Cartwheel Cafe and Roastery is part of Nottingham’s speciality coffee explosion, which saw a cluster of openings over the summer of 2016. It joined the likes of The Speciality Coffee Shop and Outpost Coffee, along with more established players, such as 200 Degrees and Wired Café Bar. As the name suggests, Cartwheel is both café and roastery, the roasting taking place at the back of the store using an innovative 2.5 kg electric roaster. There’s an impressive food offering, with full breakfast and lunch menus, plus pre-prepared sandwiches and salads for those in a hurry. Of course, there’s plenty of cake, plus a choice of six Postcard Teas and multiple soft drinks.
However, the main draw is the coffee. When I visited in the summer, just six weeks after Cartwheel had opened, there was a Brazilian single-origin espresso, with a choice of three single-origins on pour-over (for one) or Syphon (for two). There are plans to change this slightly, keeping the Brazilian for milk-based espresso drinks, but offering espresso (including long blacks and Americanos) as a brew method alongside the pour-over filter and syphon, the idea being to have three or four single-origins available through any of the brew methods.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Cartwheel occupies a small ground floor space towards the top of Nottingham’s Low Pavement. A passageway leads to an intriguing courtyard at the rear. However, this is occupied by a tea shop, while the door to Cartwheel is at the start of the passageway, on the left. Although the courtyard’s off limits, if you do want to sit outside, there are a couple of quiet four-person tables on the broad, steeply-sloping pavement.
Cartwheel has made the most of an awkward space. Long and thin, it’s both cosy and quirky, largely due to the interesting fitted furniture which extracts every last square centimetre out of the restricted space. Normally, I’m not a fan of coffee shops trying to cram too much in, but Cartwheel has done an amazing job.
The door’s at 45 degrees, cutting off the right-hand corner at the front. There’s a two-person window-bar immediately to the left, while a four-person high-table projects from the wall. Next are two low two-person tables, then comes the counter. Meanwhile, there’s more seating against the right-hand wall, a mix of two- and four-person tables that run up to and past the counter, culminating in a fitted high-table at the back. Finally, right at the back, three low stools enable you to sit at a window and stare enviously at the courtyard outside.
As well as the window at the back, there’s another at front, plus more windows punctuating the right-hand side. None is particularly big and several only provide borrowed light, so to prevent it becoming too gloomy, Cartwheel has numerous light-fittings, which adds to the cosy feel. The interior is fitted out with a range of styles, predominantly white, ceramic wall tiles, but also exposed brick and wood cladding.
Cartwheel serves breakfast and lunch until 3.30 (4.00 on Saturday). There are typical dishes, such as granola and various eggs on toast, plus rather esoteric offerings, including chia pudding and cowboy beans. Initially, such an output seems impossible in somewhere so small, but, like fellow recent-arrivals The Speciality Coffee Shop, Cartwheel has a kitchen hidden in the basement where all the food is prepared.
Too late for food, I had a slice of salted caramel and chocolate shortbread tart to compensate. This was very sweet, but not at all salty (which is fine by me), with a wonderfully crumbly shortbread base. Of course, there had to be coffee, the barista recommending the Kenyan as a pour-over (the other choices were Ethiopian and Colombian). Cartwheel uses handmade pottery filters from Japan, each hand-thrown and hence unique. However, they are similar to Kalita Wave filters and use Kalita papers.
My coffee and cake were beautifully presented on a tray, the coffee in tall, narrow-necked carafe, handleless ceramic cup to the side. It arrived with the tasting/origin notes on a little card propped up on the carafe. The coffee itself was very fine, a delicate cup that arrived at the correct drinking temperature and evolved as it cooled, bringing out its fruity notes.
A word about the roaster, a 2.5 kg machine with an effective capacity of around 1.5 kg, so definitely small batch roasting! It’s electric, rather than gas, and captures and cleans its own exhaust gases, so there is no need for an external flu, making it ideal for small shops like Cartwheel.
|16 LOW PAVEMENT • NOTTINGHAM • NG1 7DL|
|www.cartwheelcoffee.com||+44 (0) 115 959 8434|
|Monday||08:30 – 17:00||Roaster||Cartwheel (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:30 – 17:00||Seating||Tables, Bars, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:30 – 17:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch, Cake|
|Thursday||08:30 – 17:00||Service||Table|
|Friday||08:30 – 17:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||08:30 – 17:00||Wifi||Free (with code)|
|Chain||No||Visits||8th August 2016|
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