Here goes........ (you may need a coffee).......
I started roasting my own coffee a couple of years ago as this was the next step in my quest to be drinking the best coffee available to me. I have always enjoyed good coffee and progressed from buying ground coffee and brewing in a cafetiere, then on to buying whole beans and using a grinder, then improving the quality of the grinder and the brewing equipment and then on to home roasting. When I started roasting the idea was to buy the green coffee in reasonable quantities and offer some of the roasted coffee to friends and family, to cover the costs of my personal consumption. This soon escalated to selling to people living locally to me and the feedback I received was all very positive and soon had built up many regular customers all 'addicted' to the coffee I was producing. Up until last summer I had worked for the same company since I was 15 ( 25 years in total), but they had a few issues and the threat of redundancy and changes to management loomed and eventually I took voluntary redundancy. This was only made an easier decision as my hobby of roasting coffee was something we thought could be made into a small business that would be able to support us. This was something my wife and I had talked about doing in the future as she is studying to be a midwife and once she had qualified we were going to give it a go, but that came sooner than expected!. We invested my redundancy package into ' Thistledown Cottage Coffee' and gave ourselves a target of 6 months to be making enough to support us, if it never worked out after that I would go and get a 'proper' job. We stuck with 'top end' hobbyist equipment so as not to break the bank and have been pushing that to the max and am happy to say that we are in the process of investing and increasing the equipment I use to more commercial grade which will allow us to produce the same quality coffee but on a larger scale, reducing 'man' hours allowing me to attend extra markets and produce enough coffee to supply some local coffee houses/cafe's with their own blends of coffee making them stand out from their completion. As I have said I am a firm believer in buying locally, my local coffee house advertises that they use our coffee and that is produced/blended exclusively for them just a couple of miles up the road, that's what I like to see.
I have always liked the thought of going to farmers markets and for many years we have bought as much produce as possible from local, smaller suppliers, but with my previous job I had always worked Saturdays so it was not very often that I was able to go to the markets. Now I am at them every week and loving every minute of it, the produce from small, local companies are generally made by people with a passion for what they do and this reflects in the quality of what they are making.
For me I am happy to keep it a small company, I work from home which is the best thing I have ever done. I get to spend more time with my family and get to see my 2 young boys growing up. I adore selling at Farmers Markets as I could talk about coffee all day and I get to do this face to face with the people who buy my coffee, I also learn a lot from my customers as they all have coffee 'experiences' that they enjoy sharing.
We are all about providing fresh coffee, mostly single origin coffee from around the world, nothing is roasted in mass quantities and is either roasted to order for on-line sales or the previous week for farmers markets, it really is about me producing the best coffee possible and passing that on to my customers. This is why I keep the selection of coffee's small, so I can really get to know the coffee's and get the best out of them. Although I can see us expanding over the next few years, this philosophy will not change, I am not interested in producing tonnes of inferior quality coffee to make more money and to be honest I would not want to get to the point where I would have to move to a unit/shop as I enjoy working from home too much.
I enjoy attending the great farmers markets that Suffolk/Norfolk have to offer, and meeting new faces. My coffee is now available in Farm Shop's and local cafes and sales are growing each month which is great to see, and I hope this continues as I am truely a coffee nut and LOVE my job!
Well, if your still awake (lol) I hope you enjoy our coffee.