About 5 minutes walk from their cafe in Broadway Market, in an industrial unit, I find a motley crew of bearded men carrying heavy bags, packing boxes and weighing bags on scales. The one with the most tattoos are working a large industrial looking machine whilst constantly making what looks like very technical notes.
If Guy Richie was antipodean, this would be a scene out of his movie. Although, unlike in Lock Stock and Two Smoking barrels, these guys pack friendly smiles in between their work. You can see that they take their roasting seriously and you can taste it when you put your mouth to the cup.
I met with a very busy Danny Davies, general manager of Climpson & Sons at their roastery. Running around, as managers do, to get everything done before he goes on holiday, he answered some questions for BlankBox whilst sorting out a delivery for a customer.
Name: Danny Davies
Been roasting since: 2000
Learnt to roast on a: Custom hand built 8kg roaster
Now roasting on a: Probat 25 kg
I drink: White wine and, strangely enough, coffee
Favourite coffee: Changes with the coffee season but the Panama Geisha from Hacienda La Esmeralda
My coffee party trick:
My home brewing secret: Don’t use tap water.
Danny, how did Climpson & Sons start?
After living in Australia for five years, founder Ian Burgess struggled to find a good cup of coffee upon his return to London so he decided to start a coffee stall at Barnes Market. After changing his coffee stall locations a couple of times, he found Climpson & Sons in 2005 in it’s current location in Broadway Market. He bought a small 3kg Whitmee and starting roasting his own blends in the shop. As demand for his coffees grew, he upgraded to a Toper 15kg.
But Ian’s surname is Burgess, why did he call it “Climpson” and Sons?
Originally, the shop used to be a butcher. Ian thought it would be cool to keep the same name!
When and how did you join Ian then?
Back in the day, I used to supply him with green beans and we always got along well and had a shared love for coffee. I went over to Melbourne for a while and when I returned in 2010, I joined the Climpson gang as general manager.
Tell us a little bit more about your own coffee experience.
I trained and worked as a barista in my native New Zealand for a couple of years and then came to London. Wanting to learn more about roasting, I started working for a roaster and soon I was learning how to roast on a custom hand built 8kg roaster. I then went to Melbourne for a while and had the opportunity to roast on a much larger scale using a 60kg roaster.
How would you say the coffee scene has changed since back then? Is it much different?
It has definitely changed a lot. Back then it was all “eyes and ears”. You were constantly listening for the crack, and did colour matching of beans to get consistency in your roasts. Today it is much more technical with each variable being measured and recorded to ensure a consistent roast that, in turn, leads to much higher quality coffee.
How would you suggest introducing coffee to non-coffee drinkers?
I have converted many a non believer by introducing them to a good Turkish coffee first. Done right, it is easy to drink and given that it’s traditionally served sweet, makes it a good introduction method. Personally, I think Turkish coffee is highly underrated.
Given that you have made coffee as a barista, roasts coffee and also run a coffee business, is there any part of the industry that interests you in particular?
I enjoy tasting and roasting to get the best out of each coffee we decide to buy, but at the moment I’m really interested to learn more about the processing of coffee at it’s source. Except for choosing varietals and tending the trees with great care, the farmers have a huge impact on the green bean through how they choose to process the cherries. Processing roughly falls within two categories; Natural and washed. Depending on which process is used, different flavours and levels of sweetness are accentuated.
So I assume a holiday in an exotic country in the name of “research” is on the cards then?
Definitely! In February I’ll be visiting South East Asia to see what coffees they have. All in the name of research, of course.
Want to go and try their coffee at their cafe? Have a look at the Climpson & Sons website for details and directions.