The Faithful Fundamentals of Lost and Found

By Ross McCrea

As much as the coffee culture in Northern Ireland is a business, allowing brewers and baristas to make a living, the social side of coffee, as well as the location of specific independent coffee shops plays a huge role in the culture.

Take, for example, the north coast, an area of outstanding natural beauty, with numerous beauty spots and outlooks, attracting thousands of visitors each year, with over 1 million overnight stays in 2019. Both Portstewart and Portrush also boast an impressive number of coffee shops, such as Ground Coffee, Culture Coffee and Bob and Berts. And when the average price of a cup coffee is around £3, it is not hard for each of these businesses to make a profit and continue expanding. Porstewart and Portrush are closely located to the Ulster University Coleraine campus, meaning students are a large factor in contributing to the coffee culture.

Among the selection of popular chain coffee shops in the area, there are a number of independent, speciality coffee shops located along the north coast. One of those is Lost and Found, a speciality coffee shop with a store in Portstewart and Coleraine, owned by Dave Lynas. Dave explained they were married ten years ago in Dublin, he and his wife had always had dream of opening “a café of sorts”, which was inspired by their love and interest of food and hospitality from their time travelling and in Dublin. Dave said that he really wanted to make his dream a reality in a place like the north coast. He said “With the greatest of respect, the north coast was not the coolest place in the world at the time… I’d come from this sprawling Dublin coffee culture, and it felt quite different and like a challenge at the time.”

The Lost and Found store located on Berne Road, Portstewart

Eventually, Dave opened the Lost and Found store in Queen Street, Coleraine in 2014, noting that it had taken a hole year of conversations about “how do we actually do this?” as their dream became more of a reality. Dave noted that at the time, the only other kind of speciality coffee shop in the country was a place in Belfast that had just started as well, joking that friends at the time told him and his wife “in the nicest way possible that we were completely mad! But I think we just hit the ground running at the right kind of time.”

Dave also spoke about how his Christian faith influences the business, “It’s a massive thing… we felt that God had called us to make an impact on the culture… it gives it I suppose the ‘secret sauce’ of what makes it what it is.” Any kind of business environment is always going to be a challenge and at times unforgiving to work in, which Dave alluded to, especially the rapidly growing coffee culture. However, Dave believes that having a strong faith and belief has been key to keeping his business going, “I think without having a faith and the challenge of Jesus, I think it would be impossible to do it.” Some people could argue that setting your brand out as a having a Christian ethos could hurt the business, but Dave has always strived to ensure that Lost and Found is not a “cringe Christian coffee shop” and that he was aware that, as a brand, “we had to be good enough that people would think ‘you guys are the best, we love your coffee, we love your food’, and to me, that sign of good workmanship is your worship to God in that sense.”

In terms of his brand, Dave stated that “we wanted Lost and Found to be a great representation of how Christians can be at the forefront of shaping culture… and not in an awkward way that appeals to just Christians.” When talking about potential expansion and taking further advantage of the expanding coffee culture, Dave placed emphasis on “growing more as a brand” and also noted the a slight critique of larger chain coffee shops, “I’ve nothing against a chain, but the struggle I think is that they lose an element of creativity, and also what made them interesting to begin with.” Dave said he wants Lost and Found to safeguard against that, and that he loves the personal aspect of the business, “We’re a business about the people. We know our customers… we’ve grown up with them, even been to their weddings.”

Through the recent years that the coffee culture has expanded, Dave has put lots of thought and care into building Lost and Found as a brand, always keeping the focus on their Christian ethos. While running a business in the competitive coffee industry is challenging, Dave continually strives to provide excellent coffee and hospitality as a professional but personal service.