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.
Avenue Coffee grew out of the Avenue G café on Byres Road in Glasgow’s West End. The intention was for Avenue G to roast its own coffee and the second branch, on the Great Western Road, was designed with this in mind. More of a coffee shop than the original, the mezzanine level at the rear of the shop was set aside as the roastery and Tom, then head roaster, oversaw the procurement and installation of the Diedrich roaster.
However, Tom left and the roasting duties were shared by Katelyn and Todd, who have now been joined by Colin, who they are training up as a roaster in his own right. These days, Avenue Coffee roasts around 100 kg a week, of which between 40-60 kg is for its own use (one-third at Great Western Road, two-thirds at Avenue G) with the remainder going to the likes of Glasgow’s Spitfire Espresso and Rialto in Eyemouth. Output includes espresso blends (for example, Spitfire has its own bespoke espresso blend) and single-origins, a cracking decaf (which I’ve enjoyed at home) and several seasonal single-origins roasted for filter. These are all available to buy in the two Avenue stores as well as on-line.
May 2018: I’ve recently learnt that Avenue Coffee is no more. However, both Katelyn and Todd now have their own coffee roasting companies, Common Coffee in Edinburgh (Katelyn) and The Good Coffee Cartel in Glasgow (Todd, along with Courtney, another ex-Avenue Coffee person).
Nottingham’s speciality coffee scene has come a long way since I first visited 2½ years ago, coming away disappointed. Now there’s a flourishing café scene, led by the likes of 200 Degrees, Wired Café Bar, The Pudding Pantry and, out in Beeston, Greenhood Coffee House. However, a good coffee scene needs local roasters too, and Nottingham is now blessed with both 200 Degrees Coffee Roasters and, more recently, Outpost Coffee Roasters.
Although a new name to the speciality coffee world, Outpost brings a wealth of experience in its founders, Greg and Alex. Greg has a long and distinguished history in coffee roasting, having owned Café Boutique, while Alex used to manage The Bean, a family-run coffee shop in Beeston (Alex’s mother still owns it). Greg wanted to take things to the next level and start roasting speciality coffee, while Alex wanted to branch out from the role of barista/shop manager. Together with Liz, who does the all-important admin, they make the perfect team.
Outpost has a training facility/espresso lab in a lovely first-floor space on Stoney Street, in Nottingham city centre, while the roasting takes place in an industrial estate on the city’s outskirts, using a 10kg Petroncini from Italy.
Before there was ever 200 Degrees, the award-winning coffee shop in the centre of Nottingham, there was 200 Degrees Coffee Roasters, who first brought my attention to Nottingham as somewhere where you could get decent coffee.
200 Degrees grew out of Belle and Jerome, a well-known coffee shop in West Bridgford, just down from Trent Bridge cricket ground, and a desire of the owners, Rob and Tom, to roast their own coffee. The catalyst was third partner, Tim, who brought a passion for roasting, having caught the coffee-bug in New Zealand.
Called 200 Degrees after the temperature green beans are roasted at, 200 Degrees grew from fairly humble beginnings to become what is now a fairly major player in Nottingham’s growing speciality coffee scene. As well as supplying its own coffee shop, 200 Degrees also supplies a number of other local shops, roasting a couple of espresso blends, a filter blend and three or four single-origin filters.
As well as supplying coffee, plus the necessary kit to go with it, 200 Degrees is also expanding into training, both for its wholesale customers and for the general consumer, as seen in its training room at the 200 Degrees Coffee Shop.
Quarter Horse Coffee started life on Oxford’s Cowley Road (where the original Quarter Horse has become Peleton Espresso). Back then, Quarter Horse used Square Mile, it’s two founders, Nathan and James, having worked closely with the London roaster while working for Store Street Espresso before setting up Quarter Horse. However, Nathan, who originally hails from Normal, Illinois, was a roaster before he came to the UK, and he’s always wanted to return to his (roasting) roots.
So, it was no great surprise that, when looking to expand beyond a single shop in Oxford, Quarter Horse turned to roasting. What is less predictable is that Quarter Horse would do it in Birmingham and would open a coffee shop/roastery in the process. However, given the prevalence of this model in the US, perhaps it makes sense that Nathan would choose this route.
Whatever the reasoning, Quarter Horse has created a lovely spot; a large, spacious coffee shop on one hand (which features in its own Coffee Spot), with an attached roastery which is visible from pretty much every part of the building. Right now, Quarter Horse roasts one or twice a week, so you’ll have to be lucky to see the roastery in action!