Community being important to us, you can imagine how happy we were to welcome the opening of the new neighbourhood speciality coffee shop of our dreams – Lodestar – ‘the friendliest cafe in town’..and it’s all down to Buğra Marasalı, who we caught up with recently…
Tell us about yourself?
Hi, I am Bugra. I was born in Hackney and then moved to Cyprus when I was very young. I came back to Hackney 5 years ago to pursue my dream and open a cafe and finally managed to do it last year.
Are you a multilocal?
I do think I am multilocal. I have definitely felt very local in Paris and Stockholm the most within the cities I have visited.
Why open a cafe? Why Hackney?
I was always very interested in cooking. I have dreamt of having a cafe and to have my own recipes. Later on, I got more into coffee because of the bar I used to work. I was doing morning shifts and mostly had to make coffees to the locals around. I chose Hackney for several reasons. First of all is that the shop has been in the family for such a long time. It was my father’s upholstery business for past 40 years. Another reason is that I have always felt connected to Hackney even though I was raised in Cyprus. I have always felt as a part of the community since I moved back to Hackney and I wanted to give the locals a space they can relax and enjoy a good cup of coffee.
Why the name Lodestar?
The name Lodestar was actually suggested by a friend. We did it the other way around by creating the logo and then picking a name. A friend of mine suggested Lodestar because it means “a star that is used to guide” and he thought it would be a good idea to link that to coffee.
We love your logo, can you tell us how you came up with it?
Our logo is inspired by the Ursa Major Constellation, which, if you look at it in detail, looks like a cezve (also known as ibrik) & and a portafilter. Cezve is a coffee pot which is used to make Turkish coffee, and a portafilter is used to make an espresso.
How much coffee do you drink in a day?
I drink up to 7 or 8 cups a day. But it is mostly to taste the coffee and make sure that the recipe and the taste is still right. It’s mostly for quality check.
What do you love most about your job?
Socialising is one of my favourite things about my job. I really love interacting with the customers and I really believe that even asking basic questions about their day is making difference in their lives. I really enjoy small talks and see people leaving with a smile on their faces.
Have you faced any challenges?
It was very challenging opening the shop. I had problems with the council for licensing, builders not doing their jobs, opening the cafe kept getting delayed for so many reasons. I did not think it would be that difficult. Maybe I just underestimated some of the work that had to be done for the restoration. I thought it would be a very smooth process.
What have you learnt from the process so far?
Now I know that I should expect the unexpected!
How do you manage stress? / What motivates you?
Usually playing video games or taking short walks is a way to relax (and I do it very often). I get motivated by the feedback I get from our customers. Just a simple sentence like “coffee tastes great” is enough for me to stay motivated.
What plans do you have for the future?
I want to start roasting my own coffee at some point. Sourcing the beans myself and taking care of the whole process from farm to cup is my plan for the future.
Favourite day of the week: Friday
Favourite local shops: Hai Cafe and Casey’s
Favourite drink to make /drink? Flat White
Perfect Sunday? Taking care of the plants at home, drinking coffee and a short walk in the neighbourhood.
What are you reading at the moment? Sip’n’ Slurp: A guide to expert coffee tasting
What are you listening to? I am listening to Chet Faker nowadays. I also play it at the shop most of the time.
Something you want to learn? I want to learn a new language. Especially Greek and German.