Check out Suffolk's newest artisanal coffee shop and bakery

Ben Barker and Ed Stone, owners of Smalltown

Ben Barker and Ed Stone, owners of Smalltown - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

As autumn settles in and the days get colder, few things beat a freshly-brewed cup of coffee and a warm pastry.  

And if you happen to be in or around Clare this season, you have to check out the latest addition to the village.

Local entrepreneurs and childhood friends Ben Barker and Ed Stone have teamed up to open Smalltown – an independent, artisan café and bakery. 

Ben, who also works as a professional motorsport driver, explains what inspired him to bring something new and exciting to this part of Suffolk. 

Ben Barker, baker Rosie Rush and Ed Stone

Ben Barker, baker Rosie Rush and Ed Stone - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“I’ve always had a passion for coffee and going to coffeeshops, ever since I moved to Australia about 10 years ago. And in the background I’ve always toyed with the idea of opening up one myself, but I’ve just haven’t had the time to.” 

But after the former Café Clare closed its doors following the owner's retirement, the perfect space became available - and Ben jumped at the chance to make his dreams a reality. 

“I actually grew up in Clare, and during lockdown, I’d been thinking about the whole idea a bit more seriously. And when that building went on sale, I thought it was a good opportunity to just dive in and go for it,” he says.  

Freshly-brewed coffee is on the menu

Freshly-brewed coffee is on the menu - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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And nine months later, Smalltown was born - its name a reference to Clare’s claim to fame as being Suffolk’s smallest town (it's actually classed as a large village).  

“I've set this up with my friend Ed Stone, who I’ve known since primary school. He’s spent years working in the hospitality industry, and he’s a bit more clued up on the sector than I am.” 

So, what’s on the menu?  

Visitors can expect to step through the door and have their senses tantalised by a variety of sourdough loaves and cinnamon buns lovingly created by in-house baker Rosie.  

Baker Rosie Rush

Baker Rosie Rush - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“At the moment we’ve also got specialist coffee from The Missing Bean, who are good friends of mine. And we hope to start serving croissants, pain au chocolats and pain au raisins.

"We’re starting off quite small at the moment, but we’re expanding the menu as we go on. Think sourdough sandwiches and toasties, all made using produce from local suppliers. 

“Our ethos is to also be as minimal on waste as possible, and we use biodegrable cups here in the café.” 

Located on Well Lane, Smalltown had its grand opening on Saturday, October 23 – and reviews so far have been nothing but positive.  

“Our first day was really busy, and we had queues of people. The whole town is really supportive as Clare hasn’t had a bakery for many years, so I think everyone is loving it.” 

“Clare is a fairly sizeable town – there's a real community here. You’ve got the castle, and there’s also lots of through traffic from tourists and cyclists. We saw Smalltown as a chance to set up something we thought we would go down well, and so far so good.” 

Smalltown is open Wednesday to Saturday between 8.30am and 4.30pm, and on Sundays between 9am and 3pm. 

To find out more, visit small-t.co.uk 

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