Cardiff character: Stephen Barker

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Stephen Barker talks about the development of Coffee Barker and having a nice time.

Stephen Barker, 41, is the co-owner of the independent café, Coffee Barker. The café opened its doors in 2009 as an addition to Barker’s clothing store. Now it has become a separate entity and it will soon be joined by sister store, Barker Tea House.

Judging by Stephen’s appearance he’s just come from the unfinished Barker Tea House. He’s dressed in a blue body warmer, a pair of scruffy white trainers and a pair of cream tracksuit bottoms that are stained from decorating. He has a salt and pepper beard and a Welsh accent that pins his home in the valleys.


Barker Cardiff

The Barker clothing store, Barker Cardiff, has been open since the 1970s. Stephen left school and went straight into working in the shop. He describes the experience as good fun, since there were pretty girls, clothes, loud music and he got into bars for nothing.

Stephen lives in Blackwood with his wife Charlotte, who is the second owner of Coffee Barker. “I met Charlotte back in 1990. She was a customer in the clothing shop, a very pretty young lady. She came in for a job, but we didn’t have any work for her unfortunately. She took on a job next door and the rest is history.”


Coffee Barker

With the opening of St David’s 2, The Barkers found that footfall moved to that part of the city, and away from the arcades. They opened Coffee Barker to add an extra element to the clothing shop to attract customers. After 40 years of being open, the clothing shop will be closing after Christmas so Coffee Barker can expand, but Stephen isn’t sad about the losing the shop.   

“You don’t want to be nostalgic,” he says. “The fact is like anything in life we need to move forward. It’s welcome to the real world, welcome to being self-employed. It’s littered with setbacks and disappointments, but sometimes the most satisfying things come out of the worst things; it’s like anything in life. If it’s all too easy then it’s not life.”

Stephen still works four months in India designing clothes for Barker Cardiff. His job allows him to travel around the world.

“I have a love for having a nice time, and I like dining out, as you can see,” Stephen says, as he taps his belly, “and I like dining out all over the world. I do a lot of work in India, a lot of work in China, and my favourite city’s New York.”

Stephen believes in the philosophy that if you enjoy your work, you’ll never work a day in your life. He describes his work as being natural to him.  


Barker Tea House

Coffee Barker’s new Barker Tea House will be opening in High Street arcade later this month.

 “We saw an opportunity for tea, in that it’s got slightly more of an opportunity to provide an occasion for people,” Stephen says. “It’s more feminine. We’ll still be providing a nice time for people, but with a slightly different flavour.”