Swedish-style cafe opening near Ipswich
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
And... breathe. Stopping to take time for ourselves isn’t something us Brits are known for. If we’re not working (into the small hours), we’re dashing about after children or grandchildren. Or trying to slave our way through piles of washing.
Wouldn't it be nicer to adopt a more ‘continental’ approach to life? Specifically a more Scandi way of living?
The answer from Clare and Scott Forrest, a couple due to open a café in Suffolk and the end of April, is a resounding “yes”.
Made redundant within a week of one another at the beginning of lockdown 1.0, the husband and wife team (who commuted for nearly two decades to London) decided to embrace their newfound freedom and bring to life Clare’s lifelong dream of opening a café in their home county.
The Milk Shed (found next to the day nursery on the slip road off Hadleigh Road in Sproughton), is dedicated to the Swedish tradition of Fika (pronounced fee-kah), and set in a former cow shed, used for 20 years as a recording studio, and more recently as offices.
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But why Fika? And what on earth is it?
“When we got made redundant I thought ‘it’s now or never’,” says Clare, who worked in the corporate world, specifically in events.
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“We absolutely love travelling, and Scott worked in Scandinavia a lot. We were just so inspired by the slower pace of life there – and the café culture and Fika, which means to stop, take a break, and have a coffee and cake. They do that several times a day! I wanted to bring that ethos to Suffolk. To make it a part of peoples’ lives. We’ll have a menu that’s Scandinavian with a twist, but with traditional Suffolk ingredients too.”
Clare says the counter will be laden with sweet and savoury bakes every single day, crafted by her and Scott, and sourced from other small independent businesses in the area.
She imagines customers swinging by and whiling away time with a cup of Bury St Edmunds-made Crude coffee, a magazine, and perhaps a cinnamon bun, vanilla and cardamom knot, brownie or bundt cake.
“Breakfast will be things like smashed avocado on sourdough bread, smoked salmon bagels and granola. All very fresh and simple. And lunch will be a similar theme. About three or four open sandwiches, which we’re working on at the moment, and some smorgasbords/charcuterie boards.”
Takeaway is going to be available too, with Clare and Scott keen to be as sustainable as possible. “We’ve found a company that makes cups out of plants and is carbon neutral. And all our takeaway containers will be compostable or recyclable. That’s something we’ve thought about very carefully.”
Inside, the couple have gone for a contemporary feel to reflect the, cool, calm, relaxed vibe they’re after. “It is a traditional building, but we’ve given it our stamp. In the first room is the coffee counter, with wooden beams and wooden flooring. We’ve used Farrow and Ball Pitch Blue paint and sourced Danish vintage chairs from a company in Suffolk – they're beautiful. All our tables are also made in the UK.”
Out of lockdown, The Milk Shed will cover 36 inside and a similar number outside in the covered al fresco dining space, currently under construction. Until restrictions are lifted, this number will be reduced, with spacing measures in place.
Disabled/buggy access runs from the car park, giving level access to the building, and there are 11 car parking spaces for customers to use.
“We’re really hoping to become a bit of a destination,” Clare adds. “Somewhere people can stop off easily out of the town, maybe on their way for a day out.”
Follow The Milk Shed on Instagram and Facebook for full details of opening times and dates, to be released later in April.