On the face of it Judges, originally founded in 1826, is simply a traditional bakery in a seaside town.
But looks can be deceptive. This independent store is, in fact, run by the founding duo of Green & Black's chocolate and the head baker, Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, is a former patisserie chef at the Savoy.
Everything the shop sells, from artisan breads to pink meringue pigs, is certified as organic by the Soil Association and as much produce as possible is locally sourced.
Hand-made bread is at the heart of the business and the store offers a wide range of white, wholemeal and malthouse English breads, as well as artisan breads, including Parisienne baguettes rolled overnight in French linen, seeded loaves and Judges' bestseller - rye bread.
Husband-and-wife owners Jo Fairley and Craig Sams already had a second home in Hastings when they decided to move there from London in 2002. After struggling to find decent, locally sourced organic food, they decided to offer their own and in March 2005 they took over Judges. Less than a year later it won Best New Store in the Natural Products Awards. This year Judges scooped the Soil Association's Best Organic Small Shop Award .
For the couple behind the UK's first organic chocolate brand, it is not surprising that organic and ethical food is at the heart of their business ethos. Judges sources 75% of its stock from the surrounding area, including eggs, cheese and wine.
"We believe food should be organic and as local as possible," says Fairley. "We don't bash our customers around the head with our ideals, but we do like to talk about it if they ask. We don't make a big play of the fact that all our food is organic and seasonal, because we think that is the way it should be."
The smoked haddock in its Roc-a-nore 'sausage-style' rolls, caught just out to sea at Hastings and smoked 15 yards away from the shop, was the first product to be awarded joint Soil Association and Marine Stewardship Council certification, she says.
"In season, the apples for the tarts, pastries and pies comes from the family's own back garden, which is organically certified," she adds.
Even the bakery's pink meringue pigs are organic and additive-free, as synthetic food colourings have been replaced with beetroot.
The couple have long championed organic food. Craig Sams founded Britain's first organic bakery in 1972, while Fairley has written regular articles for The Times on organic living. The store has positioned itself as a one-stop shop, selling an entirely organic range of everything from food to nappies - all of which are ethically and organically sourced.
The couple say they are planning to build their venture with the development of a franchise format and are already in discussions with a number of interested parties.They are also looking into the possibility of putting some of its bestsellers, such as the artisan breads, into retail outlets - although these plans are still at the initial stages, says Fairley.
"We test everything ourselves, so our customers know everything we sell has been pre-approved," says Fairley. Their bestseller is the chocolate brownie - made, unsuprisingly, with Green & Black's chocolate.n