Applaud, Ipswich, announces its festive afternoon tea menu (spoiler - it sounds delish)

Applaud's festive afternoon tea Picture: Applaud

Applaud's festive afternoon tea Picture: Applaud - Credit: Archant

Our Best Coffee Shop winners have much to celebrate this year.

Small but perfectly formed would be the best way to describe Applaud. It is not a big operation by any stretch of the imagination. Just a few tables fill the bijoux café on Ipswich’s St Peter’s street. But what it lacks in capaciousness, Applaud more than makes up for in its food and drink offering.

As you enter, pulling open the tinkling door, a burst of fresh barista-made coffee assaults your senses, and the eyes are drawn to the golden sausage rolls and herby scones layered up at the counter, or the plates brimming with homemade bakes – from peanut butter and white chocolate blondies, to big fat slices of lemon drizzle.

It’s a remarkable achievement that sisters Hannah Huntley and Beth Cook have won our Best Coffee Shop/Tearoom prize in the Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards twice – most recently this spring – and regular customers will attest to its greatness.

“We were really pleased to win it a second time,” the sisters, who celebrated their fifth birthday in the summer, said. “Consistency is the hardest thing, so to win it twice shows we must be doing something right. We have so many regular customers. It creates a real community and buzz. It’s a really sociable environment.”

A huge focus, says Beth, is the coffee, which certainly impressed our judges both times around. “It’s from Butterworths in Bury and we do a lot of staff training and we’ll only let baristas serve to customers once we feel they’re ready. If someone orders from me one day, they need to be able to come in and get the same great cup of coffee from someone else on the team on any other day.”

Keeping the menu brief has been key to the Applaud formula, ensuring wait times are short and waste is minimised. The new menu, just launched, offers cheddar and chilli jam toastie, Serrano ham, mozzarella and sundried tomato on ciabatta, baba ganoush and roasted vegetables on sourdough, and homemade soup.

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Cakes change seasonally, with Applaud having one of the biggest and best selections in town. “As we come into the winter months we’ll have things like date slice, gingerbread and chocolate and treacle cake,” says Hannah, who does the baking, with Beth adding that her favourites cooked up by her sister are the white chocolate and citrus sponge, and millionaire’s shortbread.

“We always have vegan and gluten-free cakes,” adds Beth, “and we have homemade vegan cinnamon rolls some mornings.”

Adding another feather to their caps, the sisters opened a second Applaud branch six months ago, in Crown House – having initially been approached by the property’s management company two years ago.

Open both to the building’s office staff and the general public, Beth says the café is a bit more industrial in style, lending itself to meetings and out of office working, and with a menu including their fabulous cakes as well as lots of portable food and meal deals to be taken away.

Clearly their business acumen is working, and the young entrepreneurs have much to celebrate, with the duo having recently been selected to be celebrated as two of Suffolk’s Most Inspirational Women at a lunch this November.

“We love it,” they said. “We wouldn’t do anything else.”

Applaud starts its popular festive afternoon teas in December, available from 2pm, Monday to Saturday. Bookings must be made in advance. The tea includes a sausage roll, mini cheese scone with Christmas chutney, beetroot and walnut hummus with chives on toast, a mince pie, iced gingerbread and white chocolate rocky road, all served with tea or coffee.

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