Ropes and Twines
Tian Tso is a man on a mission – to introduce the people of Liverpool to some of the world’s best wine and coffee producers. “We want people to look at coffee the same way they look at wine – to understand the origin and the process of roasting and extraction and how this will impact the flavour profile. We source our coffee from small roasteries across Europe, and we want to introduce our customers to a new experience in coffee, whether that’s a small batch roast or fermented beans. Good coffee should be tasted and savoured, just as wine has been for many years.”
Watching people discover a new wine or coffee is part of the joy for Tian, who often makes recommendations based on his customers preferences. “Every day is an education for our customers and for us. Our own product knowledge has grown so much in the two years since we opened. We look back at our original wine lists and see how far we’ve come in introducing some really special products to our customers, and we’re also starting to see a new type of coffee drinker who is interested in the tasting experience that new coffees can bring.”
Sustainability is a subject close to Tian Tao’s heart, and he’s working towards a goal of becoming a zero-waste business. “We’re really close to achieving zero waste here at Ropes & Twines. We recently switched our milk supplier to a local dairy in Cheshire, who provide us with 1 litre glass bottles which we return to them after use. Our glassware is made from recycled glass, and we have a specific glass recycling bin for any which get damaged. We also have a machine in place which allows us to preserve our wines in their bottles, which means that we can sell more expensive wines by the glass without worrying about creating waste. These small steps have really helped us in our mission to become a more sustainable business”.
This ethical and sustainable approach also extends to the supply chain at Ropes & Twines. “Our charcuterie supplier is based in London, and sources products for a number of Michelin star restaurants in the capital. Their focus is specifically on small producers, so that they can ensure the welfare of the animals on each individual farm. They are also careful to only purchase 20% of the farm’s total production, as their belief is that the majority should be consumed by the local community. We have a cheese which comes from a farm with only six cows, and we are directly connected to these producers. Our success directly impacts their livelihood.”
Supporting their supply chain is critical to the success of Ropes & Twines. “We’ve changed our own payment terms to ensure that all of our suppliers are paid within 7 days, but the reality is that we try to pay them on the day we receive their invoice. We’re lucky to be a business who gets paid as soon as we sell our product, so we try to pass that on to our community .We understand that times are hard and we want to ensure that those who support us are looked after during this difficult time.”
When it was announced that Liverpool would be placed under Tier 3 restrictions, closing Ropes & Twines was not an option for Tian. “We’ve been impacted by the curfew and the restrictions around households mixing, but our customers have been understanding, but our supply chain relies on our business staying open. Our own team are like family and knowing that they have a job to come to every day is important for their own wellbeing. We also want to remain open for our local community, and for the customer who calls in because they’re having a hard time or a bad day – we want to be open and be here for them when they need a friendly face.”
Tian is optimistic about the future of Ropes & Twines and has a positive take on the past year. “Personally, I will look back on 2020 as an important year. We were challenged, but it gave us time to reflect and in solving problems we have imagined solutions which might not have been considered before. We launched an online ordering service for our wine during the first lockdown, and we’re now in the process of building a stronger retail offering over the coming months. Covid threw us some challenges but it also brought into focus what matters to us as a business.”