The subject of today’s Meet the Roaster has a long history. I visited the original Yorks Bakery Café on Newhall Street during my first trip to Birmingham exactly four years ago today, when I met a knowledgeable, engaging young barista called Richard. Since then Yorks has expanded, both in size and ambition. First came the new Yorks Espresso Bar at the Colmore Row end of the Great Western Arcade. Then, at the end of 2015, Newhall Street closed, the site undergoing a major redevelopment, with Yorks moving the Bakery Café to new premises on Stephenson Street, next to Birmingham New Street Station. Now there’s a third Yorks, with a new branch at the Ikon Gallery.
However, that’s not the half of it. Soon after moving into Stephenson Street, Yorks acquired the adjacent unit, effectively tripling its size. While it was still a building site, I was given a behind-the-scenes tour by a very excited Richard, who pointed out a small, awkward area at the back, cut-off from the rest of the space by stairs giving access to the basement. That, he told me, was where the new Probat was going. Yorks, it seemed, was going to become a coffee roaster…
Long before I ever visited Florida/Miami (or, indeed, had plans to), one name in speciality coffee stood out: the subject of today’s Meet the Roaster, Panther Coffee. When I found myself on a business trip to Miami, with next-to-no-time to explore, it was the one place that I decided I had to visit. As luck would have it, our team dinner, on my last night in Miami, was at the Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, just two blocks north of Panther on NW 2nd Avenue. I took this as a sign, and, getting out of the meeting slightly early, I jumped in a cab and made a beeline for the Wynwood District.
Panther was established five years ago and while it now has three branches, this one (Wynwood) is the original. As well as being a rather nice coffee shop (which now features as a Coffee Spot in its own right), Panther roasts all its coffee here, on a vintage, 1927 Perfekt roaster. However, change is afoot since the roaster is nearing capacity and Panther has plans to move to a new roasting facility, where it will install a 22kg version of the same machine. So, come down while you can if you want to watch the coffee being roasted in-store.
The subject of today’s Meet the Roaster, Allpress Espresso, is at the opposite end of the scale from Weanie Beans, the roaster we met last week. Allpress can be said to be truly international, with roasteries in New Zealand (where it all started in 1986) Australia, Japan and the UK. It’s also pushing the (self-imposed) boundaries of what I started the Coffee Spot to write about. For me, speciality coffee is all about small-scale, independent operations. On the other hand, Allpress, despite its size, still very much has those qualities at its heart.
Allpress has been in the UK since September 2010, when the original roastery/coffee shop opened on Redchurch Street. Redchurch is still going, but only as an espresso bar, the roastery moving out to its new site in Dalston in May 2015 after four years of continued growth. The new roastery has plenty of room for expansion and includes a full café on site, with an upstairs that opens at the weekend for brunch. During the week, you’ll just have to “squeeze in” downstairs.
The café is the subject of a Coffee Spot in its own right: today we are just looking at the roasting side of the operation.
Weanie Beans, the subject of the first Meet the Roaster of 2017, is one of the lesser known names in speciality coffee roasting, although the company, and its founder, Adeline, go back all the way to 2007 and market stall in west London. Along the way, Adeline used to have the patch at King’s Cross now occupied by Craft Coffee, who took it on from Noble Espresso, who took it on from Weanie Beans…
These days you can find Weanie Beans roasting coffee in its new north London home and, while the market stalls are gone, there is a new café, Heirloom, in the Buckinghamshire village of Edlesborough. Although best known for its espresso blends, such as Citizen Kane, and its seasonal espresso blend, Weanie Beans is branching out. It roasts bespoke espresso blends for cafés such as &Feast (Barnes and Sheen) and is increasingly roasting single-origins for filter. Recently it’s launched a new espresso blend, Scout, which is proving a big hit in Heirloom.
As well as finding Weanie Beans at a growing number of London coffee shops, you can buy all the coffee from the Weanie Beans web shop. There is also an increasingly popular monthly subscription service.
I first came across The Roasting Party, subject of today’s Meet the Roaster, in 2014 at Beany Green, Paddington, where, for a couple of years, a Roasting Party flat white was the start to my working day. Shortly afterwards, I met Kirby and Wes, the Aussie duo behind The Roasting Party, at that year’s London Coffee Festival. I’ve been following their progress ever since, both as Beany Green has expanded and as The Roasting Party has gained accounts at the likes of C.U.P. in Reading, Brighton’s The Marwood and Espresso by K2 & Farm Girl Café in West London. Most recently, The Roasting Party has started supplying Winchester’s very own Coffee Lab.
Kirby and Wes (perhaps unfairly) have a reputation as the party boys of speciality coffee, free-spirited Aussies who don’t take themselves too seriously. On the other hand, as the name suggests, they do like a party, which is abundantly clear to anyone who’s visited The Roasting Party stand at successive London Coffee Festivals, where there’s even a resident DJ…
This, however, does The Roasting Party a disservice, since while Kirby and Wes might not take themselves very seriously, they do take the business of coffee extremely seriously indeed…
Liverpool’s 92 Degrees isn’t just an ordinary (speciality) coffee shop. Instead it also happens to be a roaster as well, and what’s more, it’s one that roasts on-site, akin to Manchester’s Ancoats Coffee Co. or Birmingham’s Quarter Horse Coffee Roasters. However, the uniqueness doesn’t stop there. Most roasters are usually set up by people with a strong background in coffee, whereas 92 Degrees is the brainchild of five friends from the software business, united by a love of coffee/coffee shops. What’s more, while most start small and grow with small steps, 92 Degrees went all in, roasting its own beans onsite from the outset.
92 Degrees, the coffee shop, has its own entry on the Coffee Spot. Today’s post, part of the occasional Meet the Roaster series, focuses on the roasting side of the business. As well as supplying the coffee shop, 92 Degrees has a growing retail customer-base, plus you can buy the beans, either in the store or on-line. 92 Degrees roasts a mix of blends for espresso and single-origin coffees for both espresso and filter. 92 Degrees has also been a champion of good decaf from the outset, always having a single-origin decaf on espresso.
I first came across Liverpool’s Neighbourhood Coffee, the subject of today’s Meet the Roaster feature, at last year’s Cup North. While Neighbourhood only started roasting in 2015, its founders, Ed and Chris, have plenty of coffee experience between them, having previously worked for green-bean importers and African coffee specialists, Schluter. Spotting a gap in the Liverpool market, they set out to establish Liverpool’s first speciality coffee roastery.
Working from a very modern set-up in a railway arch just north of the city centre, Neighbourhood roasts on a 15kg Giesen, a Dutch roaster which I see popping up more and more frequently in UK roasteries. Neighbourhood roasts a couple of espresso blends and has four to six single-origins. You can now enjoy Neighbourhood’s coffee in select cafes in the Liverpool area, and, increasingly around the country, plus via the on-line shop.
Like many small and start-up roasters, roasting is a small part of what Neighbourhood does. A large part of the business is building a market for speciality coffee, as well as providing training and support for existing and new customers. As much space in the arch is given over to the large training suite as it is to the roaster.
Today’s Meet the Roaster, Bristol’s Extract Coffee Roasters, is one of the first roasters I became aware of when I started the Coffee Spot. It’s also one of the first, after Rave and Clifton, to invite me to visit the roastery, so it’s rather embarrassing that it’s taken me until now to accept the invitation! My host for the day was Callum, a relatively new recruit to Extract, but I was lucky enough to meet Dave, who along with his sister and best friend, established Extract in 2007.
For a while, Extract was synonymous in my head with the Boston Tea Party, the Bristol-based, regional chain, which is still a major Extract customer. However, it’s so much more than that, with a national presence. These days, it roasts around 13 tons of coffee a month (a far cry from its original 5kg roaster), with 80% of the output as espresso blends. The remaining 20% includes single-origin espressos with iconic names such as Dr Strangelove and Strongman, Extract’s Movember single-origin, which is only on sale in November, a £1 donation made to charity for each kg sold. There are also single-origin filters and filter blends which are steadily increasing in popularity.
The subject of today’s Meet the Roaster is Butterworth & Son, a Suffolk roaster with a long pedigree and a name that’s as well known (locally) for its tea as for its coffee. Butterworth & Son was catapulted to fame in specialty coffee circles with the success that Howard Barwick had with its coffee in the 2012 UK Barista Championship (UKBC), another example of the beneficial impact of barista competitions on the industry.
These days, Butterworth & Son has a national (coffee) reputation, roasting up to 20 different green beans at a time on a new, 12kg Diedrich roaster. Predominantly, these go into espresso blends, but about 30% of the output is single-origin coffees, all of which is available to buy on-line.
Butterworth & Son hasn’t forgotten its roots, both in terms of product (tea still plays a major role in the company) and geography. As well as its roastery in an industrial estate in Bury St Edmunds, it has recently opened a café, Guat’s Up! (named after its bespoke espresso blend of two Guatemalan coffees) in the town and Butterworth & Son is committed to improving the quality of the local speciality coffee market.
I never done this before, updating a Meet the Roaster… Technically, this means it’s a Saturday Update, but also a Meet the Roaster… Fortunately, I suspect that I’m the only one who actually cares about these things…
I first visited Ancoats in August 2014, when it occupied the corner of a small unit in the corner of an industrial estate in Manchester’s Ancoats district. Fast forward 18 months, and Ancoats, after only two years, was doing so well that it could move not only into bigger premises, but into an amazing café/roastery in Manchester’s Royal Mills development.
The Coffee Spot covered the café-side of things back in November last year, so today I’m focusing on the roastery. Ancoats has long been a favourite of mine, roasting some fine coffee, including some of my favourite decafs. This is joined by its ubiquitous Warehouse espresso blend and anything up to nine single-origins. You can get the Warehouse blend, decaf and a different single-origin every week on espresso at the café, while three single-origins are on filter at any one time. These change on a daily basis and, if you ask nicely, chances are that you can have any single-origin that’s in stock.