Thursday, 31st August, 2017

Business profile - Notes

Over the last five years coffee shops and cafes have developed rapidly, a lucrative market perfectly tailored to the fast paced nature of today’s consumers. The coffee industry is valued at 8.9 billion and within this approximately 2.3 billion cups of coffee are served in the UK each year*. In fact, according to data from IBIS world, revenue in this industry is expected to grow at an annual rate of 5.7% from 2017-18.

It is little wonder then that there are more coffee shops and cafes now than there has ever been, from large chains to smaller independents, the industry is thriving.  According to Local Data Company figures, between 2011 and 2016 the number of town centre bars, pubs and clubs fell by 2000 outlets, however coffee shops and cafes have continued to rise across England, Scotland and Wales. 

According to the ProjectCafe2017 report from Allegra World Coffee Portal, it was found that even though branded coffee shop contributed hugely to the market growth – resulting in the sector reaching an impressive 6,790 outlets in 2016 –  a ‘5th wave’ of coffee shops is set to push this sector even further. 

Referred to as ‘The Business of Coffee’ this movement is set to change the future of the coffee industry.  High quality, boutique coffee shops are set to push the industry further, encompassing previous waves of Traditional, Artisan, Chains and Science.

From the emergence of late night coffee culture (the provision of alcohol in many cafes and coffee shops is now commonplace) to the spending power of the millennial consumer, coffee shops are well placed to overtake rival food service providers.  Over the past 20 years the coffee shop market has emerged as a major player, and encouragingly by 2030 coffee shops are set to outnumber pubs, becoming the new local. 

One such outlet that has experienced success in the coffee industry is Notes, a speciality coffee, food & wine company.  With 9 outlets located throughout London, Notes has experienced resounding success, offering craft coffee using the finest beans and the latest technology, alongside fresh homemade food. 
Truly encompassing Café Culture, the brands coffee, breakfast, lunch and evening menus, utilise local businesses (such as London’s top artisan bakery, Bread Ahead) and seasonal, local food.  Their varied café style menu contains salads and sandwiches as well as a plethora of cheese and meat platters. 

We caught up with Robert Robinson, owner of Notes….

Tell us about your career path. How did you get your start?

I got my first job in coffee while I was living in Paris on a gap year after university. I enjoyed it, so set up a coffee cart in a street market in London after that, and the idea of getting a normal job never really materialised!

How was Notes born?

I met my business partner Fabio while I was serving coffee in the market, then a year or so later we partnered up with Alan and Marion and we started Notes together. That was back in 2010, fast forward and we now have 8 sites and a roastery.

What makes your coffee so good?

Four things!
1. We source the very highest quality beans direct from origin
2. We roast them ourselves, and each crop has a bespoke roast profile to get the fullest flavour from the bean
3. We have excellent coffee equipment in store and finally
4. Our baristas are passionate about coffee and we invest in their training so every cup is the best it can be.

What is your secret to keeping customers coming in?

Consistent, high quality coffee, a warm friendly service, and beautifully designed locations. In the evening we have an interesting and diverse wine and beer list which our customers love coming back for - if you’re into great coffee, chances are you’re keen on high quality booze as well!

What else do you serve? Is there a dish or beverage you recommend?

We serve breakfast, lunch and an evening bar menu to complement our wine list. We have great suppliers who care about their produce as much as we do -  in the morning I’m partial to a flat white and a cinnamon bun from Borough Market’s Bread Ahead Bakery, in the evening a craft beer with a charcuterie & cheese board.

What are some of the challenges of being a business owner?

Financing growth was a challenge, and day to day issues always pop up in hospitality. Staffing can be a challenge, but we have a great team here at Notes.

What is the company’s proudest moment?

We ran a crowdfunding campaign back in 2015, and it was lovely to see so many of our regular customers chip in to help us reach our target. I’m proud of every positive review we get too!

What’s next for Notes?
We’ll continue to grow in London, whilst maintaining our high standards, and look to build our coffee wholesale business.

* UK Coffee Week Survey (2016)