Leaving the city with a capital idea for coffee

A 10-year-itch led Timothy and Victoria Bosworth to leave behind high-flying careers in London for a caffeine-infused life in Harrogate. Claire Woffenden went along to Hoxton North to find out more.

Victoria and Timothy Bosworth.

After 10 years of working in London, husband and wife Timothy and Victoria Bosworth decided it was time for a change of scenery and a return to their native county of Yorkshire.

The couple had first met on a night out with mutual friends in Leeds in 2002, and moved to the capital the following year in order to further their careers.

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Victoria joined the marketing department of cosmetic giant Estee Lauder promoting brands including Jo Malone, Bobbi Brown, MAC Cosmetics and Clinique, while Timothy forged a career in digital publishing, working for big publishers including Incisive Media and Future Publishing, as well as writing books on productivity and branding.

But it was during a dream wedding abroad that Timothy and Victoria contemplated leaving their London life behind.

Timothy explains: “In 2011, I surprised Victoria by proposing. We got married in 2012 on the island of Ibiza, a place close to our hearts after regular holidays there and also the place where I proposed. But it was our stay there that sparked the desire for change.

“We’d never intended to stay in London on a permanent basis and suddenly we realised that we’d been there for 10 years and it was time for something new. While the diversity, variety and buzz that comes with living in London is second to none, there comes a moment when you have to stop and think, ‘Is this it?’”

The couple discussed returning to Yorkshire to be closer to family – Timothy lived in Harrogate as a child, while Victoria grew up in Guiseley. But Victoria was determined she didn’t want to swap like for like.

Victoria says: “I felt like life was passing me by and working for a large multinational company suddenly felt too pressurised. Timothy has always had a determination to do well and is a bit of an entrepreneur and while we were away I realised I also wanted a taste of what it is like to succeed in something that is your own idea and being the master of your own destiny.”

The couple talked about running a business together and decided that one of the things they loved about living in London was its lively coffee scene especially speciality espresso bars.

“We decided to create a social coffee shop that would give people a place to relax and enjoy their drink while bringing the local community and tourists together,” explains Victoria.

“It’s something we enjoyed so much in London.”

In October 2013, the pair opened the doors to Hoxton North Espresso & Brew Bar on Parliament Street in Harrogate, an area currently undergoing a multi-million pound development and the street that will host the final sprint in the first stage of the Tour de France in July when Yorkshire hosts the Grand Départ.

“The name derives from Hoxton, which is a district in the East End of London and one of our favourite locations,” explains Timothy.

“Hoxton is known for its independent coffee shop culture and we wanted to bring that passion, culture and style to the north of England.”

According to the Bosworths, local shops should be at the heart of every community.

“Our plan is for Hoxton North to host regular social events, including coffee tastings, book launches, poetry readings and live music sessions,” says Victoria.

“We’ve already had events including a discussion evening with a Cornish roaster and an exhibition by artist McAlpine Miller.”

Despite a lack of background and experience in the catering industry, Hoxton North Coffee Shop has recently been shortlisted in the Best Newcomer category in the Harrogate Hospitality and Tourism Awards 2014.

“We’ve had no direct experience in catering,” admits Victoria.

“However we did have friends running their own bars and restaurants, which gave us an insight into what could work in terms of bringing a London-inspired offering to Harrogate.

“Plus, we spent years visiting some of London’s most exciting coffee shops which gave us some great inspiration and experiencing different cultures has influenced some choices in what we offer.

“And although I know it sounds like a big change, but working in the speciality coffee industry is similar in many ways to working in luxury cosmetics. It’s about quality, people and experiences.”

Through their contacts in London, Timothy and Victoria have built up a portfolio of speciality coffee roasters and serve espresso and filter based coffee, whole or ground beans for brewing at home.

They have also looked locally for independent bakers, including a vegan baker, to offer a wide selection of pastries and baked treats such as date flapjack, chocolate brownies and brioche slices.

The whole project has led to a lot of early starts for the hands-on couple, but they insist they couldn’t be happier with how it has gone and the reactions from customers since opening the doors.

“We enjoy meeting, chatting and getting to know our customers, both new and our ever growing number of regulars,” says Timothy.

“We do miss London, however our business means that we will have continued relationships with our coffee roasters who are based down in London, which will allow us to visit regularly.”

He added: “Running your own business is hard, however the benefits are greater.

“We wanted to see more of our friends and families and now we are back in Harrogate we can.

“It was the right decision to leave London.”