Vegan cafe with its own on-site soya dairy opens in Norwich

Read Time:   |  27th October 2016

A new vegan cafe, Tofurei, with a unique on-site soya dairy has opened in the Norwich Lanes, and will be offering a range of vegan produce, all made in-house.

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Credit: Ali Hewson

Norwich look out! There’s a brand new vegan cafe in town, complete with a very unique on-site soya dairy, which is serving up a range of vegan produce, all of which is made in-house.

Owners Steve Lepper and Jenny McCann were inspired to open the cafe after they spent some time experimenting at home with making their own soya based products. Steve said the inspiration to have their own on-site dairy came from micro-breweries and roasters. Mr Lepper said: “People were doing craft tofu and milks, but not as a micro-dairy.”

The cafe will be making their own soya milk on site, which will be available to purchase in 500ml or 1 litre bottles. And environmentally conscious customers will be able to pay a deposit for a re-usable bottle that they can bring back and swap for a freshly sealed one when they next buy the milk too. The Chinese soya beans they use in the dairy are both non-GMO and organic, and will also be available to buy either hulled or whole bean in the cafe. Steve and Jenny have also been working with local suppliers in Suffolk and Cambridge in growing a UK-based supply of beans to make their produce more environmentally friendly.

Credit: Ali Hewson

Credit: Ali Hewson

The shop will be the first of its kind not only in Norwich, but also in the UK. Mr Lepper said: “We think we’re very complimentary to what the lanes have to offer,” adding that they were also working with local businesses – serving coffee from The Little Red Roaster, and using fresh produce from the market, and wholesale goods from Rainbow Whole Foods.

Steve also added that: “An advantage of producing the milk on a micro-scale is that it gives us an opportunity to work with other people.”

This is already being put into practice, and they are currently working with Darren Groom from The Little Red Roaster in developing ‘barista style’ soya milk to use in the shop.

The focus is on offering plant-based foods, but it’s not just for vegans. Mr Lepper said: “We want to show that our products are tasty and home cooked too. We think it’s good food that just happens to be vegan. We want to apply classic craftsmanship to our products and showcase that they can have a wider appeal.”

Jenny McCann’s background is in working with animals, most recently at Wing and a Prayer Wild Bird and Owl Haven, and she says this is partly what led her to becoming a vegan.

Miss McCann said: “For me it’s about aligning my morals with my actions, and food is a big part of that. I think everyone has a responsibility to tread lightly where practically possible, and find the right balance for your lifestyle.” It’s this ethos that is carrying through to the shop.

Miss McCann added that for her, one of the hardest things about switching to a vegan diet was missing the comfort of familiar tasting food. The shop will have a ‘butchers style’ deli counter, with plant based substitutes for meat products- including a fresh mince developed and produced on site. She admits: “Before I became vegan I was really skeptical about the vegan diet- but it ended up sparking my passion for food.”

Credit: Ali Hewson

Credit: Ali Hewson

In the new year the shop will be hosting workshops on how to make soya milk and tofu in your kitchen at home, and there are plans for cookery classes to explore ways to use the produce.

What to look out for at Tofurei

Apple and Caramel Cake – Miss McCann explains, “You can’t often find vegan caramel- this will definitely be a permanent fixture in the cake selection.”

Solkiki White Hot Chocolate – A rare chance to enjoy a vegan version, this is from a cold pressed single-bean chocolate made in the UK.

Tyne Chease – Tofurei is the only stockist in East Anglia of this smoked, cultured and matured cheese made from cashews. It looks similar to Camembert; and served individually wrapped in a traditional wooden casing it would sit proudly on any cheese board.

One Planet Pizza – Frozen vegan pizza made by a community owned company in Trowse.

Hand-crocheted Birds – The only non-food product sold in Tofurei, these are made by Dee, who runs Wing and a Prayer. All proceeds go back to the bird sanctuary.

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Tofurei will be open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am-4pm. Please visit their Facebook page to keep up with the latest news from the cafe!

Source: Eastern Daily Press.

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