From two college friends hatching plans while sharing lifts and stories to a fast-growing speciality coffee and clothing business, No.1 Cubs has come a long way in a short time. We caught up with co-founder Matt Butler to hear the Cubs story – from all day brunches to bear-hugging parasols in the autumn gales.
“Billy and I started playing rugby together aged 14 or so. We didn’t know each other that well at first, but became really close at college, sharing lifts for rugby training in the mornings, and our friendship grew from there. I went on to study Sports Science at Exeter University, and Billy became a professional rugby player for Exeter Chiefs. But he’d also done a barista course, and got me into it too. We set up a little coffee company, working with Origin Coffee, got a van, and started doing some sporting events through Cornwall in the summer. It was quite basic – just a hobby to start with. But we loved it.
My grandparents had had a café, and it was always something I wanted to do. When we got the opportunity to do a pop-up in Charlestown harbour – which grew into a permanent spot – I left my day job and decided to give it my all.
The No. 1 Cubs name was inspired by Billy’s position for Exeter Chiefs rugby (No. 1) and the Chicago Cubs baseball team that was playing on TV in the background while we were brainstorming names at my dining room table! I’d always wanted an animal name and logo for the company, and was really into geometric shapes – so it grew naturally from there.
I’ve also always had a passion for clothes; it’s my downfall! We got some simple Cubs uniforms made up for our team at an event, then people started asking for them. So we did a basic website with a couple of T-shirts – and the clothing really took off. Having the specialty coffee and clothing sides together in the business has worked really well. It’s also quite seasonal – the coffee is especially busy in the summer, while the clothing peaks in the winter. We now have deals with 30 university sports teams supplying leisurewear.
Tom from Origin [the founder] introduced us to the Watergate Bay team, and it was such a great opportunity. At first, we converted our original van, serving coffees out the back of it on Sea Lane. It was really popular, so we bought a bigger van that our baristas could actually stand inside, so they could keep serving through the winter. (Before that, I remember bear-hugging a parasol that was almost blowing away in the autumn gales, outside the van!)
The atmosphere at Watergate Bay is really buzzing, and the people are great. The last 18 months there have allowed us to develop as a company and understand how we want to grow moving forwards. We love all the regular faces, and the feeling at high tide when the sea is right up at the bottom of the lane. Even on a blustery day, the Bay has a really unique feel – it has a huge appeal to us, and is different from anywhere else.
Our two main priorities have always been great coffee and customer service. Everyone in our team is under the age of 26, and it’s a really vibrant young local team. It’s really exciting, we’re very open to trying lots of new things, and all feel a great sense of possibility right now.”
No.1 Cubs pop-up is open seven days a week on sea lane leading down to the beach.
They’ve also just opened a café inside The Hangar coworking space at Newquay Aerohub, and will be opening a new café in Mevagissey in 2022.