Reflecting on 2021

A look back at the last year… 


Any recap of 2021 would be remiss to mention the fallout experienced by businesses due to the ongoing pandemic. January is already a bleak time of year for many businesses. With Christmas out of the way and New Year resolutions to spend less, eat less and exercise more, this reality is normally compounded with short daylight hours and gloomy weather to create what are typically the 2 quietest and hardest months of the year for the hospitality industry. 


So at this point last year, we were faced with all this as well as the reality of lockdown. Our experience of running the two coffee shops was vastly different; on the one hand, the city centre, being a non-residential area, was like a ghost-town. The moment the shops and businesses closed, the streets were deserted and we had no option but to close. Takeaways in the city centre weren’t an option for us as there was no passing trade to support it and deliveries were never activities we’d been known for. Nevertheless, we tried the usual suspects, UberEats and Deliveroo, but these leech marketplaces take 40% of all revenue and compete with you, making it nigh-on impossible to create a sustainable business model. Our city centre site has been the area that has really suffered most as a result of the pandemic.  


In contrast to this, however, the people of Beeston showed us that their appetite for takeaway coffee was still there. With half the nation furloughed or working from home, Beeston, as a commuter hub and market town only grew busier during the lockdowns. Our large outdoor seating area had been recently remodelled to include 12 overhead infrared heaters to provide constant warmth, making it a very attractive solution for those wanting to continue to enjoy sitting outside.  


On the production side, the roastery (our sourcing, roasting and distribution) has been the dark horse of the pandemic. Thanks to your support, the roastery showed the most resilience to the various stresses and strains placed on it by rising costs and high-street rents. It also hasn’t been subject to a fall in demand in the same way that hospitality has. Our hope is that we will continue to sell coffee online, sourcing and roasting more delicious coffees from our producer partners.  


Despite many of the difficulties, there have been many successes this year too. We’ve roasted an average of one new coffee every week, sourced from dozens of new regions and origins we’ve never bought coffee from before. We went through a rebranding, re-opened the café in Beeston as Cartwheel, we have launched new recyclable packaging and a new website, we’ve launched new food menus, started a newsletter and we employ 25 staff which is more than we did at the beginning of the year. We’re incredibly grateful to our new and existing customers for keeping us in business over the last year. We still love what we do and we’re just as excited as ever to share that passion with you. None of this would be possible without you, thank you!  


So in summary, we still have hope for the new year, despite being faced, yet again with the prospect of more restrictions on our lives. Our hope is that Cartwheel will be here, bigger, better and stronger resting on our laurels of high quality, passionate and sustainable coffee. 


To 2022, we say, ‘bring It on!’