Ethically focussed Yorkshire coffee company North Star expands with second shop

Ethically focussed coffee company North Star has opened its second shop in Leeds city centre

The Yorkshire-based company began in 2014 with a small industrial unit in Meanwood, started by husband and wife couple Holly and Alex Kragiopoulos, and has since gone on to open a new roastery and coffee shop at Leeds docks.

Its second store, located on Sovereign Street, opened earlier this week.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The company noted that its journey began over conversations with small-scale coffee growers in Kenya.

Holly and Alex Kragiopoulos in their new shop on Sovereign Street, in Leeds. Photograph by Gerard Binks.Holly and Alex Kragiopoulos in their new shop on Sovereign Street, in Leeds. Photograph by Gerard Binks.
Holly and Alex Kragiopoulos in their new shop on Sovereign Street, in Leeds. Photograph by Gerard Binks.

Founder, Ms Kragiopoulos, explained how the company has always sought to use an ethical approach to coffee production at every stage of its supply chain.

“We dont treat everything with a one size fits all model,” she said.

“You won't see any Fairtrade labels on the coffee that we buy, and the reason for that is that we take a very bespoke approach to each supply partnership that we build.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Over the past 10 years we have built this network of producers that we can work really closely with and are able to understand the circumstances in which they operate which change each year.

“We're able to use the information that we learn from those relationships to take an approach to procurement which goes beyond lots of the well known ethical initiatives.

The company was founded after Ms Kragiopoulos and her husband left university in 2012.

Ms Kragiopoulos specialised in sustainable development at university, and decided to combine this with her love of coffee after leaving.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In 2016, the company moved from its unit in Meanwood to Leeds docks, where in 2017 it opened its first coffee shop.

Originally only a roastery and wholesaler, the company did not intend to sell people coffee from its premises, but changed business model when demand for this began to grow.

Ms Kragiopoulos noted that the pair did not want tackling climate issues to simply be a tick-box exercise for the company.

“Our entire supply chain is governed by the impacts of climate change,” she said.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Coffee faces a very real threat of not being here in the next 30 or so years because of climate change, it's literally dying out as a species, and it's also forcing producers out of the industry because it's not economically rewarding enough.

“So it's a kind of moral obligation to us, and it's also a very practical business sense from our perspective to work on climate resilient initiatives.”

Last year, the company became the first UK coffee roaster using home compostable packaging.

The firm also recently switched to a new coffee roaster which uses 80 per cent less gas.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

North Star has also sponsored the preparation of eight hectares of land in Rwanda in order to support young people coming into the industry.

“The project is distributing around 20,000 coffee trees amongst the youth of the area who otherwise had almost no option but to up and leave to urban areas, or to get into the mining industry that's controlled by China in Rwanda,” said Ms Kragiopoulos.

The opening of the new store has taken place during Ms Kragiopoulos’s maternity leave.

“It's been really strange for me because I'm on maternity leave at the moment, so my brain has been completely elsewhere for the last few months,” she said.

“But it's testament to the team that we’ve built that we have been able to do that.”