As people get more discerning about the quality of their choice, there’s a whole market opening up for specialty coffee shops. Nottingham based, 200 Degrees, has desires to be on the front foot for this revolution. As part of their expansion plans, they’ve just opened a coffee house on Market Street in Leicester, in the space previously occupied by Lumbers, the jewellers. It seemed like the right time for Great Central to have a chat with them (over a damn fine cup of coffee).
“It’s our view that Market Street is going to have a very different vibe in five years time or so”, states Matt Shelton, marketing director for 200 Degrees. “We plan to be here for the long run and the location and size of this building fits exactly with what we were looking for.”
First impressions are that they’re already doing quite well. The shop, larger than your average coffee space, is full with healthy bustle and convivial chatter. Be it your remote worker taking advantage of their generous supply of plug sockets and wifi or a casual shopper taking a break from their pursuits, there’s a varied mix here. This is something that 200 Degrees aspires toward. “We want the quality of the coffee to be the consistent thing. And we want our customers to feel comfortable when they come here”, reflects Shelton. That’s certainly the buzz I get. It’s friendly and affable with staff who clearly know their stuff.
The coffee remains consistent but the food menu doesn’t. It changes every Wednesday. Sandwiches with fine fillings on delicious looking breads, exotic salads and a range of muffins and cakes would appear to be the order of the day. It’s all freshly made on site in the kitchen that’s upstairs in the building.
We take a look at the space upstairs at the front of the shop that’s still to be renovated. Apparently, this is where bling-laden footballer’s wives once came to get their diamonds and we can still see the remnants of that in the furnishings. Ultimately, 200 degrees are keen to use this closed-off space for the benefit of the community. Whether it’s pop-up shops from new fashion designers, spoken word events or something entirely different, they’ve got no fixed plans. “We’re really keen that people come to us and suggest their ideas, just like we’ve done in our other spaces”, says Shelton in a direct call-out to creative types.
With shops in Nottingham, Leeds, Cardiff and Birmingham, I ask why Leicester? “Our head roaster, Mike, is from Leicester and it felt like an obvious choice”, clarifies Shelton. 200 degrees have impressive roll-out plans with the ambition to have ten stores by the end of this year. It’s all the more laudable when we learn that there’s no venture capital behind this, just a couple of keen coffee connoisseurs from Nottingham keen to bring great coffee to the crowds. For the real enthusiasts among us, there’s options to enrol in a Barista School course in Nottingham. Additionally, there’s a wholesale arm of the business which is all about getting 200 degrees beans into other shops and institutions.
Who can predict? Maybe, in years to come our streets won’t be awash with the coffee chains but with interesting independent versions. The brave team at 200 degrees are certainly hoping that fortune favours them. All of the early signs are good.