SCOTLAND boasts a surfeit of coffee shops, but none can claim to be Alpine inspired – until now.
The country’s first and only Swiss coffee shop has opened in the Borders.
Yummleys is the brainchild of former City high-flyer Oli Hofer who has realised a long held dream to open his own food outlet.
The delectable sounding venture promises to offer customers a genuine taste of the mountainous and landlocked country famed for its chocolate and other sweet treats.
For not only was Oli born in Basle and raised in Zurich, but Yummleys’ enticing homemade cakes and pastries can trace their roots back to recipes passed down through four generations of the Hofer family.
Oli’s great-grandmother committed to paper around 60 cake and 30 savoury recipes between 1914-1920.
Now the tried and tested confections are being served up to a new audience more than 900 miles from Switzerland in the small village of Reston near Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Oli is confident Yummleys is Scotland’s only authentic Swiss coffee shop. “You can’t get more Swiss than me, so if I happen to be proved wrong on the confiserie and patisserie side of the business I feel very happy as a Swiss national to still claim Yummleys is Scotland’s only Swiss Coffee Shop,” he states.
“And because of my heritage and because we are using my great grandmother’s genuine Swiss cake recipes, I have a unique taste for the patisserie and anything to do with baking and chocolate.”
All the cakes are made fresh daily on site by Oli’s partner Leya Reid and 16 year-old apprentice baker Louise McLean, who lives in Reston, using ingredients from mainly small local artisan producers.
Many of the recipes will be familiar: cakes like carrot, lemon drizzle, orange and almond, Schwyzer Schoggi Chuche (Swiss Chocolate cake), cinnamon and hazelnut slice and Florentines. But while the names may be the same the taste definitely isn’t.
These Swiss versions are a world away from their British counterparts and well worth a revisit.
The carrot cake, for instance, uses ground almonds instead of flour and is surprisingly light. It is generously flavoured with lemon and is moist but not damp or greasy as is often the case with the UK variety with the fat instead coming from the nuts
Oli was a banker for 24 years in Zurich and London before tiring of the rat race and moving to the Borders in 2006 after being impressed by the area’s beauty and friendliness.
He worked in the voluntary sector and as a gardener in Edinburgh, but had always dreamed of introducing his great grandmother’s recipes to fellow cake lovers.
Scotland’s first and only Swiss coffee shop was the perfect vehicle.
In March this year, the banker-turned-barista took over what had been the Red Lion Pub in Reston – a 1781 coaching inn just half a mile from the A1 close to Berwick, Eyemouth and the spectacularly rugged Berwickshire coast – and set about transforming it into Yummleys Country Coffee Shop.
Oli, 48, said: “I am ecstatic about my new venture and the positive response we have already had from locals and visitors alike. Yummleys’ focus is to bring the real taste of Swiss baked cakes and pastries to Scotland.
“We are doing all our own baking on site using as many local ingredients as possible. I am a firm believer that local is best across all walks of life and that if you support your neighbours then they will support you.”
Over 90 per cent of the ingredients used at Yummleys are local, with suppliers including Doddington Dairy at Wooler in north Northumberland, Border Eggs at Hutton, Julian’s Veg at Kelso, seasonal fruit from a nearby pick-your-own business, meat from Reiver Country Farm a mile up the road from Reston and fish from Eyemouth .
Jams, chutneys and lemon curd are all made on site.
Yummleys plans to fly the flag for local producers in other ways too. Events linked to Scottish Food Fortnight in September are being planned to help raise public awareness about the plethora of great foods on their doorstep.
At the moment Yummleys – which also serves a bistro menu Friday-Sunday lunchtimes – is only open during the day, but it is hoped to also hold evening food and drink events. Whisky (a trial event with Peebles-based Glenross Whiskies in June proved popular) and wine tasting nights are on the cards.
For Oli it is all a long way from London’s Square Mile. But he said: “I love cakes, I love good food, I love Berwickshire, I love local produce and I love meeting new people.
“What is there not to be happy about?”
* Yummleys, Main Street, Reston, TD14 5JP, 01890 761 266, Twitter: @Yummley_berwick. Open Tuesday-Sunday 9am-6pm and bank holiday Mondays.