The serotonin based caffeine haunt on Round Church StreetGeorgie Atkinson WITH PERMISSION FOR VARSITY

Pottering along Regent Street, I bumped into a Varsity colleague and mentioned that I was just going to interview the Bould brothers. ‘Oh I didn’t realise they were actually brothers?’, my colleague remarked. It is this intriguing status that Alex and Max Bould have established within Cambridge since 2017.

After spending time in the ‘rat race’ of London, the brothers, although never having actually visited Cambridge previously, seized the opportunity to open their first branch on Round Church Street. The rest is Cambridge coffee brewing history.

As a person who subtly tries but fails to Shazam songs when in one of their shops, I thought the brothers would be an ideal pair to sit down with to ask about their musical taste and inspiration.

Naturally, before speaking to the brothers and waiting for a much-needed black Americano, I Shazamed the song playing and was happily informed that John Splithoff was serenading me with ‘Sing to You’, rather ironically.

When asked for one of their earliest musical memories, Max noted that their mother dancing to 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go', by Wham! would have to be a distinct one. Dancing in the kitchen that years later would become the place where the plans for their brand were drawn up. Max also expressed an interest in the Irish pop rock and family-centric band, The Corrs — an interesting familial theme given who he would eventually go into business with.

Naturally, with two brothers, you might expect their musical taste to differ ever so slightly. However, the brothers demonstrated an eclectic yet harmonious taste, which perhaps speaks to the fact that they are just 13 months and 4 days apart in age.

“Max then noting with starry eyed nostalgia, his passion for Simply Red and Mick Hucknell’s voice”

Notably, and perhaps the most surprising aspect of their musical past was their time as undergraduates at the University of Leeds. Max aptly graduated with a degree in Biological Sciences, helpful when trying to wade through coffee pseudo-science.

Alex noted how he had DJed, which eventually escalated into hosting events in the basement of his student house. So much so that a Red Bull representative heard about these parties (dare I even call them a precursor to The Warehouse Project) and offered to sponsor the last party the brothers hosted. Perhaps an early sign of the brothers’ entrepreneurial spirit and nature.

Kirk Franklin: Tiny Desk (Home) ConcertYouTube / NPR Music

Early adopters of Tom Misch and The 1975, both Max and Alex demonstrated an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of Misch’s discography. So much so that one of the main playlists played in the shops is called ‘Tom’. Although, Max did remark that having heard Misch being played in Boots and John Lewis on the same day, it was perhaps time to move their go-to playlist in a different direction.

When asked which track they would pick if, for some reason, they got stuck on a punt and could only take one track with them, some tongue-in-cheek sibling rivalry appeared. Max noted that, if he were stuck on a punt, he would want to draw a crowd with the track, ‘Right Back Home to You’ by Chromeo, whilst Alex seemed to pick a track more for personal listening, choosing The 1975’s ‘Oh Caroline’.


Mountain View

The 1975 at the Brighton Centre

Despite Max then noting with starry eyed nostalgia, his passion for Simply Red and Mick Hucknell’s voice. Both Max and Alex highlighted that they also seek inspiration from performances such as Kirk Franklin’s Tiny Desk concert as well as the smooth and uplifting tones of FKJ.

There is perhaps a shared and much needed boost of serotonin amongst Cambridge students when one of the baristas in Bould Brothers remembers your name. Chatting to the brothers, it is clear to see that this serotonin and uplift doesn’t just come from the caffeine but is also imbued in the brothers’ musical taste.