With Portchester only being a 10-minute drive away and having spectacular views of the Solent looking out from the ancient castle, it really lends itself as an area of creativity. Outside of Southsea, it is lovely to see indie businesses dotted around the coastline. I caught up with James and Carly from LowTide Coffee who are based at Portchester to find out more about their coffee business and why they started it.
Where did the idea of starting a coffee business come from?
The idea for LowTide really stemmed from our love of a good cup of coffee! James & I have always really genuinely enjoyed it and over the years have collected an array of home brewing equipment, there’s something really special about a lazy Sunday with a house filled with that caffeine aroma. James showed an interest in the technical side and the dream was to have a little space where we could combine his love of music and coffee.
How did you get started?
The first lockdown happened and with so much time on our hands, we made the decision to invest in a small home roaster so that James could start to build his knowledge around the roasting practice and really just tried working with the software. He did some courses, read some books, and started getting some sample coffee out to friends & family. The response was positive and the idea to go down the roasting route developed, with 2 small children, the idea of a coffee shop felt unrealistic and James was genuinely enjoying the roasting process.
What were the next steps?
In July 2017, Carly was made redundant after 15 years and in August we made the decision to register LowTide Coffee Co as a business. The roaster was upgraded to a 5KG Roast Max and was being shipped from Australia, James did a course on how to use the roaster and really we decided it was all or nothing!
From that point, we threw ourselves into all things set up; logos, website, packaging, socials going live. Our plan was to work hard on creating a buzz around what was to come and really just try and raise our profile. The logo/branding attracted way more attention than we ever anticipated, James was keen to work with the illustrator to make sure the logo really incorporated our Portchester roots as we were both born and raised here. We wanted something that stood out from the crowd.
How are things going with the business now?
Fast forward to December 2020 and we were finally ready to go live on the website & from that point we have been totally overwhelmed with the love & support we have received. The online sales have been better than we could have imagined and we feel so grateful for how our first 3 months of trading have gone. Our plan from the start was to be as transparent as we could be in terms of our journey, we wanted to be clear that James is learning all the time in terms of roasting and that all of this is very very new to us. Hopefully, that has worked in our favour and people have come on the journey with us which is just so lovely. We have genuinely loved engaging with people and doing the deliveries has allowed us to step outside to go and have that personal touch and contact with our customers.
Has the pandemic affected you?
Hitting another lockdown, unfortunately, put a halt to some positive conversations being held with trade settings but moving forward, our plan is to hopefully have LowTide being used as a supplier for commercial customers. It would be a bit of dream come true for us to see our coffee being sold in coffee shops and we are committed to making that happen in the future. In terms of our profile, we really want LowTide to be a brand rather than just a roasting business. The customer experience is super important to us and we have so many ideas around how we can enhance it; music & playlists, gratitude, cocktails, collaborations. We are always thinking but one step at a time, we’ve learnt that planning and implementing things properly is really so key.
What do you try to concentrate on as a coffee business?
The quality of the coffee has been our priority up to this point, James has wanted to concentrate on single-origin so that we could build his confidence as well as really focus on the process and getting that perfect for our customers. As a result, we now feel ready to offer a subscription service and this went live last week which is exciting. Having good control over that, developing the experience for our home use customers, and getting LowTide out into local commercial settings are really our main objectives for 2021….we just need this little world of ours to re-open first!!!!
You can now order LowTide Coffee as a subscription whether that be a weekly bag or just treating yourself once a month, make sure you check out the website for these details. As a collaboration, Southsea Folk have teamed up with LowTide Coffee to offer any customers entering into a subscription will instantly be put into a prize draw to win a Love Bundle which includes a 250g Bag of hand roasted coffee and a hand poured scented candle from Henwick Candles worth £20!
Look at the socials below for more news on LowTide