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When you delve into the back story for 200 Degrees Coffee, it started life with two bar owners wanting to serve the best possible cup of coffee to customers.  Tom Vincent and Rob Darby describe it as a “search, that started a journey, which became an obsession” and led them to start roasting their own coffee blends.  In 2012, 200 Degrees Coffee was launched via its first shop to showcase the coffee to the world, starting in Nottingham.

Over the years, the passion of the co-founders is evident with the creation of multiple distinctive coffee shops in addition to six barista schools. This is in addition to hundreds of wholesale and business customers enjoying 200 Degrees ‘beans and machines.’

Promoting itself as being “unashamedly proud to be coffee geeks,” 200 Degrees aims to be a company with high standards in everything it does. This applies to its coffee, its shops, the overall service and the way it treats people, including its suppliers.

We spoke with director and co-founder, Tom Vincent, to understand how the business has evolved from its coffee roasting aspirations to today operating a successful network of 17 shops across the Midlands and North of England, to understand the challenges involved in making sure it continues to hit the mark in achieving its desired aims.

Balancing quality and cost control

“Like lots of people, we are passionate about coffee and whilst we’re sure there are more important things in life, we just can’t think of any,” laughs Tom. “We spend all day roasting, making, drinking and talking about coffee, but we also understand that the perfect cup of coffee is not just about taste or even about what’s in the cup, it’s about doing everything the right way.”

It’s clear that Tom is passionate about providing a very high-quality service, which remains consistent even as the brand continues to expand. He’s quick to talk about how having the right support from key partners and suppliers makes a significant difference to the operations – and cost control – of the business:

“When we set up our first coffee shop in Nottingham, it was really the ‘shop front’ to showcase our coffee blends.  Today we wholesale around three tonnes of coffee a week, however, the success in the retail side of our business has also really taken off. We have a very loyal following – customers seem to love what we are doing.”

A big element of running a retail operation is in managing suppliers and associated costs. Tom continues: “If you want to manage suppliers in-house it is possible to achieve discounts, but only if you’re willing to put in at least a few hours a week minimum on negotiation and researching the ever-changing market prices. As a relatively small operator, I simply don’t have the time to meet all suppliers, negotiate prices and agree on logistics; I just want to get it done, receive a good market price and know that what we want will be delivered, when we need it.”


“To have market specialists manage suppliers and negotiate costs for us means I can spend my time on other things. I recommend Pelican to a lot of people; they achieve the best prices for us, without any hassle.  Nothing slips through the net – for example, if a supplier overcharges in error, the team immediately picks up this. We had this only recently with a milk order; while it was just a few pence more per item, this could have been a £600 overspend based on our volumes. Pelican’s attention to detail spotted this and a rebate was provided. If it’s one penny out they will chase.”

Handling market price fluctuations in the challenging economy

“One thing people are taken aback by however is Pelican’s business model, which means their service is provided with no charge.  There are no add-on fees, bolt-ons or grey areas; they even work with your own preferred local suppliers if you wish, manage pricing, plus give us access to a very thorough and attractive online platform.  From this, our team can easily order and manage stock, control our menus and allergen information, including working out costs per serves. The fact it’s incredibly simple to use is actually really important, as it’s not a struggle to get our managers to use it.”

Managing allergen risks

Owners of food and drink retail establishments are all aware of Natasha’s Law and the importance of labelling and displaying relevant allergen information.  Talking about this issue, Tom is acutely aware that managing this risk across a growing enterprise is vital.

“Getting allergens right in all businesses could literally be a life-or-death situation. Knowing our products are all agreed upon and effectively ‘locked down’ gives me great assurances.  For example, I know our chefs can’t order a different type of pasta that may have different allergen content.  Any new products are automatically added to a matrix, which every site has access to.  I can’t physically visit every single site every day to check, so working with Pelican automatically provides us with a single point of truth and overrides the need to rely on staff to manually check information.”

Continues Tom: “What this also demonstrates is consistency: I know if you visit 200 Degrees in York, you will receive the same quality, product and service if you were to visit our Liverpool shop. When we were smaller all our sites were buying different fresh fish – some with skin on, some skin off, different weights; now, we have an agreed product list across all sites, receiving a better price and enabling consistency of serve.”

Reducing time spent on administration

Before wrapping up the interview Tom was keen to emphasize the benefit of invoice management: “We have gone from having around 600 individual invoices each month to instead receiving one single invoice from Pelican.  We don’t have to check line items or prices against statements – that’s already been done, and we simply have a direct debit payment set up.  Invoicing is not exciting, so it removes the humdrum for me and my team – it’s brilliant and means our people spend their time on more valuable or rewarding jobs.

“I think it’s a no-brainer working with Pelican.  When setting up a new food or beverage-based business, it just makes sense. If you can’t add value doing a task yourself, it pays to outsource to experts that can add value; Pelican fits the bill – and at no extra cost to your business.” 

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