When it comes to the story of speciality coffee in North Wales, you have to start with Heartland Coffee Roasters. I first came across Heartland four years ago at Providero in Llandudno Junction, but I was somewhat late to the game, with the company’s roots going back to the year 2000 when founders Mal (Australia) & Tara (New Zealand) arrived in London from New Zealand. Initially roasting coffee in their kitchen, they set up in business in 2005 and then, in 2012, moved to Llandudno, when Heartland was born.
These days Heartland is a regional powerhouse, with a pair of Coffee-tech roasters turning out the crowd-pleasing Landmark espresso blend and its decaf counterpart, along with Samba, a regional blend from Brazil, and a cast of seasonal single-origins (seven at the time of writing). These are supplied to coffee shops across North Wales (and beyond), as well as being available on-line and for pick-up at the roastery, where Heartland has a coffee bar (which features in its own Coffee Spot).
However, as much as Heartland is about coffee, it’s also about relationships: relationships with coffee famers, with coffee shops and with coffee drinkers, all with the aim of raising expectations.
You can see what I found when I visited the roastery after the gallery.
When Mal and Tara arrived in London, they were unhappy with the lack of quality coffee, so started roasting their own, first at home, then, in 2005, on a commercial basis, using a 2 kg Coffee-tech roaster. In 2012, Mal and Tara moved their family to Llandudno to escape the city life and, naturally, the roasting business came with them, renamed to Heartland Coffee Roasters.
Initially Heartland occupied an industrial unit (Unit 3) in Cwrt Roger Mostyn, around the corner from Llandudno station, roasting on a 15 kg Ghibli R15 from Coffee-tech. The business grew hand-in-hand with the steady rise in speciality coffee in North Wales, until, by 2018, Heartland had outgrown Unit 3, moving across Cwrt Roger Mostyn to Unit 6, where the R15 was joined by the last-ever Ghibli R45 (45 kg capacity). The additional space also enabled Heartland to add a coffee bar, along with a mezzanine seating/training area.
When Amanda and I toured North Wales in September, we found Heartland everywhere, with coffee shops singing the roastery’s praises, not just for the coffee, but for the support on offer. Unfortunately, we couldn’t visit the roastery on that trip, but I made a point of popping over to Llandudno the next time I was in North Wales, where I caught up with Huw and Nathan (Heartland’s Coffee And Business Development Manager).
The roastery occupies a large, double-height industrial unit, neatly split between the roastery/production area on the right and the coffee bar and offices on the left, with the training room and mezzanine seating area above. Heartland makes good use of upcycled materials, including two shipping containers on top of each other on the roastery side of the unit, where all bagging/packing takes place. Pallets and crates turn up as furniture, while coffee sacks are recast as upholstery.
The bulk of Heartland’s output is roasted on the mammoth Ghibli R45, which handles the various components for the Landmark blend, while the smaller Ghibli R15 roasts the various single-origins. Unusually, Heartland’s decaf, which is a big seller, is a decaf version of the Landmark blend, using the same components which are decaffeinated by Swiss Water.
Heartland’s range of single-origins includes several which are sourced directly from farmers, with whom Heartland has on-going relationships, often buying the whole crop or lot. Heartland currently has three such coffees on sale, including the Honduras Los Angeles, where the relationship is entering its 13th year, providing the farmer, Angel, with a reliable and sustainable source of income year-on-year.
The relationships go the other way too, Heartland supporting both its wholesale customers (with training, equipment and maintenance as well as coffee) and retail consumers, including direct interactions when they come to the roastery to buy coffee or visit the coffee bar. Heartland’s self-imposed mission is to continuously raise expectations when it comes to coffee, constantly pushing boundaries (for example by supplying businesses outside the traditional speciality coffee shop, such as tea rooms, restaurants and hotels).
The Landmark blend (which Amanda and I had at Rumdoodles) is a crowd-pleaser, a rich, dark espresso which goes really well in milk. Along with the decaf, it’s roasted specifically for espresso, but Heartland’s other offerings are omni-roasts, designed to make the different single-origins accessible to as wide a range of customers as possible. While aimed at Heartland’s growing retail market, Amanda and I found the Brazil Bela Vista Lot 11 as the guest espresso in Caffi Caban, while the same coffee was on filter at The Jester’s Tower Coffee House.
I spent a couple of hours chatting with Nathan and Huw, departing with a considerable haul of coffee (which I tried, and failed, to pay for, so thank you, Heartland, for the generosity). The Landmark has been going nicely through my cafetiere in the mornings, while I got the last bag of the Uganda Rwenzori, a naturally-processed coffee which has been producing some lovely, fruity pour-overs all week.
December 2021: Heartland Coffee Roasters was a runner-up for the 2021 Best Roaster/Retailer Award.
|UNIT 6 CWRT ROGER MOSTYN • BUILDER STREET • LLANDUDNO • LL30 1DS
|+44 (0) 1492 878757
|10:00 – 16:00
|Heartland (espresso + filter)
|10:00 – 16:00
|10:00 – 16:00
|10:00 – 16:00
|10:00 – 16:00
|1st November 2021
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