Will and Caroline and the star roaster
A new listing in Waitrose for its own-roasted connoisseur capsules, grounds and beans is expected to triple turnover to £500,000 in the coming months for the artisan business founded by husband Will Little and his wife Caroline.
Their mission is to unleash deliciousness and “make exceptional coffees more available to customers,” came about after questioning the almost non-existent choice on the shelves of mainstream retailers.
“As we wondered why it was so difficult to buy ethically sourced, properly roasted coffee there, despite it growing in popularity in cafes, we realised there was the opening for a business,” they explain.
That led them to roasting sample batches and being taken up first by Whole Foods and Harvey Nichols, then a ground Expresso for M&S and now Waitrose where their development of new Nespresso compatible pods along with ground and bean packs proved the clincher.
Coffee is the world’s second most traded commodity after oil. Speciality varieties, produced in remote microclimates by smaller farms and co-operatives, compose just five per cent of the market.
That makes them rare and now in a position where demand is outstripping supply. However for a small company like Roastworks in this sector there is also the advantage of fewer price fluctuations to contend with.
Good roasting highlights the intrinsic qualities imparted by different growing regions
The business, part of the ‘third wave’ coffee movement that encourages coffee to be viewed as an artisan ingredient like cheese or wine, sources its premium fruits through importers trading with 12 hand-picked producers from the likes of Sumatra, Ethiopia and Colombia.
“The predetermined pricing enables farmers to pay their workers more and invest,” says Will, 33, whose comes from a family of coffee suppliers and still runs one of the businesses alongside Roastworks on its sites in Devon.
“Coffee doesn’t like direct sun so the best is grown in shade among a lot of trees and shrubs, preserving bio diversity,” he explains. “Our coffee cherries come from lands where over 50 per cent is dedicated to indigenous species.”
Will and Caroline flavour testing
Roasting, the next part of the journey to cup, is a skilled science that can be the making or breaking of a bean.
“Good roasting highlights the intrinsic qualities…