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Cardiff Character: Rob Cooper

The owner of independent Cardiff coffee shop The Little Man Coffee Company is 6 ft 4 inches tall. In his words, he’s “One inch from being medically classed as a giant.”

Having just celebrated the coffee shop’s first birthday, Rob Cooper (35) opens up about himself over a cappuccino.

Rob is a big man, but in no way arrogant or intimidating. Jovial and optimistic, he has an air of hospitality about him and a youthful, good-humoured expression.

A former bar-manager for Revolution Vodka Bars, he is content with having swapped late nights for an early morning. This also suits his future role as a dad better – he’s expecting his first child in March.

On a typical day his alarm goes off at 05:15. He has a quick bowl of porridge, mounts his bike and gets into work at 6:30. After that, he starts to tick things off his checklist in the small office he refers to as his “cupboard.”

Big Personality

Rob is particular about what he does and doesn’t like. He doesn’t limit himself to coffee and appreciates the occasional PG tips. Because he believes in recycling, he made himself a desk out of a door he cut down. He’s had the same big, black diary for ten years despite encouragements to go digital and still prefers pencils, rubbers and sharpeners to pens. By no means an art-aficionado, Rob also regularly promotes local artists’ work in his coffee shop because he likes trying to help people.

Good relationships with customers are important, says Little Man Coffee owner Rob Cooper

Apart from pronounced opinions about his preferences, Rob also has a few obsessions, amongst which feature Star Wars, cricket and addictive games on his phone (for which he refuses to show the stats). Despite his switched-on, practical personality, this reveals a child-like side to his character which becomes increasingly apparent.

As well as owning every Star Wars lego key-ring, his wife gave him Lego Death Star (a 275 kg Lego-kit which takes 16 hours to build) when they got married, which he still hasn’t completed. As for cricket, he once quit his job to watch it in Australia and it’s his dream to watch cricket in every test-playing nation in the world.

The Little Man Coffee Company is about elevating the status of the underdog, Rob explains. Big businesses frustrate him and it annoys him that global corporations can flout the rules. “I’m quite an angry man” he says, “perhaps it’s because I drink so much coffee.”

“I’m quite an angry man. Perhaps it’s because I drink so much coffee!”

He does, however, occasionally engage in some competitor analysis at a local Starbucks under the guise of drinking a far too “heavily roasted” coffee.

Slap them with kindness 

If there’s one thing Rob lives by, it’s being nice to people. During the Christmas period, he encourages customers to buy a present, wrap it and put it under The Little Man’s Christmas tree. These are then collected and given to Cardiff’s children’s services. Thinking globally but acting locally is what makes a difference according to Rob. Things have been going really well for The Little Man since their first birthday and he intends to keep it up. The coffee cart he intends to build in 2016 is another step in that direction, as he wants to donate any profit he gets to charity.


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