This year has certainly brought some huge surprises and we have all had to adapt our way of doing things. The way we work, the way we shop, the way we socialise with friends and family. Some people used to commute to work 5 days-a-week but now simply get up at 8.55am and wander over to their new desk in the dining room. Personally, I have gone from working as a barista, a trainer and support for our wholesale coffee customers to a home grocery delivery driver. Although this wasn’t a role I expected to be performing I have embraced the change, accepting the new challenges and enjoying the variation that each day brings.
Above: Proud to serve Witney and surrounding areas some of the finest local and artisan produce. Straight to the doorstep of those unable to leave the safety of their homes during lockdown.
We are one of many members of the hospitality industry whose very existence became threatened by this year’s events. The options were very clear; close our doors and hope that there would be something to salvage if and when ‘everything goes back to normal’ or take control of the situation and adapt to the new world as circumstances changed. Being the tenacious organisation that we are, there was never really a choice to make. Hopefully this acts as a bit of an insight into some of the changes that we will be making.
What we used to do...
Since our inception in 2009, wood-roasting coffee has been the heart of what we do. We are the first and only artisan coffee roasters in the UK to use this method and this is how we have roasted the great coffee that we have loved and shared with our loyal customers and local community ever since. This design was developed by Ue Coffee’s founders and works slightly differently to most wood-roasters that exist elsewhere.
Above: One of our 15kg wood roasters in full flow. A nice corner to work in on those cold winter days.
Here at Ue Coffee Roasters we pride ourselves on our continuous desire to improve in every aspect of what we do. Some areas in which we have already made some tremendous progress include sustainability and professional training for our staff.
A large part of continuous improvement in the specialty coffee industry involves keeping up-to-date with the best equipment and technology. This is something that our customers will have noticed walking into our Witney high street café and coming face-to-face with one of La Marzocco’s latest developments in espresso brewing.
Over the last few months we have begun to introduce more traditional specialist roasting methods alongside our old faithful wood roaster. This allows us to be innovative and remain up to date with the industry as technology advances and the science of coffee roasting offers more control and insight into the roasting process. We have brought in the latest gas-powered roasters from like-minded Dutch company, Giesen all of which are powered using green gas and green electric. They share our quality and innovation values and as such their roasting equipment is of the highest standard and craftsmanship. We have found that the gas roasters offer much more control over the variable aspects of roasting and compared with our wood-powered machines we can now track much more of what is happening inside the roaster with regards to air temperature, bean temperature, air flow and a lot more. Having this information available means our head roaster Aaron who is a fully qualified coffee Q Grader, can make changes throughout any particular roast to ensure that the beans go through the right stages of roast development. We are then also able to assess the data when tasting and see where improvements in the roast profile can be made to achieve the best tasting coffee.
Above: The Giesen WPG1 lab roaster sitting in front of our W30 - our largest roaster. Features include the loading hopper, control tower, large cooling tray and de-stoner. A typical graph of a roast profile showing bean temperature and rate of rise.
Of course, there are other producers of coffee roasting equipment available and making the decision to invest in a particular roaster one that requires serious thought. We have chosen to use Giesen roasters for a number of reasons. Firstly, like us, they are a family-run business, originally metal ware producers including for other roaster-producing companies. They started making their own machines around the time we started roasting coffee as they came to realise that there were major improvements that could be made to current products on the market. We know what absolute devotion goes into making an artisan business successful and the quality of their product reflects that hard work and dedication.
Secondly, their range of equipment allows us to roast anything from 250 grams to 30 kilograms of coffee per batch so we can roast-to-order and know that each bag of coffee we send out contains beans that have had the same care and attention to quality. This also allows us to be more efficient when roasting as we have the ability to roast tiny 50g batches in our lab roaster to assess the quality of beans at different roast levels before moving onto the larger roasters. We now have three of their machines WPG1 lab roaster, W15 small batch and micro lot roaster and our W30 for large scale speciality coffee roasting. With all roasters on show offering our customers a mesmerising array of equipment visible through the glass doors into our main roastery area.
Most importantly, unlike others in the local market, Giesen’s machines offer us the level of control that we need in order to produce the artisanal speciality coffee that we know and love. Many new or smaller scale roasteries choose to use highly automated systems and can be operated by those with little skill and not necessarily with the best results. We are proud to utilise the extensive expertise and experience of our team to produce amazing coffee that our customers keep coming back for.
At the start of 2020 we had big plans in place for things like sustainability, improving on our existing products and launching new lines. These are still very much ongoing goals but the way in which we get there may have adapted slightly. Part of this adaptation is the move away from our wood-roasting heritage. You can see why we’re not afraid of the changes ahead. It means we can continue to improve our products and grow as a team. We still have the same beliefs in doing the best for our local community and that we can be more sustainable moving forward. And we still have the same values; as true artisans we are constantly working on improvements in quality and consistency with each of our coffees.
Come and see for yourself, we are always working on something new and would love the opportunity to share it with you.