New roast­ery will show­case lat­est cof­fee tech­nol­ogy

Carmarthen Journal - - News -

WE’VE all knocked back a cof­fee first thing in the morn­ing.

Whether it’s in the com­fort of your own home or a cof­fee shop stop on the way to work, most of us don’t func­tion prop­erly with­out it.

But how much do we re­ally know about our cup full of caf­feine? A lot of peo­ple won’t even know where their beans are roasted.

As one of Wales’s big­gest cof­fee brands move sinto its new roast­ery and cof­fee house, it would ap­pear that, whether peo­ple know much about cof­fee or not, there are big things hap­pen­ing in the in­dus­try in Wales.

The fin­ish­ing touches are be­ing put on Coal­town Cof­fee’s new roast­ery when we ar­rive in Am­man­ford – ready for its grand open­ing last Mon­day.

“It’s a live roast­ery,” ex­plains founder, Scott James. “Where our roast­ery dif­fers from oth­ers is that it’s com­pletely ac­ces­si­ble. We want to show­case the whole of spe­cial­ity cof­fee, right the way through from roast­ery to prepa­ra­tion.”

In­de­pen­dent cof­fee roast­ers Coal­town started life in the shed be­long­ing to the founder’s par­ents.

Back then founder Scott, who was just a teenager at the time, was roast­ing cof­fee us­ing a home­made piece of kit that his dad knocked up us­ing re­pur­posed ma­te­ri­als.

The roaster’s fan used to be housed in a Ford KA.

Since then, Coal­town has be­come a global brand, and is now call­ing Foundry Road in Am­man­ford home.

Coal­town em­ploys 20 peo­ple and was re­cently named one of the best places in the world for a cof­fee.

And this new 4,000sq ft roast­ery is huge com­pared to its last place.

It has taken just over a year to re­fur­bish the site, and Scott ex­plains that the old roast­ery was around a quar­ter of the size.

Scott, now 25 years old, has seen his small cof­fee busi­ness ex­pand mas­sively, but he is keen to keep it rooted in the heart of his home­town.

The com­pany has sold cof­fee all over the world - New York, Tai­wan, Aus­tralia, for ex­am­ple – but to the owner and founder, it is im­por­tant to give back to Am­man­ford.

Coal­town al­ready has an es­presso bar just down the road, in one of the town’s shop­ping ar­cades.

It is a small, but wellde­signed cof­fee shop, that seems to be a hit with the lo­cals. But that isn’t enough for Scott.

Once the roast­ery is up and run­ning, there are plans to run a cof­fee academy, which he says he is hop­ing to launch in Jan­uary. He is look­ing to train peo­ple in all things cof­fee, be­fore help­ing them find work in the in­dus­try.

“My life has changed since I was 18 or 19 – I kind of grew with the com­pany and so has ev­ery­one else,” said Scott.

And that’s im­por­tant to him – he wants to see peo­ple change and de­velop.

“The academy is hap­pen­ing in Jan­uary,” Scott said. “All the train­ing is done here [on the train­ing es­presso ma­chine] and when they are ready we will re­lease them onto the es­presso bar with a barista.

“They are with us for six months and then once they have got to a cer­tain level, we let them pass on to our whole­sale clients as trained baris­tas.”

He adds: “It is a life­style as well as a job and we are ab­so­lutely pas­sion­ate about bring­ing peo­ple in and giv­ing them pur­pose and find­ing some­thing they re­ally en­joy.

“Even the academy mem­bers, if they don’t love cof­fee, they at least get the abil­ity to learn peo­ple skills and con­fi­dence in them­selves.

“It’s a great com­mu­nity and in­dus­try and peo­ple re­ally love it. And it’s great to see that.

“That sense of com­mu­nity is hugely im­por­tant to Scott, and some­thing he wants to nur­ture in Am­man­ford.

The new roast­ery is es­sen­tially split into two sec­tions. There’s the cof­fee-drink­ing part, and the cof­fee-roast­ing part.

The pub­lic will be able to see the pro­duc­tion in mo­tion, from the com­fort of a stool around ei­ther the es­presso bar or the V60 (that’s a type of pourover fil­ter cof­fee brew method) sta­tion.

“Es­sen­tially, what you usu­ally find, is the roast­ers and baris­tas are quite sep­a­rated in the in­dus­try,” said Scott. “We want to try and bring those to­gether. Unify those two roles.”

And us­ing high-end, lat­est in­no­va­tions is some­thing Coal­town are re­ally keen to do. The bet­ter the tech­nol­ogy, whether that’s roast­ing or brew­ing, the bet­ter the cof­fee, af­ter all.

“So what we have got is two bars side-by-side,” Scot ex­plains. “We’ve got es­presso prepa­ra­tion and a pour-over bar. We want to try to show­case the most up-to-date cof­fee tech­nol­ogy.”

At the es­presso bar, the cof­fee ma­chine looks like a sin­gle tap – but it is ac­tu­ally a spe­cial­ist piece of kit. It is called a Mod­bar ABR, and it is a mod­u­lar un­der-counter es­presso ma­chine, mean­ing all the clunky stuff is hid­den and cus­tomers see ex­actly what the barista is do­ing.

It’s the first one in Wales and sec­ond in the UK.

The V60 sta­tion will see cus­tomers sat around the “semi-re­tired” 12kg roaster that Coal­town used in their old roast­ery.

It will still be in use and cus­tomers will have freshly roasted and cooled cof­fee beans in their pour overs.

And while that roaster is in semi-re­tire­ment, Coal­town’s new jewel in the crown is the Pro­bat UG75 roaster that can roast 75kg of cof­fee an hour and was built in 1958.

“They don’t make roast­ers like this any­more,” Scott tells me, be­fore pas­sion­ately ex­plain­ing how

Pic­ture: Jonathan My­ers ev­ery piece of the ma­chine works.

It is mostly all con­structed from cast iron, which is rare. It also helps roast the per­fect cof­fee, along with all the other tech­ni­cal fea­tures that to the av­er­age per­son would prob­a­bly mean very lit­tle.

But this roaster wasn’t cheap. It is a rare bit of kit; some­thing that Scott and his team have been try­ing to get their hands on for a while.

It cost £120,000.

At the mo­ment, Coal­town roasts 6-700ki­los of cof­fee a week. But with its new kit, there is plenty of room for this to grow.

And that cof­fee is bagged within an hour of be­ing roasted and dis­trib­uted to whole­sale cus­tomers within a day. So it is a fairly quick turn­around of cof­fee.

When asked what day to day life is like at a cof­fee roaster’s, Scott laughs: “I wish there was a rou­tine!”

He adds: “We start su­per early in the morn­ing and we have pro­duc­tion sched­ules. On dif­fer­ent Coal­town days of the week we have dif­fer­ent sched­ules for dif­fer­ent lots. All the cof­fees we have are sea­sonal. My role is quite var­ied be­cause mine isn’t a pro­duc­tion roaster role – it’s sales – but it is also green cof­fee pro­cure­ment as well.

“So we do a lot of cup­ping, [cup­ping is the fancy term for tast­ing the cof­fee] to see what we want to source. We do that twothree times a week.

“We don’t hold stock here. Ev­ery­thing you see on the shelves is from this week. That will be gone by to­mor­row. That’s quite spe­cial. Hav­ing this out­let we can sell to peo­ple and they can see it.

“It is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent here, with the pub­lic com­ing in, but we will try to keep it quite sep­a­rate.”

Scott’s al­ways been into cof­fee. Grow­ing up, his par­ents ran a cafe and he says that is where his caf­feinated love af­fair started.

“I was brought up on cof­fee, in my par­ents’ cafe,” Scott said, adding: “I just loved it.

“I saw my first roaster when I was nine and I have ended up buy­ing it. I got it for pos­ter­ity. It was the first roaster I had ever seen. It’s just nice to have.”

Back when Scott set up Coal­town in 2011, he said the cof­fee scene in Wales was dire.

But he says it has come on mas­sively over the last few years, though he ad­mits he still wants to change Wales’s at­ti­tude to cof­fee.

“I want to bring the Lon­don scene to Wales, 100%, and that’s what we’re very pas­sion­ate about,” he said.

“The de­sign and style of the roast­ery is very Brook­lyn, Shored­itch-ori­en­tated. That’s what I want, peo­ple to come here and go, ‘Eh?’, ‘What?’.

“We want to break down the bar­ri­ers with cof­fee and de­mys­tify the whole in­dus­try re­ally.”

Scott James, founder and owner of Coal­town Cof­fee Roast­ers

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