TWO new coffee shops are the icing on the cake for residents wanting something quirky.

Following the opening of Costa off Halstead High Street in February 2015, there were fears the town’s independent coffee shops would lose out.

However, two new businesses in Bridge Street plan to make a stand in the face of chain stores.

Karen Slack and her business partner Kevin Gooday, are refurbishing the former Dough’s Bakery in Halstead’s town centre.

It will become a coffee shop with an industrial feel, which they are calling Coffee Kavern, and they are hoping to open up at the end of the month. Karen, from Braintree, said: “We have both worked in coffee shops before, but we wanted to do it on our own.

“We have done our research and we feel we offer something completely different to Costa.

“We want to be a fresh face in the community and we are excited to be working independently.

“I’d like to think we can build relationships with our customers, rather than just be a place where people buy a coffee and leave.

“For some older people in the town especially, it may be the only form of contact they get.”

Kevin said he wanted to create a friendly atmosphere.

He said: “It’s really nice to be able to interact with customers as I am a people person.

“We want to see a mixed crowd and we want everyone to feel com- fortable.”

Keen baker Michelle Heighes said her new tearoom down the road in Bridge Street is a huge success.

She has worked in catering her whole life, but it has always been a dream to open up a tea room.

After years of teaching baking to children and making wedding cakes she took the plunge and opened up Hyacinth Tearoom last month.

Michelle, who travels an hour from Rayleigh to open up, said she felt at home already.

She said: “I knew as soon as I walked in I loved the feel of the place.

“The next challenge was what to call it — we decided on Hyacinth after my mum and because the town is known for Halstead in Bloom.

“Everything is homemade and there is a vintage feel, there has been amazing feedback so far.”

She said involvement with the wider community is key and she plans to host baby showers and parties in the future.

She took on the former staff of Prego cafe when she bought the business in February.

After a total revamp, she said she is pleased with the end result.