We catch up with owner Jimmy Dimitrov over a speciality coffee to find out more about his popular North Street café, and community partner of Boardwalk, Sweven.
When Jimmy Dimitrov opened Sweven Coffee with his wife, Aga, back in December 2019 no one could have predicted how the next few months would pan out. Located on the corner of 12 North Street, Southville the coffee shop had been up and running for just three months when the pandemic came and – briefly – put a stop to everything. “It was a huge shock as both myself and my wife had quit senior roles at large coffee companies to start Sweven Coffee, so it was an unnerving time,” explains Jimmy.
Jimmy has been in the coffee game for years, competing in coffee championships and previously working as Head of Education at Bristol-based Clifton Coffee. Similarly, Aga was Head of Coffee at Boston Tea Party prior to setting up the café. “We’re both passionate about coffee, so when I came across the old English word ‘Sweven’ – meaning dream or vision – I felt it aligned with our messaging,” he adds.
Fortunately, it wasn’t long before the café was allowed to reopen for takeaway, with appropriate safety measures in place. “It was a huge relief,” says Jimmy. “We were one of the first cafes on North street to reopen and the government were really impressed with the system we put in place. They actually filmed the shop and posted on their official channels, and we’ve been busy operating a takeout service ever since.”
With a wealth of experience between them, Jimmy and Aga focus on serving speciality coffee to the people of Bristol. “We have really specific, technical equipment to create our coffees, and we work with roasters around the world. We're super proud to be part of the global coffee community,” he says. The drinks menu consists of four carefully curated coffees, including two types of espresso and two filter options. “Espresso 1 is our house coffee – it is produced especially for us by my good friend Alan Hartmann of Finca Hartmann in Panama. It's sweet and complex coffee and you won't find it anywhere else,” explains Jimmy. “Espresso 2 rotates every week or two, so you can always try something new,” he adds. The filter coffees are delicate and are to be enjoyed slowly, allowing you to explore the nuanced flavours that come through.
But that’s not all – Sweven also offers Comins tea, from Bath, and award-winning hot chocolate from Bare Bones of Glasgow. “On top of that, we have delicious pastries from Betinet Bakery in Bath. And my wife, Aga, bakes a range of cakes for the cafe,” recommends Jimmy. “Her chocolate salted caramel and pistachio tart is very popular. We also have vegan fruitcakes, chocolate brownies, carrot cake.”
Before lockdowns hit, Sweven Coffee ran a tea tasting event with their friends at Comins and look forward to planning more of these events soon. “We’d love to host local community events, and we look forward to welcoming people back into our café,” adds Jimmy.
“I've been living in Bristol for many years now, and I love it because it's different. It's the best place to run a small, independent business as the people of Bristol are so supportive. I know customers of ours who have walked miles just to grab a cup of coffee because they appreciate the quality and know how much it means to small business owners like us,” says Jimmy. “There's such a strong community spirit and Bristol is brewing with creativity; you really can't compare this city to anywhere else.”