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Cardiff character: Natalie Eddins

Natalie prepares a cappuccino
Natalie Eddins

Natalie often works 60 hours a week at Thé Pot – thankfully, she’s never too far from her caffeine fix

It’s three o’clock on a drizzly Friday afternoon, and the lunchtime rush has mostly subsided at Thé Pot on Crwys Road.

“It seems like the worse the weather is, the busier we get!” gushes Natalie Eddins, still buzzing from the lively shift she’s had.

No surprise there: her café is a perfect hideaway for such blustery autumn days, welcoming in Cardiff’s brolly bearers with the hospitality of an old friend and the promise of good coffee. A few customers are still scattered around the room, warming their hands on steaming mugs. They seem reluctant to leave.

Apron still fastened, Natalie allows herself a latte break. She scoots a seat from beneath a polka dot tablecloth, removing a pair of vintage specs and readjusting her brown ponytail.

“I don’t know how people do this full time and have kids,” admits the 33 year old, who opened the café in 2008. “This is enjoyable for me. I wouldn’t want it to feel like it was a chore. It probably would if I were doing it to provide for someone. Natalie prepares a cappuccino

“It’s what’s called a lifestyle business,” she says decisively. “You work as hard as you have to work to keep it going.”

“A lifestyle business”

Indeed, most of Natalie’s life seems to revolve around her café. The other staff who work here are described as family. Her customers are genuine friends. Even her four year relationship with Welsh techno artist Haydon Hughes (also known as Y Pencadlys) can be traced back to days spent working at Thé Pot. 

“I cooked him San Francisco breakfasts over a period of about three months before he finally had the courage to ask me on a date,” she grins.

Natalie grew up in Dinas Powys, and used to work in the same building that Thé Pot now resides in. Back then it was known as Marty’z Kitchen, a popular foodie hangout owned by Ukranian chef Dasha Malakhova, who fostered Natalie’s passion for cooking fresh, wholesome food.

“The café looked very different to what it is now, but the vibe was the same,” says Natalie, glancing towards the small, open plan kitchen that’s now all hers. “The emphasis was always on homemade.”

“The heart of a community”

Thé Pot is most famous for its Californian breakfasts, inspired by the two years that Natalie spent working as a language translator in San Francisco. She also decided that her establishment should embody the sociable atmosphere of a street corner café in Paris, which she experienced whilst living in the French capital during a gap year.

“Even in the centre of Paris, you don’t see many chain establishments,” she explains. “It has this really villagey, communal feel to it. It was from then, really, that I thought I’d like to open somewhere that feels like the heart of a community.”

Six years on, and Thé Pot is just that. Natalie’s only regret is that there aren’t more independent eateries for people in Cardiff to enjoy; she wholeheartedly encourages anyone who dreams of doing something similar.

“If you have a really amazing idea and a business plan, grab it with both hands and do it. If everyone was too scared to, we wouldn’t have places like this.”

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