Meet the Makers ~ Round Hill Coffee Roastery

We are really keen to find a reasonably local coffee wholesaler for The Foodie Bugle Shop, and we were recommended Round Hill Coffee by our friends Jane and Adrian Campbell-Howard of Society Café.

A visit to the Round Hill roasting warehouse, on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Radstock, Somerset, is an educational and informative experience – allowing potential new food shop and café owners to buy just the right coffee beans for their customers.

Owner and head roaster Eddie Twichett and his co-worker Mike Gamwell provided us advice on everything from which grinders, water boilers and equipment to buy as well as telling us how to make sure we serve the best seasonal coffees in their prime. The fruits of their labour are now stocked in the very best cafes and coffee shops in and around the region.

During our visit Eddie set out a number of coffees for cupping – this is the method by which professional coffee roasters taste coffees in their most unmanipulated way to detect the subtleties and nuances of flavour – there is no filtration, no pressure, no straining and even no swallowing.

The coffee grounds are brewed for just four minutes and then the crust layer at the top is broken with spoon. The taster tastes just a small amount of coffee, swills it round the mouth and spits it in a cup. Just like wine tasting – very unglamorous and, we were told, very much a male dominated world.

On the coffee flavour wheel they are looking for flavours that span across the citrus – tangy – floral – fruity arc. The green beans have a very leguminous aroma, a bit like fava beans, but once roasted they take on a rich and flavoursome taste – our Kenyan flat white was delicious, served in a small cup with a tiny dash of milk.

Eddie founded Round Hill just two years ago and the growth of the company has been remarkable, riding the surging interest in artisan, specialty, seasonal coffees. Although the coffee market in the UK is worth around £6 billion of turnover a year, the market for specialty coffees is just a small percentage of that, probably 5%-10%, but the figure is growing year on year. There are underlying cool hipster connotations that tinge the industry’s image, but on the continent and in Australia {Mike’s homeland} the love of great coffee is not about gimmickry, it’s about knowledge and passion. Britain is following this example and this has sparked an interest that is sure to rise and develop.

Just as consumers are now much more aware of the food they eat, and the seasons in which produce is grown and harvested, so they are becoming more discerning and selective about their coffee.

Round Hill roasts coffee beans harvested in late summer from around Christmas to June, and more northern hemisphere coffees from June onwards. They are particularly excited about coffees from Rwanda and Burundi, and are plotting trips to visit specially picked farms and mills. They work with partner importers to ensure the whole process is fair, ethical and sustainable.

They produce information sheets that show the origins of each espresso and filter coffee: the farm, region, varietal, process, owner, altitude and importer are all listed, as well as brew notes. They only keep small amounts of stock, preferring to roast and sell smaller, fresher batches for their growing list of wholesale independent business customers. They are also plotting an e-commerce website, to sell speciality coffee beans online.

Although the warehouse roastery is not open to the public, on Saturdays they have a stall at Bath Farmers Market in Green Park Station where you can taste and buy their selection. You can follow Eddie and Mike on Twitter @roundhillcoffee and on Instagram @roundhillroastery but be warned, they are very busy doing what they love most – buying, roasting and selling great coffees. Their popularity is growing by word of mouth and customer recommendation – leaving little time for online marketing. But that is good news for all coffee lovers.

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