As an aficionado and accomplished roaster, James Wilkins knows the value of the humble coffee bean.
Spotting a gap in the local market just over a decade ago, James took the plunge starting his own small coffee roasting company in Hull, The Blending Room.
After experiencing early success selling his produce at local farmers markets, the business soon expanded to its first formal premises.
With the help of the team at NPS Humber, James settled on a site at the Boulevard Factory Estate in the city, giving him the perfect platform to expand.
Moving into a Hull City Council-owned property also provided him with the reassurance he needed as a budding entrepreneur, without exposing himself to the risk of being locked into an expensive long-term lease.
“Having space meant that I could grow the business,” James said.
“I could invite clients down to do training, in addition to all of the benefits that having your own business property has.”
The location of the site – which was recommended by NPS Humber – brought the additional benefit of ensuring separation between James’ work and home life, which he now reflects on as one of the best pieces of advice he’s ever had.
Six years on, and the company continued to go from strength to strength, firmly establishing its place as a leading independent coffee roaster in the region.
Here to brighten up the weekend is Friday’s new coffee release, San Lorenzo. Expect classic Colombia regional flavours of lime, orange zest and butter-caramel. Enjoy. pic.twitter.com/CQ8SttrwEp
— theblendingroom (@TheBlendingRoom) November 27, 2020
With a passion for sharing quality coffee, sourced directly from farms and farm owners around the world, James was ready to take the next step – moving into another council-owned unit nearly ten times the size of his original site.
The team at NPS Humber and Hull City Council provided guidance and support every step of the way, ensuring the move was simple and seamless.
With a diverse portfolio of factory estate units based across the city, ranging from 325 to 4,500 sq ft, the council was ideally placed to provide plenty of great options for new premises, with James settling on a site within the same estate where he was already located.
“The new unit is an awful lot larger. The premises that I was at was capping the ability for my business to grow,” he said.
“The physical space itself meant that I couldn’t store any more, so I was at a point where I had to move, and it was fortunate that this became available.”
The new space has helped The Blending Room to expand its team to four people, sourcing and roasting coffee for various outlets in Hull, as well as across Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.
A strong community focus lies at the heart of the business, which has come to the fore even more so during the Covid pandemic, which has rocked the hospitality sector.
Acknowledging the difficulties many of his partners have faced in recent months, James has helped lend support by pausing some of their payments and giving them time and space to get back on their feet.
He even used a recent grant he received to help purchase five espresso machines for new businesses, which couldn’t afford to pay for them outright.
Despite the challenges of the current climate, James sees a bright future for the sector, particularly in East Yorkshire.
“There’s always been good things in Hull, but today is better than yesterday and the future is rosy. Should we navigate through this slightly difficult time, I think that the future is good for the city.”