a pretty out there matcha and Celtic kombu tea.
What would the theme song to your average shift be?
If our shift was a song it would be Chop Suey! by System Of A Down.
Best food and drink pairing?
Steak and Châteauneuf-du-Pape for Colin and a good Malbec for Ruth.
You have to make a drink to represent Aberdeen. What would that be?
A latte, because it’s tall, dark and delicious.
Your favourite superhero/celebrity is sitting in the cafe. Who is it and what do you serve them?
If Tony Stark was in the cafe, I would make him a flat white because it’s a proper coffee.
Visit www.birdhousebanchory.myshopify.com for more information and to place an order