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North Wales coffee culture brought to life by Glyndŵr University student

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February 6 2015

A project is being launched to tell the stories of coffee houses and coffee drinking culture across North Wales - and the organisers want the public’s help to do it.

Illustrator Yvie Johnson wants to map the region’s independent coffee houses in a beautiful new coffee table style book to be produced at the end of the project, which is being marketed with the hashtag #CoffeeTrailBook on social media.

She’s launched an on-line survey asking people to recommend coffee houses that should be included, and explain why.

Participants are asked to write down a memorable experience they’ve had at that coffee house - which could be anything from a particularly kind staff member, to receiving news of a job offer there, or witnessing a marriage proposal.

The survey then gives an opportunity to nominate a second choice. Yvie’s team will decide which coffee houses should be included in the book based on the responses.

Yvie says: “The idea is for it to be really collaborative and find out which North Wales coffee houses the people really love. Taking part in the survey is critical - if we don’t receive a recommendation for an establishment then we won’t have it on our list.

“We’re excited to hear people’s stories, whether it’s telling us the owner is a great entertainer, how the coffee beans are roasted on site, or why it’s simply a great place for a business meeting or a catch up with friends.”

Anyone who takes part in the survey will get a mention in the project’s blog, and anyone who Yvie decides she’d like to quote in the book will be invited for a coffee on the house at their establishment of choice, for a further chat about their memories.

The finished book will include photography, and illustrations by Yvie, as well as stories from each coffee house.

Mum-of-three Yvie from Denbigh has also had a YouTube video produced to explain what it’s all about, and how she wants it to be a truly ‘organic’ process.

It was filmed at One Planet Adventure’s Mountain Biking Centre in Llandegla forest and the Sugar Plum tea rooms in Rhewl near Ruthin. The video also features her partner Tom, and children: Sydney, Maja and Ben.

Yvie, a former North Wales police officer who is now retraining as a children’s book illustrator at Glyndŵr University, explains in the video: “Coffee for me means getting together, finding the time to relish in good taste and good company, exchanging memories, and creating memories.

“This campaign is about putting together a coffee book which documents not only the hidden coffee houses in the region of North Wales, but also what it is about coffee that brings people together, and who they decide to share their experience with.”

Yvie left her job as an officer with North Wales Police in 2013 and set up her own creative design company eden with pencils.

She is currently studying for a BA (Hons) Illustration, Graphic Novels and Children’s Publishing at Glyndŵr University.

Yvie says: “Being in the police opened my eyes to social issues that I may never have come across. I'm now creating my future by design.

“Part of why I'm doing this book and the children's books is because I’ve come to appreciate community cohesion, foundation education, and positivity.”

The photos and video to launch the social media campaign were produced by Glyndŵr University creative lens media graduate Joe Edwards, who attained a 2:1 degree in 2011. He said: "I'm excited to be working on the Coffee Trail project because I think it's great to see community supported projects benefiting local businesses."

Some of the filming was at the Sugar Plum Tea Rooms in Rhewl, near Ruthin.

Hazel Roberts, who owns the cafe with her husband John said: “We are passionate about our business and support Yvie 100% in her quest. We feel strongly about needing to put North Wales on the map.

“Sugar Plum is a fun place to be for all the family. It has a unique atmosphere with a big heart.

“We we see ourselves almost as a hub for the community, providing the perfect conditions to bring people together.”

Filming also took place at the One Planet Adventure mountain biking centre’s cafe in Llandegla Forest, the cafe’s owner, who goes by the name of Badger to staff and customers, said: “I have absolute admiration for what Yvie is doing.

“Coffee is a subject close to my heart and so to write a book about that, and to map what’s on offer in North Wales, which is also close to my heart, I think it’s fantastic.

"Everybody loves coffee but you don’t see many books about it, so I think this will be a real success.

"As a mountain biking centre we are all about promoting fun and healthy lifestyles with good food and good coffee to go with it, so there’s a lot of similarity with the ethos of the book, and the sentiments behind it, with what we are about.”

The book will be published by Middle Farm Press an independent publishing house in Shrewsbury, it is the brainchild of publishing guru Kate Taylor and author Sam Grey.

Kate said: “It’s projects like this that make you want to stand up and shout ‘Get Involved People!’ because the more interaction, the more the public get involved, the richer the content.

“It’s a great idea and we’re really excited about the prospect of working with Yvie on it.”

To take part and complete the on-line survey go to: www.surveymonkey.com/s/CoffeeTrailBook

The project is being promoted on Twitter with the hashtag: #coffeetrailbook and you can also follow @coffeetrailbook

The Facebook page for the project is: www.facebook.com/coffeetrailbook

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