MK Gallery Café champions local producers

Milton Keynes Gallery have championed 4 local suppliers who provide food and drink for their on-site café.

Regulars at MK Gallery Café already know that local producers and suppliers form the touchstone for what’s on its menu.

Well, you don’t get much more local than these: Milk & Beans, Milton Keynes’ first speciality coffee roaster; The Willen Ice Cream Company a family run business producing award winning artisan ice cream; Blackened Sun Brewing Company, a micro craft brewery in Stacey Bushes that makes some of the finest artisan beer; and Bucks Brothers, three brothers born and raised in Buckinghamshire distilling some very special gins.

Products from all four vendors are now on the menu at the Gallery’s Café.

Milk & Beans owner Carlo Scarito recently held a coffee tasting session with Café staff and after many espressos, the team agreed that Mió Brazilian coffee beans with its chocolatey with tangerine notes would be the new bean for its double shot, free-pour lattes, flat whites, cappuccinos, espressos, americanos, macchiatos, and cortados.

The team appreciated learning from Carlo the provenance of the beans as he explained: ‘It is important to me that customers know about the beans they are buying, that they are informed. They can pass on this knowledge to their customers. We are all becoming more invested in what we buy – where it was made, who made it – being part of ethical trade.

‘The beans the Café has ordered are from a farm that guarantees 100% traceability for all its crops which is exceedingly rare. It has been family run for generations and I’ve met the mother and the daughter of the family, which is awesome.’

MK residents may be familiar with Richard Gordon, owner of The Willen Ice Cream Company, as he’s a dedicated vendor at local farmers markets throughout the year.

His impressive community credentials are contained in every scoop of his product as he explains: ‘From cow to cone our process is second to none. It really is a flavour of love! Producing delicious ice cream for everyone with local producers is at the heart of what we do. We hand-craft premium artisan ice creams using the finest, freshest, natural ingredients.

‘We’re delighted that MK Gallery Café are selling five of our flavours: House of Luke (DF, Vg); Foxdenton Dark Lantern Rum & Rasin; Strawberry (DF, V); Simply Dairy; and Passionfruit Sorbet (DF; Vg). We have a lot in common – we source locally, are community focussed, and love ice cream!’

With an ethos based on creativity, skill, precision and passion, a partnership between MK Gallery Blackened Sun Brewing Company makes perfect sense.

The micro craft brewery uses only the best ingredients. It doesn’t filter or pasteurise beer, it leaves it to mature and condition naturally to create a fuller more diverse flavour. Its beers contain no additives or chemicals, and the majority are suitable for vegans which is important to many Café customers.

Gary Morse, owner of Blacked Sun Brewing Company is a keen supporter of MK Gallery and its place in the community, he said: ‘We’ve enjoyed hosting a beer tasting sessions for the Café team. They were enthusiastic and keen to know details about our brewing process. There was a healthy debate about which of our beers would be suited to their audience. It’s great to be working with local organisations such as MK Gallery. The Café appreciates our ethos, and its discerning customers appreciate our beer.’

The renaissance of gin in the UK continues unabated, and the Gallery Café was keen to offer its customers a local brand. After much ‘research’ they have a new contender of ‘mothers’ ruin’ on its shelves – Buck Brothers Gin. The Buckinghamshire family run spirit company, set up during lockdown, distils gin with flavours inspired by local heritage.

Owners Max, Jake and Gus explained their brand: ‘Our brand is soaked in our life philosophy: to have fun and keep things simple, which is why we create exceptionally tasty spirits, with none of the fuss. Like the Gallery Café, we’re keen to celebrate all things local, so it’s great it has begun to stock our gin, starting with Pomegranate and Sloe Gin Liqueur’.

Andrew Papworth, Head of Events & Catering, MK Gallery said: ‘Working with local suppliers is important to us. The Gallery is rooted in the community, and we are keen to support our existing links and build more across all areas of the organisation. All profits from our Café go back into supporting our exhibitions, learning and community programmes.

‘So next time you buy a coffee, beer, G&T, or ice cream in the Café we thank you because you’re
helping to fund the exhibition next door, the art club for local children, local businesses and a family
run farm in Brazil.’

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