Cartwheel Cafe & Roastery

My pour-over, served in a handleless glass carafe with a handleless pottery cup, plus a slice of salted caramel and chocolate shortbread tart, at Nottingham's Cartwheel Cafe & Roastery.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.

  • On the steeply-sloping Low Pavement in the centre of Nottingham, you'll find this...
  • ... Cartwheel Coffee: cafe and roastery, all rolled into one.
  • It occupies the left-hand side of this building with the passageway running through it.
  • While the passageway looks interesting, in fact it leads to the courtyard of a tea room...
  • ... while what we want is here on the left. Nice welcome mat/mosaic, by the way.
  • The view from just inside the door. Cartwheel is long, thin & a masterpiece of planning.
  • The door is at 45 degrees, occupying the corner by the passageway.
  • Immediately next to it is this compact two-person window bar...
  • ... while this compact four-person table projects from the left-hand wall.
  • There's plenty more seating, with tables to the left & right, seen here looking from the back.
  • The counter is towards the back, on the left-hand side, beyond which there is more seating.
  • There's this neat corner unit, with more of the yellow-framed chairs.
  • Finally, you can sit on a stool and look out into the courtyard. Sadly you can't sit out there.
  • There's something else at the back of the store as well: Cartwheel's electric roaster!
  • Obligatory shot of sacks of green beans.
  • Cartwheel roasts a number of single-origins, all of which are for sale...
  • ... including this interesting pair of Colombians.
  • Looking in from the passageway.
  • This is what the logo on the window was hiding: the menu. Nice lights too.
  • Talking of lights, while there is some natural light, there are lots of lovely light-fittings too.
  • More bare light bulbs, this time to a backdrop of a wooden-clad wall.
  • And finally, a single, bare bulb with a backdrop of exposed brick.
  • Cartwheel is full of neat things, inclduing these hexagonal storage units on the tiled wall.
  • Nice choice of reading material.
  • Is it me, or is the Cartwheel logo upsidedown in fact a man clinging on for dear life?
  • Back to the aforementioned menu: Cartwheel has an extensive range of food on offer...
  • ... as well as an impressive array of coffee and tea.
  • I was particularly taken with the concise coffee menu.
  • However, there's more, including full breakfast and lunch menus which are on the tables.
  • Some of the sandwiches on offer at Cartwheel, as displayed on the counter...
  • ... along with some of the extensive cake selection.
  • However, if you're wondering where the breakfast/lunch comes from, here's a clue. The dumb waiter beneath the coffee menu connects with the kitchen in the basement. Mystery solved!
  • Meanwhile, the coffee side of the operation is on display for everyone to see.
  • Cartwheel is full of space-saving devices, including this neat feeder for the EK-43.
  • The business end of the coffee set up...
  • ... and, facing the customers, the filter side of the operation.
  • Happy people often make good coffee in my experience. Here's Alex making my pour-over.
  • Here's the pour-over itself, beautifully presented on a tray, complete with carafe of water.
  • The coffee (and cake). The information card is a nice touch.
  • My coffee and the delightful handleless cup.
  • Coffee and cake.
  • My cake, a slice of the salted caramel and chocolate shortbread tart, all by itself.
  • And finally, my coffee in the cup.
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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 +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)
Sunday CLOSED Power No
Chain No Visits 8th August 2016

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