When you have little ones at home, working family-friendly hours is often the dream. With that in mind, Paul Haggath and his wife Wendy took their love of coffee to another level and launched Symposium in 2008. More than ten years and ten shops on, Paul took time out from roasting coffee and chilling with his daughters to tell Ellon Life about his family-run coffee houses…

Everyone deserves great coffee…

“I’ve always loved working with people and making them happy. Having the opportunity to build somewhere in the community that folk wanted to visit – and work – was so exciting.

I studied hospitality management and worked in hotels for years so knew the importance of having a strong brand. I set to work on it long before we even opened. We had a clear vision and worked hard on the brand guidelines and logo, as well as deciding on Symposium’s overall style of service. Ultimately, it was all about great service, great food and great coffee – not just serving it, but roasting our own delicious beans, too.

We launched in Peterhead and Ellon was our second location. Now, we have ten shops throughout Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray where customers can enjoy freshly roasted coffee, made-to-order lunches and fantastic home bakes.

We may have expanded ten-fold but our founding principles are still the same. We love people, we care and we’re passionate about roasting our own coffee.

Click and collect

That said, we make sure to move with the times. Introducing click and collect means customers can grab and go without compromising on quality, whilst our in-house roasted coffee is available by post and we hire out a coffee cart for events.

Great team of coffee experts

Symposium wouldn’t be where it is today without its great team of coffee experts who take on all of our crazy ideas and action them! Whilst it’s great to hear how good our coffee and food is, what we really love to hear from customers (and luckily do hear often) is how friendly and helpful the team is. We really do work with the best people.“

Symposium coffee house, owner Paul Haggath

I love #ellonlife because…

“It has a unique mix of old and new – both businesses and buildings. We have great local schools, as well as unique, independent business and picturesque river walks. We’re lucky to have a busy, characterful town centre and it’s only going to get better with further investment.”

Quickfire Q&A

What does your typical day look like?
School runs, office work, shop visits, networking, training, reading, thinking and reflecting – always rounded off with a family supper.

Best business advice for starting out?
Business plan, business plan, business plan! And don’t be afraid to grab opportunities.

What’s next for Symposium?
Streamlining procedures and expanding. In five years, we’ll be the same but bigger and better!

Biggest business challenge so far?
Unfortunately, I had a stroke in 2018 and it was a tough time for Symposium. The survival of the business was largely down to our brilliant team. Since then, I’ve re-evaluated my role to make sure I’m looking after my health as well as I am the shops!

Fact file

Symposium Coffee House
Address: Neil Ross Square, 25 Bridge Street, Ellon, AB41 3AA
email: info@symposium.coffee
Call: 01358 724673
Visit: www.symposium.coffee

Open: Open Monday to Friday from 8am until 4pm; Saturday from 9am until 4pm and Sunday from 10am until 4pm.

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