This week, we return to Manchester with our second installment of “The Business of Brewing”, featuring Timothy Bosworth (Hoxton North), Peter Gibson (Grindsmiths), and Alison Bell (BLK Coffee Heaton), each of whom have had very different experiences opening their own shops. From setting up pre-trend outside of London (Tim) to opening doors at the height of the trend (Alison) and from semi-permanent premises to brick-and-mortar shops (Pete), these three guests showcase vast differences in approach to build a specialty coffee business in the UK. Together, they consider how their initial business plan and model has changed since they first opened their doors, why just saying “yes” and figuring out “how” afterwards can lead to bigger and better things, the invaluable contribution of family and community support, how to roll with disappointments, the importance of letting some things go, and why “customer service” needs to be replaced with “customer engagement” if we want to maintain successful businesses.
Timothy Bosworth is the co-founder / Director of Hoxton North a London-inspired group of coffeeshops & bars, in Harrogate. He has a background in Psychology and an interest in Human Behaviour, Digital Technology, hospitality & Education. He has been featured as an ambassador on MTV as part of the “A Grand Idea” which was a national campaign to engage young people (14 – 25) in setting up their own enterprise. As well as this, he has been featured on the startups.co.uk, BBC Good Food, LUX magazine, Root & Bone and many more.
Pete graduated university with a degree in Environmental Science and a desire to work with people in an outdoor setting. Gaining qualifications in the outdoor industry Pete started an outdoor company working with young people and corporate groups on team development courses in 2010. During this time Pete also worked as an expedition leader and led trips across Africa, South America and Asia gaining experience in jungle survival and high altitude mountain leadership.
Grindsmith was an opportunity to run a business that survived the colder climates on the UK as Pete’s other work only provided a livelihood during the warmer months.
The speed of Grindsmith’s growth quickly saw it become full time and Pete leading the operational delivery for the company. Pete is working towards bringing both passions together and start to travel overseas to work directly with coffee farms not only to source great coffee but invest back in education and social programs at source.
For Alison, the transition from barista to coffee shop owner came about pretty quickly – perhaps even unexpectedly! – but she supposes she always longed to do something of her own. Although she only began working in coffee three and a half years ago, Alison now runs BLK Coffee in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which has been open for about fifteen months. She’s still learning every day, but she’s really proud to be one of a handful of people working to put Newcastle on the map for speciality coffee – placing second in the UK Brewers Cup earlier this year was a real highlight.