The subject of today’s Meet the Roaster is the Brooklyn Roasting Company. Tucked away on Jay Street, under the Manhattan Bridge, it was a highlight of my visit to Brooklyn back in March. Occupying the ground floor of a sprawling five-storey building, it’s an amazing place, which, as well as being a wonderful coffee shop, is also the Brooklyn Roasting Company’s headquarters, with all the roasting taking place on-site.
So, as well as popping in for a great cup of coffee, you can also sit in the far corner watching the green beans being hoovered into the 35kg Loring roaster and enjoying the spectacle of freshly-roasted beans pouring out some 12 minutes later. Don’t worry about when to come if you want to catch the roaster in action; it’s pretty much a nonstop, all-day operation!
Although the Brooklyn Roasting Company is a very modern affair, the building on Jay Street is steeped in coffee history. It used to be the stables of the famous Arbuckles’ coffee roastery, which was situated across Jay Street, the horses being used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to haul the sacks of green beans from the ships docked at the nearby waterfront.
As I have written elsewhere about Sheffield’s coffee scene, it very much grew up independently and spontaneously about three years ago. This holds true as much for its cafés as it does for its roasters, typified by the subject of today’s Meet The Roaster series, Foundry. Set up almost three years ago by founder, Lee, Foundry is content to do its own thing, in its own way and at its own pace.
Concentrating on roasting solely single origins and on selling primarily directly to the consumer through the internet, Foundry initially focused more on the filter market than espresso, which makes up the bulk of a typical roaster’s sales. Then again, there’s nothing typical about Foundry! Foundry diversified into espresso when the second member of the team, Callum, came on board.
These days, Foundry roasts five or six single-origin beans, looking to extract the flavours that Lee identifies in the green bean. The aim is to get the optimum roast profile and then work out what extraction method best suits it, with a focus on the clarity of the taste. You can find Foundry’s output on its website although the coffee’s also available in a limited number of coffee shops.
January 2017: Foundry now has a coffee shop of its very own on Bank Street in Sheffield City Centre. You can see what I made of it when I visited in February 2018.
The first Saturday Supplement of 2015 is another in the (now not so) occasional Meet the Roaster series. After the recent appearances by Leeds’ North Star and Manchester’s Ancoats, we now head north of the border to North Berwick and Steampunk Coffee. I wrote about Steampunk’s fantastic café/roastery, The Warehouse, towards the end of last year, but that was in its guise as a Coffee Spot. Today, I’m focusing on Steampunk in its role as a roaster, which is how I first came across it earlier in the year when I visited Edinburgh’s Machina Espresso.
The roasting side of Steampunk is firmly on display when you enter The Warehouse. Tucked away to the right (behind the Christmas tree when I visited) there’s a whole corner dedicated to Steampunk’s 12 kg Probat roaster, which is usually in action on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, should you wish to see it on the go. I, of course, was there on a Sunday…
Steampunk roasts a number of espresso blends, the main ones being the Tiger Stripes and Velos blends, while there are around 10 single origins, of which four or so are being roasted/are available at any one time.
November 2015: I ran into the Steampunk guys at Cup North, and discovered that Steampunk now only roasts single-origins.
Typical: you wait ages for a Meet the Roaster Saturday Supplement, then two come along in the same month! Hot on the heels of North Star Micro Roasters comes, from the other side of the Pennines, Manchester’s Ancoats Coffee Company.
Back in August, as part of my Manchester tour for Caffeine Magazine, I popped in to see Jamie, the man behind Ancoats. Appropriately enough, you can find Jamie in the birth-place of Manchester’s industrial revolution, the Ancoats district, after which the company takes its name. Just to the east of the city centre, it’s a remarkably accessible part of town, although it does look like it’s come straight out of the famous Life on Mars TV series, which was set in Manchester in the 1970s.
Jamie set up Ancoats in October 2013 and began trading in January 2014, so he’s about to celebrate Ancoats first birthday. Roasting on a 6 kg Giesen, Ancoats produces a seasonal espresso blend (appropriately enough, called Warehouse City), an excellent decaf and a number of single-origin beans. You can learn about Ancoats’ coffee on the website, where you can also buy the beans. Alternatively pop in and say hello: Jamie would love to see you.
November 2015: Ancoats has moved to an amazing new café/roastery in Manchester’s Royal Mills development. I’ve also done an update on the roastery.
Today’s Saturday Supplement is another in the occasional Meet the Roaster series. Today we’re in Leeds, at North Star Micro Roasters, who have been going for just over a year now. I went to see Krag and Ellis, the guys behind North Star, back in the summer as part of my Coffee Spot tour of Leeds.
Roasting with a 5 kg Toper in an industrial estate just north of Leeds, North Star is that city’s first micro-roaster, which is a quite a surprise considering the strong coffee scene in the city and in the nearby Harrogate and York, which, together with Leeds, make up the Yorkshire Coffee Triangle. There’s also a strong roasting presence with the likes of Holmfirth’s Grumpy Mule, while in Harrogate, Falcon Speciality is one of the country’s leading green bean importers.
However, Leeds’ wait for a speciality coffee roaster to call its very own ended last October when North Star started production. There are two espresso blends, the seasonal Czar Street, which changes three to four times a year, and the Dark Arches blend. Added to this are around eight single-origins, roasted primarily for filter, but with some roasted for espresso.
August 2017: North Star moved the roastery to Leeds Dock last year, opening a cafe in the space next door in July this year. Expect an update soon!
Today’s Saturday Supplement is another in the occasional Meet the Roaster series. Continuing with the Glasgow/Commonwealth Games theme, we’re at Glasgow’s Dear Green Coffee, roasting high-quality coffee in the heart of the city since 2011. Dear Green roasts two main espresso blends, Goosedubbs and Treron (a seasonal blend), various bespoke blends and 16 single-origin beans. These are mostly for filter, which forms an ever-increasing percentage of Dear Green’s growing output.
I first discovered Dear Green Coffee when I visited the much-missed Razzo Coffee in Edinburgh. I met Dear Green’s founder and head roaster, Lisa Lawson, at the London Coffee Festival in 2013, when, against all the odds, she persuaded me to try her take on the traditional Italian caffè corretto. This was a single shot of the Treron blend, taken with a drop of whisky and honey. To my even greater surprise, I really liked it! Given that I can’t stand whisky and hate having sugar in my coffee, it’s high praise indeed!
I met up with Lisa again at this year’s London Coffee Festival, when we arranged for me to visit the Dear Green roastery as part of my trip to Glasgow on behalf of Caffeine Magazine.
November 2015: Dear Green has moved to a new, much larger roastery near the Barrowland Ballroom. Unfortunately I’ve not had time to check out the new roastery on my last two trips to Glasgow.
I present the second of four Saturday Supplements, drawn from an extended version of my article in Issue 6 of Caffeine Magazine on the Newcastle coffee scene. Although not specifically written as part of my Meet the Roaster series, it ticks all the boxes, so I have included it as such.
In complete contrast to Pumphrey’s, the subject of my previous article in this series, today it’s the turn of new-kid-on-the-block, Ouseburn Coffee Co. OCC, as it’s known, has been around for less than two years, but has quickly established itself a reputation as a roaster of some of Newcastle’s finest coffee. Based in the sometimes-overlooked Ouseburn valley, just east of the city centre, Al, Simon, Pete and James, the men behind OCC, have created something special. All friends, who grew up in Newcastle, they gigged together in bands in their early years before going their separate ways. They returned to Newcastle two years ago and got back together, this time to create coffee rather than music.
Each of these Special Saturday Supplements can be read as a stand-alone article or the four can be read together as a coherent whole. The more astute amongst you will notice that in a radical departure from recent practice, this Saturday Supplement has come out on a Saturday! For more details, please see my recent State of the Nation(s) 2014 post.
As promised in my recent State of the Nation(s) 2014 post, I present the first of four Saturday Supplements taken from an extended version of my article in Issue 6 of Caffeine Magazine. This was my feature on the coffee scene in Newcastle, which, since Scott wouldn’t let me fill the entire magazine with one article, had to be cut down somewhat. This left me with lots of interesting things to say, but nowhere to say them.
Until now, that is…
We start, appropriately enough, with where it all began in Newcastle, and that’s Pumphrey’s, a venerable company which can trace its roots all the way back to 1750 when Leigh Smith established the company that was to become Pumphrey’s.
Each of these Special Saturday Supplements can be read as a stand-alone article or the four can be read together as a coherent whole. It also forms part of the Meet the Roaster series, although it wasn’t written specifically a Meet the Roaster. The more astute amongst you will appreciate that I’ve actually published this Saturday Supplement on a Thursday, but that’s just the way it is…
Today’s Saturday Supplement is the second in the occasional series, Meet the Roaster This time it’s Bristol-based Clifton Coffee Company, which invited me over to its warehouse, roasting and training facility at Avonmouth. Clifton Coffee Company has a very different business-model and set-up to Rave Coffee, the subject of the first “Meet the Roaster”, although both roast a similar volume of coffee. As well as in-house roasting, Clifton has its finger in a number of other (coffee-related) pies, including equipment supply (espresso machines, grinders and boilers), engineering support and training in a dedicated training suite.
My visit was also the first time that I have attended any formal coffee cupping (although as formal coffee cuppings go, this was pretty informal). As part of the normal quality-control procedures, the recent output (all filter coffee) was being cupped during the afternoon and Andy, my host for the day, had invited me to join in. For the record there were three Central American single-origin beans (Guatemalan, Finca la Bolsa; Nicaraguan, Finca la Argentina; and a Costa Rican; I think!) along with three more single-origins from Africa (Kenyan, Gatomboya AB; Rwandan, BUF Café Nyarusia; Ethiopian, Shakiso Sidamo).
Today’s Saturday Supplement is the first in an occasional series called “Meet the Roaster”. I did cover a roaster, Leighton Buzzard’s House of Coffee last year, back when the Coffee Spot was young and the Saturday Supplement wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye. However, since the Coffee Spot’s focus is on places to drink coffee, rather than on how it’s produced, I’ve tended not to cover roasters.
That said, there are many wonderful small roasters out there and every now and then I find myself visiting one. So, I present the first “Meet the Roaster”, none other than Rave Coffee, who we met last month, when the Coffee Spot featured the café attached to Rave’s roastery in Cirencester.
That I went to Rave at all is down to Sharon, head box-packer and promoter-in-chief on twitter. Sharon arranged everything, handing me over to the owner, Rob, on arrival. I had a tour of the roastery, although “tour” might be overstating things: Rave fits nicely into a single industrial unit, going from green beans to bagged, roasted coffee via a series of stations around the room. It’s a little confusing to the untutored eye, but is actually a very smooth operation.