Old-fashioned Nottingham café reopens selling 'cheapest coffee in the city'

Church warden Dorothy Mountford and cafe manager Kosta Konstantinos at St Peter's Coffee Room in Nottingham
Church warden Dorothy Mountford and cafe manager Kosta Konstantinos at St Peter's Coffee Room in Nottingham -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

A old-fashioned Nottingham cafe, hidden in plain sight, is being catapulted into 2024... minus the high prices. The coffee shop is located at the medieval church, St Peter's, in the heart of the city centre but because it's tucked away many by-passers don't even know it's there.

The appointment of a new manager has led to a revamp, a new menu, and a fresh approach in the hope of attracting younger customers without alienating the older loyal regulars. St Peter's Coffee Room, up the steps (or via a ramp at the side) has been at St Peter's Gate next to M&S for 20 years but at the end of 2023 the manager retired after 20 years of serving toasted teacakes, quiche, scones and soup.

The 50-seater cafe, which closed just before Easter, has now reopened - Monday to Saturday - following the appointment of Kosta Konstantinos, who has a wealth of experience in hospitality and previously worked as catering manager at the House of Fraser's Cafe Zest.

Get the latest What's On news straight to your phone by joining us on WhatsApp

New decor has brightened up the space. Kosta said: "It was really dark, really dated. It's a fresh start to make it more inviting and more bright. You can't change a lot of things but you can change small things. Next week I'm waiting for all my flowers and plants to come to make it more alive."

This week it's just sandwiches and cakes but next week will be the launch of the full menu. Old favourites still remain but new items include avocado on toast, toast with toppings such as Nutella and banana, granola, pastrami sandwiches, salmon bagels and Croque Monsieur.

St Peter's Coffee Room at the church in Nottingham
St Peter's Coffee Room at the church in Nottingham -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

Customers can get a pot of tea for £2.20 or an Americano for £2.30 - some of the cheapest prices in the city centre for a sit-down drink. All the food is £5.70 and under, while a fruit scone is £2.20 and a slice of cake £3.30. Profits go towards restoring the Grade I listed church, parts of which date back to the 13th century.

Kosta, 48, brings energy, enthusiasm and creativity to the role. As a shy 16-year-old his first job was cleaning 3,000 shrimps a day in a taverna in Greece. As a young gay man he felt safe and that's an environment he strives to create today.

"Being gay abroad wasn't easy when I was growing up. When I applied for this job, I knew the church and its inclusivity and support of the LGBT community so it's already a safe place," he said.

The reason why the prices are as low as they are is because there are just two paid members of staff, Kosta and trainee assistant manger Rio Barrett, 18, who used to work for Cartwheel coffee shop in Low Pavement, Nottingham, before its closure.

The entrance to St Peter's Coffee Room
The entrance to St Peter's Coffee Room -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

Some of the volunteers are foreign students, who frequent the church. An economics student from Nigeria will be starting there on Saturday. She'd offered to wash up but Kosta is encouraging her to operate the till, serve customers and learn more skills than simply washing pots.

"If people want to pick up new skills I'm more than happy to teach them and mentor them. Why hide in the kitchen when you can learn new skills?" he said.

One of Kosta's goals is to attract younger customers by adding millennial and Gen Z favourites such as avocado on toast and drinks like matcha, chai and iced lattes. Moving forward the cafe could be renamed and Kosta is hoping to promote it on Instagram and set up a pre-ordering system for lunchtime salads and sandwiches.

One original aspect that hasn't changed is the coffee room's artwork on the ceiling of cross keys representing St Peter, heaven's gatekeeper.

Dorothy Mountford, church warden and coffee shop director, said: "Kosta brings creativity, vision and heart. We want to bring it into 2024 but still have our own identity. I know we can do that.

"We have a very loyal customer base and we don't want to looe those older people. It's about welcoming people and making them feel comfortable. A lot of people come in here because they're lonely. A lot say to me it's the only place in Nottingham they feel comfortable to sit at a table with other people they don't know. But some people walk past and don't know it's here."