How long has Lindfield coffee works been up and running?
Lindfield Coffee Works has been trading at its current site for 2 ½ years now . I took the previous business over a year before that and before that they had been roasting in Lindfield since 1994 so its well and truly part of Lindfields history!
What got you into coffee? Is it something you’ve always been into.
I’ve always been interested in coffee and have always consumed it. I used to work in the spirits industry before and discovered many similarities across both industries. We also used coffee as an ingredient in cocktails so I’ve always been inquisitive of it !
Have you always had a passion for coffee?
Yes, ever since I started being a consumer of it . The more I read the more I was fascinated. I have a passion for most of the drinks industry as a whole.
What would you say drives you?
On the roastery side I’d say continuously looking to improve our coffee roasting and developing our profiles , sourcing responsibly , sustainable, interesting & high grade coffee . On the coffee bar side I love seeing our customers enjoying our space and taking more and more of an interest in the distinct flavours of coffee and choosing coffee by origin.
What aspects of the coffee industry excite you, frustrate you…
There are so many aspects of the coffee industry that excite me from sourcing green coffee both through our wholesale partner and direct with our trade partners in Colombia. Experimenting with different processing techniques like black honey , fermentation and how improving practices at farm level can have a real impact on taste. The innovation in roast profiling and the more and more information out there on this . This was a frustration when I first started out was the lack of info out there meant it was a case of trial and error . Roast , taste , tweak, roast, taste, tweak and on and on – all the time not knowing if we were doing it the ‘correct’ way. Everything along the coffee chain from growing, farming processing to milling , shipping, sourcing , roasting and finally producing a delicious cup of coffee excite me . Every stage of this has to be really taken care of and thought about and can have a real impact on final taste. I’m not sure there are many industries quite like this. Another frustration is the final price for a cup of coffee and the disparity with say a Gin & Tonic in a bar. Having seen how much goes into getting coffee to us here in the Uk and with the roasting and making of the coffee I believe there is so much more care and attention that needs to be made for coffee yet its sometimes 3 or 4 times less of a price. Coffee is still seen as a commodity product where I don’t think , specialty coffee should be.
Do you get the opportunity to source direct from the farmers
Yes we buy from 3 farms in Colombia from the region of Antioquia which is a renowned coffee growing region . Buying direct allows us to have two way dialogue with the farmers and provide real time feedback . If we can tell our customers when the coffee was picked , which variety it was , if it was shade grown , how it was processed and at which altitude this gives us and them confidence it’s been well farmed and cared for along the supply chain.
How bigs your team, can you tell us a little more about them?
Our team is currently 11 and we wouldn’t be able to do this without them . We have amazingly talented , multi skilled team that all input towards what we do . As well as being a co-manager , phoebe manages all our social media and in house marketing . She is just 21 and has a bright future in front of her ! Sunni is the head barista and is the account manager for our wholesale customers and leads all our trainings . Miranda is our roaster and we now are roasting 4-5 times per week and I am taking on more of this role too now as I develop my roasting skills. We have an events manager now too as this is a growing side of the business – Helen looks after this side of things expertly as well as working shifts on our coffee bar. Vic (our co-manager), Antonia , suzy , beth , emma , ethinie and amber make up the rest of the team and their passion for what they do makes doing this job so easy. The whole team contributes across the board and any ideas for new menus / events etc is listened to and implemented – I think that’s what makes it a nice place to work – no one is just a barista they can get involved as much as they want to – if you are passionate about what you do then anyone can do anything .
What side of the business do you enjoy the most?
There are many aspects of the business I enjoy from roasting coffee and experimenting with recipes for our coffee and testing different methods to brew it . However what I’m enjoying most currently is working directly with the farms in Colombia . To be able to be involved at this level is both exciting and humbling . We have two-way direct communication regarding specific processing methods and can be involved in experimenting with different processes like fermentation and naturally drying the coffee in certain ways (honey, black honey etc) . The farms are very remote and pose real challenge to get coffee down the mountain and it’s very labor intensive & hard work . They lead very simple lives . It’s very rewarding because to see the hard work and go that extra mile to produce a quality coffee and in turn reward them with a far higher price than they would if they sold via a cooperative- to do so really makes it worthwhile and encourages farmers to produce quality coffee over quantity.
Where do you see yourself and the business in 5 years?
I don’t like to plan too far ahead but know we should but this industry changes so quickly it’s difficult to imagine . I hope we will still be producing and supplying even more wholesale customers and educating them on specialty coffee. Another coffee bar would be nice in a similar location to what we have in lindfield . I hope we are still working with our farms in Colombia and really gained some new knowledge and skills in farming coffee between us . And I hope the consumer is more aware about specialty coffee industry and there’s a move away from instant at least which we are seeing now !
Do you feel you’ve created a specialty coffee scene in lindfield now?
I wouldn’t say we have created a specialty scene in Lindfield . We are still very behind the likes of London and Brighton and even as a roaster / coffee bar I wouldn’t call us ‘specialty’ per sey . We source from the specialty industry and have the same principles and values as a specialty roaster but we need to remember who our customers are and what they want . I can see the gap widening between real specialty roasters and more ‘ mainstream ‘ roasters like ourselves . As long as we are sourcing high quality coffees responsibly and making good quality coffees that our customers love and take some interest in then that is enough for me and a ‘scene’ I guess will follow . I think lindfield is really becoming interested in coffee and hopefully this is just the start !
It’s an incredible space you’ve created here, is it how you imagined it.
Yes absolutely we couldn’t be happier . We’ve tweaked things from when we first opened but think it’s nearly finished ! We really wanted it to feel like you were walking into a working coffee roastery and not to be another usual coffee shop.
Where’s your favorite coffee shop?
Raw coffee roasters in Dublin first gave me the idea and inspiration for our site but I do not get to go there that much . Closer to home I’d say ozone coffee in London and caravan in kings cross . And all our wholesale customers shops 😉
I love your branding, how did that come about.
My now good friend Will Parr does all our branding / menu design / murals / sign writing etc and has done an amazing job . He approached me when we first took over the previous business . He typically designs alcohol brands but wanted a coffee in his portfolio and as we were on a budget he really helped us out ! I think we are ready for a little refresh as we evolve as a roaster so will Will definitely be involved in this !
How did the relationship with the cycling team come about?
We supply Dan at n+1 cycle cafe and Dan approached us with the idea of starting a team. We loved Dan’s passion, vision and values he had for the team so it wasn’t even a consideration whether to be involved or not . Cycling and coffee is also a perfect mix and are synonymous so we liked the association and hope we can build on the amazing work Dan and the team have achieved in such a small space of time . We can’t wait to see what’s next and would love to still be involved as they and us grow !
Are we likely to see you out training soon
No I look too bad in Lycra . I would love to and am now taking more of an interest in cycling the more and more people I meet involved in cycling so its only a matter of time .
Images courtesy of Breakaway Digital