The community portal site for Downham Market since 2007

Reeds Cafe profits from Beverage Standards Association training

The Beverage Standards Association (BSA) (, the national body which aims to raise standards in hot drinks, recently provided training for Reeds Homestore Café to help the café improve its offering to customers.
Feedback from customers has been very positive. Jim Carlile, managing director, Reeds Homestore, says “As a result of the training carried out by Jon Skinner from the BSA, I’ve now got motivated staff who have upped their game and want to maintain high standards; Jon has raised the bar. He carried out the training with a level of humour while still managing to get the points across. I’ve entered the BSA Accreditation and Best Drink Awards again this year and will continue to do so every year as it keeps me and my staff on our toes!”

Jim was disappointed by the result of last year’s Accreditation assessment result by the Beverage Standards Association. He wrote to Ranald Paterson, chairman of the BSA assessors, who carried out a further assessment and supplied a detailed report, as well as offering training which the BSA would pay for. Ranald says “If only more café owners would follow Jim’s example, the café experience would be one of quality and enjoyment rather than mediocrity and disappointment. Not only did Jim ask for more information on what was wrong, but more importantly, he wanted advice on the steps he might take to improve and correct. It’s good to know that his customers recognise and appreciate the improvements.”

jim_carlile_reeds_homestore_with_staff_member_joanne_mitchellJim said “I thought the points Ranald made were fair and honest and was keen to take up his offer of training. All my staff – nine in total – attended, even coming in on their day off. They were excited and flattered that someone was coming from the BSA to give training. Jon was brilliant. He covered the major points such as checking the grinder on the coffee machine and the extraction time on the machine three times a day; the right and wrong way to heat up milk and how to avoid putting too much foam into a hot drink. He taught everyone how to make cappuccino, latte and espresso. I don’t normally use the coffee machine, but I made a cappuccino.”

Jon Skinner from the BSA says “The Association aims to help coffee shops like Reeds Homestore improve their game through our Accreditation Awards and by providing training. We’re very impressed by Jim’s proactive approach. Following the BSA assessment, he saw his supplier and discussed what they could do, bought new equipment and coffee and involved us. The training was successful because Jim made sure everyone was there, attended the session himself and made sure everyone participated. Jim encouraged the staff to keep trying to make a hot drink until they got it right. It underlines how important it is to have the boss involved with training.

“One of the biggest issues we covered is how to unlearn bad habits. A good espresso comes out of the machine in 20 seconds – that’s the time from when the liquid comes off the bottom of the group handle, known as the ‘extraction time’. This is critical to quality coffee. The majority of coffee shops extract too quickly and this doesn’t let the natural sugars dissolve so you get a bitter taste. Coffee is such as volatile product – it changes throughout the day so the grinder and extraction time must be checked at least three times a day to ensure good tasting coffee and this is what I taught the staff.”

The training wasn’t just about coffee. Since Jon’s visit, Reeds Homestore Café now give customers a timer when they serve tea “as Jon says the average brew time is three minutes and it’s important customers know this otherwise they pour it out too quickly,” adds Jim.
Jim opened Reeds Homestore nine years ago and nine months later installed a 65 seat café, open 9am to 4.45pm Monday to Saturday. “There wasn’t anywhere to get a decent cup of coffee,” says Jim. He has three sons Jack, Joe and Josh, but it remains to be seen whether any of them will join the family business.

Jim’s wife Rachel bakes all the cakes including the acclaimed gluten free lemon drizzle cake made out of mashed potato, Victoria sponge and cappuccino cake. Other menu items include home-made soups, baguettes, toasted sandwiches and daily specials – two meat and a vegetarian dish.

For more information on Reeds Homestore go to
For more information about the Beverage Standards Association (BSA) and the annual Accreditation and Best Drink Awards,



Unlike the other ‘local’ papers which are owned by big businesses, downhamweb has always been owned and run by local people in Downham Market. Our reporting will always be free without paywalls, independent from advertisers and run for the benefit of the community. 

Please consider supporting downhamweb to help us to keep providing this service to the community. If you can, please donate or set up a monthly contribution.