Maria Harper: After all the years getting Harpers Coffee House to where it is now, I like to support small locally-run businesses, when I go out
What time do you get up?
I get up at 7:15am on a weekday to get the kids ready for school but on Saturdays I am up either 5am or 6am depending on if I am the one opening Harper’s Coffee House in the Milk Market. Our other big days in the Milk Market are Fridays and Sundays - so on Sundays, I’m up at 8am.
What is your normal breakfast?
Even though coffee is my livelihood and I’ve all blends and varieties available, I like a cup of good old Barry’s tea on school mornings. On work days, I like a double espresso with something delicious from one of the Milk Market food stalls
Do you go for a walk or to the gym before/after the office?
I’m afraid not. With children and running Harper’s Coffee House, there’s always too much to do. I used to run a lot and my plan is to start running again. I find running very therapeutic. Even though I don’t do a lot of exercise these days, I am never sitting down. I suffer with an autoimmune condition so that determines my energy levels and how much I can do. I like to do meditation as much as I can. I find that a massive benefit.
How many cups of coffee/tea would you drink a day?
As many as my brain and body require - average 4-5.
What is normal lunch - do you have a favourite place?
I’m a qualified chef by trade, so I cook quite a lot at home. However, most Saturdays, after a busy day at the Milk Market, our family treat is usually a takeaway from our local Indian and Thai restaurant “Copper and Spice” in Annacotty, which always tastes beautiful. After all the years getting Harpers Coffee House to where it is now, I like to support small locally-run businesses, when I go out. I appreciate the effort they put in, especially competing against bigger chains and brands. Also I do enjoy trying coffees and teas in other coffee shops to see if Harper’s is still the best!
Do you have many meetings during the day?
It varies from week to week. I have regular meetings with Eoin Shinners, the principal of Limerick Educate Together Secondary School. I am proud to say that I am the Chair of the Board of Management there. And as it is a start up school it requires a lot of the board’s time. I’ll have meetings with Harper’s Coffee House suppliers and reps to make sure we are on top of our game with quality products always. I’m also involved in local community groups which again require meetings.
What time do you finish up at?
As anyone who runs their own business will tell you - work doesn’t finish when you close your doors.
There is always something to do. My brain is always on. But that’s just the price of doing something you care about. it’s important to be passionate about what you do.
Do you watch much television?
Yes I do watch television and I have to say I tune into Netflix.
Do you read the newspapers?
I like to read the newspapers both online and in print but mainly online. I feel it is vital to keep up with local and national and international news
What do you do to relax?
I like to spend time with my husband, Mason, daughters, Charley and Chloe, and family and friends. And also meditation.
Are you able to leave the office behind?
Not always - but it’s better to care about what you do than feel that your job is just work. I’m learning to switch off, especially with meditation. But there’s no harm in having the brain bubbling away, alert to new ideas for the business.
What is a perfect work day?
When my customers and staff are smiling. I am very lucky with my staff. Harpers would not be the same without them. They are all gems.
We have such an amount of regular customers too and it is always nice to hear their stories of the week gone by. Some regular customers have become good friends over the years too.
Do you ever ‘lose the cool’ and if so what would make you annoyed?
Oh I do, but I like to keep it under control and to myself.
People being rude annoys me. I’m speaking of everywhere in life. Manners are free, and a smile doesn’t cost anything either.