Full Court Press Coffee is a firm Studio Cotton favourite – pretty much all of us visit this specialist coffee shop and roasters on the way into our central Bristol office for a caffeine fix, often alongside a sweet treat (our favourites are the cinnamon bun and the berry bar, both baked up by Bristol pastry experts Harts Bakery).
Aside from the delectable coffees and cakes, there is always a warm welcome from the small but dedicated Full Court Press Coffee team, which I think is always important, but especially so during that pre-coffee morning lull, or the dreaded early afternoon energy slump. You’re guaranteed a friendly face – a top priority in a neighbourhood coffee shop.
The friendly faces are accompanied by an interesting conversation, whether it be about our personal life or the twists and turns of running a small business, and we thought, hey, maybe our readers would want to find out more about this brilliant Bristolian small business too.
So here’s the next edition of our Lovely Small Stories, 8 enlivening questions with co-owner Jonny Simpson from Full Court Press Coffee.
1. Why did you start your small business?
It was Mat North who started the cafe, and then 4 of us staff have gradually bought him out. We recognised that what he had created was special, and took it on to keep it from closing, and to grow it into something even better. We took on an empty unit two doors up from the cafe and started roasting our own coffee.
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2. Tell us about your background before Full Court Press Coffee
I was a previously a freelance photographer, and worked in speciality coffee as my side hustle. Now it’s very much all coffee, and photography is occasionally the side hustle.
3. What is your personal favourite product and why?
One of the products we came out with that I’m really proud of is something Chris, our head roaster came up with: No Profit Coffee. It was a response to hearing about so many baristas losing their jobs during lockdowns and we wanted to do something about it.
We got a 60kg sack of coffee for cost price from our supplier, sold it for £3.15/250g bag including postage and made absolutely no money on it.
The response was amazing, it would sell out within minutes each time we launched it over a 4 week period, and got load of feedback from people saying how nice it was to be able to get delicious coffee at a time when personal finances were tough.
4. What’s the loveliest part of running Full Court Press Coffee?
I’d say doing it alongside your friends. We now run the roastery and cafe much like a cooperative, who have all worked as staff in the cafe. Laurence, Rosy & Chris, it’s an absolute honour to own this coffee business with you all.
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5. Tell us about a significant turning point that positively impacted your small business
The first lockdown was a massive turning point and made us reevaluate nearly everything we do, luckily we were given a lot of time to do so. Like a lot of people we realised we had to adapt, and be proactive about changing the business as the was a big risk of going under and letting down our staff.
We put all of the coffee we were selling on the shelf online, delivered them on our bikes around Bristol (something we still currently do, just less frequently) and ripped up our whole cafe to rebuild it to be a safer space for when we let people back inside.
From all of that we realised we needed to make our business more resilient, so the idea of roasting our own coffee came about. We invited a previous staff member who left to become a coffee roaster to come back, and he set up our coffee roastery with us, and now also one of the business owners.
6. What’s a terribly unlovely thing that you’ve experienced that might have had unintended positive consequences?
I’d have to say dealing with a customer who disagreed with the sentiment of our “dismantle systemic racism” poster in our window, and left us a 1 star review. Our response to the review got picked up by Bristol 24/7, and was the hot topic of discussion on reddit.
We subsequently got a lot of people visiting us just to say how much they loved and supported our response, and it let people know what we are all about.
7. What’s a lovely thing you have planned for the next 12 months of Full Court Press Coffee
We’ll be moving our roastery to a bigger site and purchasing a bigger roaster soon, which means we’ll be able to supply more places, be more efficient and have some time to work on our website SEO.
8. As recommended by Jonny @ Full Court Press Coffee
We asked Jonny to recommend 3 podcasts, blogs, or Instagram accounts that he’d recommend to other small business owners…
The weekly Q&A obviously, it’s free website/SEO advice with a lot of real examples.
Laurence came up with this and runs it voluntarily, and is free for businesses to advertise for roles.
Because Deliveroo doesn’t need any more money, and indies need to support each other.