A weekly spotlight on the fabulous Nottingham Independents who make our city unique.
Introducing Cartwheel Coffee
This week we speak with Cartwheel Coffee Owner Alex Bitsios-Esposito. Found on Low Pavement, opposite Marks & Spencer, this specialty coffee roaster, and gourmet café is open 7 days a week for your caffeine fix and /or a gorgeous brunch or light lunch. They cater for everyone, plant- based and dairy or gluten free options are a plenty. Their warm cacao and cinnamon sourdough French toast with honey and thyme mascarpone, white chocolate, and crushed hazelnuts sounds like the most extravagant (and wonderful) way to start the day. The entrance way even states “But first, coffee.” Which is exactly how we feel every day.
Self-confessed plumber, accountant, quality controller and cleaner, Alex is usually found behind the scenes orchestrating a new project. We caught up with him in between projects which includes a Cartwheel Coffee pop- up store at John Lewis Nottingham.
Hi Alex, can you tell us about your background?
Born in Greece, to Italian & Greek parents, I moved to the UK when I was 3. My mother started a coffee shop, due to the lack of good coffee in the UK at the time. I worked there from the age of 8, first cleaning dishes and taking orders and then later serving food and making drinks as a teenager. I moved to Canada for a period where I studied but returned to the UK shortly after. I managed the coffee shop, finding my passion for coffee as a subject and product beyond a drink to simply be enjoyed. I then moved into a training role, teaching others about coffee and later worked as a coffee roaster. I founded Cartwheel Coffee in my garage when I was 25, with the intention of roasting and selling coffee beans to the people of Notts. We began by supplying a couple of local cafes, and then a few months later, opened the site on Low Pavement in the city centre.
So, how did you come to start the business?
I was inspired to start Cartwheel because of my love and interest for coffee. I have always been interested in flavour and I was amazed at the way different varieties of coffee and different processing techniques in coffee-producing countries could affect the flavour of the coffee in the cup. Likewise, there has always been a proliferation of cheap commodity coffee in the UK which is an industry that keeps most farmers/producers in poverty through low prices and lack of access to markets. This coffee tastes like burnt matches and needs milk and sugar. We wanted to show our part of the world that paying more for your coffee, buying better quality beans from real farmers (that you can see the name of on the bag) as opposed to just ‘Colombian coffee’ (Colombia is a big place!), then this is the first step to creating an equitable supply chain that rewards farmers for their work, rather than the multi-nationals that simply seek to reduce their costs.
Tell us about a great day at work:
I like to see people enjoying themselves – both customers enjoying the hospitality that we provide as well as our great team, who provide that experience! The icing on the cake would be when nothing breaks or goes wrong, and no one has to self-isolate.
What is your favourite service or product that you offer and why is it your favourite?
We offer a coffee subscription which means you can receive as little as 2 bags of coffee in a taster pack. Last year, we sourced 50 individual coffees, which means that you could try coffee from all round the world and not have the same coffee twice. It’s a great chance to get to understand the coffee flavour spectrum. I’m also partial to the pour-overs and smashed avocado & poached eggs on sourdough we make in the cafes.
Finally, where’s next on your list of places to visit in Nottingham?
Next on my list is Kushi-ya – though I do love Iberico World Tapas.
If you like Iberico World Tapas, we recommend Bar Iberico in Hockley for lunch, to catch the Menu Rapido special offer. Then make your way across the city to Kushi-ya for dinner, followed by a cocktail at their sister venue Yokocho. Best of both worlds and more! Thanks for your time today Alex.
It's In Nottingham have teamed up with John Lewis & Partners and The Great British Exchange to provide eight Independent Nottingham businesses the chance to ‘pop-up’ in the John Lewis Nottingham store throughout the summer.
Cartwheel Coffee will be in store 2-8 August. Here, you will find a trained Barista; the perfect opportunity to learn more about creating the perfect cup of coffee and the beans that make it so great. For more details on the event please visit https://www.itsinnottingham.com/features/the-great-british-exchange/