Last month we announced that as of 1st September we will be subscription only. Well it is now nearly the end of September and…we’re still open for one-off orders!
We were completely blown away by the support and feedback we’ve had since making that announcement and have thought long and hard about whether or not we’re doing the right thing. This small business thing is hard sometimes! Eventually we decided that we would stay open for one-off orders after all, but we still need to make some changes if we are to continue. Our initial difficulty with buying in additional stock beyond coffee club still stands we we’re going to continue limiting the stock that we hold. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll be buying in additional stock of any particular coffee once it’s sold out as the amount that we need to order in is far more than we can realistically sell before the coffee starts to lose its freshness and we don’t want to send anybody stale coffee.
We also need to limit our roasting to one day a week as this allows us to operate more efficiently – it takes a lot of energy to heat up a coffee roaster but once it’s at the right temperature it requires less frequent bursts of extra heat to maintain optimum temperature, so it’s best to do more batches back to back rather that heat up the roaster more often for smaller batches. When we were using our smaller roaster it was much easier to roast smaller batches more regularly but now we need to combine roasts more effectively.
We will be roasting on Wednesday afternoons, posting on Thursdays, and doing our local deliveries on Fridays. This means you’ll need to order before midday on a Wednesday to make that week’s roasting schedule.
We hope this strikes the right balance of continuing to give you coffee in a way that suits you while still making the changes we need to continue running our business sustainably.
After much discussion of the future of The Roasting House we have decided to focus solely on our Coffee Club subscription. Coffee Club members will still be able to purchase additional coffee but we will no longer offer one-off purchases to non-members.
Coffee Club is by far the most popular thing that we do and represents the vast majority of our sales so by focusing solely on it, we will be able to run more efficiently. Our profit margins are very small and purchasing and storing extra stock for one-off sales is just not cost-effective.
This is going to involve some changes to Coffee Club. Currently we offer 15% off our standard listing price for coffees to Coffee Club members but as we will no longer have a standard listing price, we’ll replace this offer with a flat price for additional coffees.
We will also only be offering delivery during the Coffee Club period so any additional coffees will be sent with your next club delivery.
We are really sorry to those who purchase individual bags of coffee from us but who are not in the Coffee Club. We are extremely grateful for your custom and support, and many of you are repeat customers. However we have been over-stretching ourselves financially and physically for a while now so we feel that is an essential step if we are to continue.
If you have any questions or feedback, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
From the biggest of the beans to the smallest, this week our coffee comes from Brazil, land of small, soft coffee beans. Although Brazil has high altitude growing regions, they’re not quite as high as other coffee producing countries and so coffee from Brazil grows faster, producing smaller beans which aren’t as dense. This means they need a longer, slower roast otherwise they can burn quickly. They also need a good rest after roasting as they have a tendency to hold on to a lot of smokiness and feel a bit fizzy from CO2 for a couple of days after roasting. You’ll find the taste significantly different the longer you leave it. 4 days after roasting gives a good sweet chocolate flavour, and after 10 days they’ve really settled down for a much smoother taste.
Much of the coffee in Brazil comes from mega farms and is grown for the commodity market, with very few reaching speciality grade, which is a SCA (Speciality Coffee Association) grade of 84 and above. But there are some small scale farmers who are ensuring Brazil gets some representation in the speciality coffee world, Olney Barreira Junior, the owner of Fazenda Santa Barbara being one of them. Olney Barreira Junior acquired the farm in 2012 and has since replanted the farm with new varietals such as the rare Acaia which is the type we have sent you. He has also upgraded the farm’s equipment and improved processing facilities to improve the quality of coffee that the farm is able to produce. His efforts have been rewarded with high grading coffees, this one being an 84, and we expect to see this rating go up as the farm continues to improve.
Fazenda Santa Barbara is located in the Campo de Vetentes region in the Mantiquira Fields mountainous region which provide the high altitude, cool temperatures, and rainfall which are essential to growing good coffee. The coffee is shade grown and, as is required by Brazilian law, 20% is dedicated as natural reserve where native plants are able to flourish and no coffee planting is allowed.
Up until now we’ve used 200g for the practical reason of it fitting Royal Mail large letter size. However we recently switched to using more rigid cardboard mailers instead of brown paper for posting our coffee. These mailers offer much better protection for the coffee but they pushed us in to the next postal bracket.
We held off passing on to this cost on to customers until we were sure we were going to stick with the mailers. They cost £1.71 to send but we were charging you £1.27. As we’re really small it is hard for us to absorb this cost. Eventually we have decided that we really like the added protection and so we will continue using the mailers but the time has come to charge the right cost for postage.
However this isn’t all bad news – the more rigid mailers mean that we can send a 250g bag for the same price as a 200g bag now. Previously the 250g pushed us in to the higher postage bracket so we stuck to 200g but now we’re in that bracket anyway, we thought we could at least make up for the increased cost of postage by giving you more coffee! So for 44p extra in postage you are getting 50g extra coffee.
Of course if you live in Nottingham the postage is exactly the same – completely free! And our free postage for orders over £15 remains.
Brrr, it’s getting cold out! The Met Office is forecasting a particularly cold winter with plenty of snow. How will this affect your coffee deliveries?
We do deliver throughout winter, however if the weather is particularly bad we will most likely post coffee instead at no extra charge. If we have deliveries scheduled for a particular day but the weather makes it too dangerous to deliver we will contact you to let you know and re-arrange delivery.
Typically we’ll make a call on the day of delivery itself as, especially in the case of snow, weather can change quickly, or sometimes turn out not to be as bad as forecasted. In the case of Coffee Club we will make a call by the Thursday before the scheduled delivery day to give us time to get them in the post in time if we need to.
During winter we might sometimes use a vehicle for deliveries if we have a lot of them and it makes better financial sense than posting them. However we will keep this to a minimum.
However we’ll mostly be cycling as usual throughout winter enjoying the frost glazed scenery as long as the conditions aren’t dangerous and when we do need to make changes we’ll let you know as soon as possible if it affects your order.
Back in September we were invited to talk to Mark Dennison at BBC Radio Nottingham about why we use bikes in our business. The email inviting us to speak on the show included the line “businesses that still use bicycles” which made us laugh at the idea that using bikes as a delivery vehicle is a funny little quirk from the past. Although despite enjoying a giggle at that one line it was actually a really great chat about why we use bikes, what we like (freedom) and dislike (bad infrastructure), and whether we’ll continue to use bikes as we grow. I thought it was about time I got some of our thoughts on all of this down in writing on our website.
For us, using bicycles for deliveries is very much the future, and we’re not alone in thinking this. Even supermarket behemoth Sainsbury’s is trialing bicycle deliveries while Deliveroo are popping up in more and more cities following huge funding rounds to expand their restaurant bicycle delivery service.
In many European cities, cargo bikes do many of the inner city deliveries that we in the UK still use vans for. We believe it is the van model that is outdated as more and more people order goods online while space does not expand and city traffic is grinding to a halt. By using bicycles we rarely get stuck in traffic and can take many off-road scenic routes that those delivering in motor vehicles cannot.
We also have a commitment to keeping our environmental footprint to a minumum, something that delivering on bikes helps us to achieve. Last year we kept 1 tonne of CO2 out of the air by delivering by bike instead of in a small petrol vehicle. And of course using bikes is great for well-being. Before starting this business I was a desk-bound tech worker battling anxiety. Being out on the bike in the fresh air and getting regular exercise is the best medicine I could ever take.
We will continue to use bikes for deliveries. If we grow to the level where our own two sets of legs are no longer enough then our plan is to add more people on bikes to the team rather than a van. Of course on occasion we do use a vehicle, usually in bad weather or at times of illness. However we keep these to a minimum, and almost always end up staring out of the window watching a cyclist cruising by us as we sit in traffic regretting our choice.
For urban and suburban businesses with deliveries to make, we truly believe that bikes are the future. If you have a small business and would like to talk to us for advice or sharing resources, feel free to get in touch via email@example.com
Thanks to Mark Dennison for having us on the show.
We’re delighted to announce that we are through to the final round of the Nottingham Post Environmental Business of the Year Awards. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Nottingham on Thursday 20th October.
Regardless of the outcome we’re really excited just to be through to the final round. We work incredibly hard to try to reduce our environmental impact as much as possible through making deliveries by bike, using paper packaging which can be recycled, sourcing our coffees carefully, and having a zero waste to landfill policy.
You can read an article about our entry to the awards on the Nottingham Post website.
Wish us luck!
We have decided to take a short holiday before we get in to the busy C-word-which-is-too-soon-to-say season and spend a few days relaxing on a beach. Therefore any orders placed between Friday 16th and Sunday 25th September will not be fulfilled until the week beginning Monday 26th. This doesn’t affect Coffee Club which will be delivered and posted on schedule as usual (unless we decide to do a runner and live on the beach for ever).
To help you cope with this lull in coffee delivery there will be a 20% discount on all coffees ordered during this period with voucher code RoastingHouseHoliday2016.
This year some businesses are forgoing the imported horror show that is Black Friday and instead taking part in Do Good Friday by donating money to charity.
We love this idea and so we’ll be donating 10% of all sales made between Friday 27th November and Monday 30th November to the Emmanuel House Give a Cup of Kindness campaign.
Emmanuel House is a fantastic organisation based in our home town of Nottingham which provides shelter and support to homeless people, a service which has increased demand and importance over the cold winter period.
Head over to our online shop to buy freshly roasted coffee and support this great campaign.
Image of cup of coffee in snow by Kalexanderson CC-BY-2.0
For deliveries in the Nottingham delivery area (please see Nottingham delivery area map for details):
- Last delivery date will be Weds 23rd in Nottingham, last orders midday on Tuesday 22nd.
- Delivering again between Dec 28th – 30th, no deliveries on Dec 31st or Jan 1st, then back to normal from 2nd January.
For deliveries elsewhere in the UK:
- Last post is 21st December. All orders need to be made by midday on 20th December to be included in this.
- Postal orders will commence again from Monday 4th January with the exception of Coffee Club deliveries which will be posted out on Tuesday 29th December.
To let us know that your order is intended as a Christmas gift, please let us know in the notes field at checkout. There is a checkbox to enter a different delivery address.