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Edinburgh cafe The Counter set for national fame

After the successful opening of their first police box coffee shop in August 2014, the entrepreneurial couple behind The Counter coffee shop chain, have won their very own television advert to grow their fledgling business

Published: November 5, 2015

It’s the simplest ideas that often work the best, and Ali and Sally McFarlane saw a purpose for Edinburgh’s disused police boxes at the end of summer last year.

Opening their first coffee shop in Morningside, The Counter has since expanded to three previously-derelict police boxes scattered throughout the capital city. Serving homemade cakes by Ali and coffee from local roasters, the life and business partners will see their business advertised on primetime television across the country.

In October 2015, the couple entered the “15 Seconds of Fame” competition hosted by mobile payments company iZettle.

As the title suggests, their short video was one of seven competition winners. As one of the winning entries, the couple will see their advert broadcast across the country for one week in November on channels such as Sky News, Sky Sports, Comedy Central and more.

The Counter has proved to be a popular addition to Edinburgh's street food scene with its homemade cakes and bespoke brews. Photo: Ali McFarlane

The Counter has proved to be a popular addition to Edinburgh's street food scene with its homemade cakes and bespoke brews. Picture: Ali McFarlane

Speaking on their success, Ali said: “The past 15 months has been a whirlwind for us but winning this competition and having our independent coffee business broadcast on primetime television really is the icing on the cake”

“We have had a few people come and say they saw the advert last night. It’s such an honour to win.”

Speaking about the driving force behind their enterprise, Ali said: “We had both worked in hospitality for years but really wanted to work together. We started looking for sites and came across an old battered police box for sale and we kind-of fell in love with it.

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“We have some really great regulars and each box has its own little community. We also get to work really closely with our suppliers like Mr Eion, our coffee roaster. He works not far from where we live and it’s been great to use his vast knowledge of all things coffee.

“We have a converted canal barge opening in late spring - other than that we just want to keep serving great coffee and continue to improve what we do already.”

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