Roundhill Roastery, Radstock near Bath, UK

“If there is one roaster at the moment that I am taking my hat off to, it is Eddie. He has set up a roastery on his own from scratch and is producing some amazing roasts. Doing what he’s doing  - it takes some balls” David Faulkner, Extract Coffee.

If you run a business who prides itself on sniffing out roasters, this is the kind of comment that makes your ears prick up. As I have said before, the good roasters talk well about each other and I have heard about Eddie from a couple of people in the trade so I was keen to get to meet him.

I never need an excuse to drive through the British country side so a trip down to Radstock near Bath was soon undertaken to go and meet the man that built a roastery on his own, and have some serious coffee peeps talking about him in the short space of a year and a half.

Quick Profile:

Name: Edward Twichett
Been roasting since: 2012
Learnt to roast on a: Probatone 12, Giesen W15 and W1
Now roasting on: Giesen W15 and W1
I drink: Espresso
Favourite coffee: Karagoto AB Kenya Espresso, roasted by Ben Presland at Tate Roastery
My home brewing secret: Ashbeck Still Water from Tesco

 

Eddie, I have been hearing great things about your coffee from a couple of people. Tell us how your love for coffee developed.

I casually started frequenting my local coffee shop in Bath, Colonna & Smalls as a customer. As time went by, I found the progression from “I like coffee” to becoming truly besotted with tasting different coffees quite quickly. Given the amount of time spent at the coffee house,  I befriended co-owners, Maxwell and Lesley Colonna-Dashwood and he became a great facilitator for my love of coffee.

So, at this point you still had no roasting experience or coffee pedigree?

Nope. Just a customer, turned regular at my local coffee shop.
I completed my Business management degree in 2010 but knew that I didn’t see myself in an office and a suit every day. My interest has always been in food and front of house service and my college training before Uni was as a pastry chef. So, after Uni, I started working as a waiter at the Pump Room in Bath whilst drinking copious amounts of coffee from Maxwell.

It is quite a serious leap to go from coffee enthusiast to coffee roaster. Was it a natural progression or was there a moment where you went “This is what I want to do”?

I remember sitting in the shop one day, having an Ethiopian Shakiso, expecting coffee but finding strawberries. I guess it’ll be silly to attribute a career changing decision to a single cup of coffee as I’m sure subconciously there was a natural progression towards roasting going on, but this was the moment when the penny just dropped.

So the decision was made, but how did you then become a roaster?

Well the first step was to learn how to be a good barista. I did barista courses with Maxwell and made sure I understood how to make a good coffee. Then I did roasting courses with Morten Munchow and Ben Townsend at the London School of Coffee. And most importantly, I tasted lots and lots of coffees!

In June 2012, I rented an industrial unit in Radstock and spent ALL, and I mean ALL, my savings on a roaster and sample roaster in a single purchase.

I ordered some green beans and practised constantly for a month to get my roasting profile right. I then bought a couple of coffees that I loved and roasted them over and over while tasting each batch until I was happy with what I have produced.

Wow, that is really putting yourself in a position where failure is not an option. How did you make your first sale and how are you getting your name out there?

I started roasting in June and in July, I sold my first batch to No. 35 Coffee House in Dorset after they came across Roundhill on Twitter. In late July I had my 1st contract with Society Cafe in Bath. It is really satisfying to work with coffee shops that take preparation of their coffees seriously. For example, working closely with Society Cafe, seeing them expand and more recently setting up an Aeropress bar recently, is truly rewarding. I also  supply to Colonna & Smalls, the place where my coffee journey started.

A place I get to talk to customers directly is at my local farmer’s market that I have been going to since October. Some of the people that buy from me there, now buys from me exclusively and each month they come back with a story or something they have learnt about making coffee. This makes me really happy to see consumers getting more and more involved in the process of preparing their coffee.

You mentioned Maxwell a fair bit. How did he influence your move into coffee?

Maxwell is the co-owner of Colonna & Smalls and has a vast knowledge of all things coffee related (Maxwell is the 2012 UK Barista champion  and was also a finalist at the World Barista championships in the same year). He taught me how to taste coffee and identify what variables impacts on the tastes. His passion thirst for knowledge is contagious and I think you can learn a great deal from being a customer in a speciality barista’s coffee shop as they normally enjoy teaching about their process to make such high quality coffee.

Let’s talk kit. I see over your shoulder there a name that I haven’t came across in other roasteries yet. Tell me about the roaster you use and how you chose it.

Based on the recommendation of Ben Presland, who at I met durning my roasting course at The London Coffee School, I flew to Holland and met Wilfred and Marc who run Giesen Coffee Roasters. As the sales team are also engineers, I felt that I would be well supported in the future, as I am not an engineer! The Giesen W15 has lots of fantastic features such as variable air flow, ten step burner and variable drum speed this gives me more control over the coffee I am roasting.

Talking of small and personal. All the other roasters I have been to have a team of people running them. Roundhill roastery is currently made up of the grand total of “Eddie”. How do you cope with that?

I run on a six day week:

Monday – Roast filter profiles and plan my roast schedule

Tuesday – Wednesday: Roast espresso profiles

Thursday – Friday: Sales, customer support and training

Saturday: Sell straight to the public at my local farmer’s market

Training baristas is a very important part of what I do to ensure that they get the best out of each batch of coffee I supply to them.

Talk us through your training approach.

Each barista comes and spend half a day here at the roastery. We focus on three aspects of coffee:

Cupping – I feel that cupping is the best way to engage in conversation with customers about flavour. This is why we always start training with a cupping.
Roasting – I roast a batch with the baristas so they can have a better insight into my input into the chain from farm to cup.
Brewing – The part of the process mostly associated with the barista. Learning about brew ratios and “dialing in” concludes their training. Oh and Latte art!

What about being involved in coffee do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy the roasting as it affords me with the opportunity to be involved with the whole process of transforming the green bean into something customers will remember. But, given my love for front of house and service, I enjoy being a barista and will go and do a couple of hours at a clients shop as it gives me a chance to be involved with their baristas and their customers.

Lastly Eddie, how will you describe your roasting style?

I don’t think I have been roasting long enough to be adhering to any kind of style yet. A lot of it is about testing and tasting until I get an end product that I’m proud to let others try. I do however find myself drawn to the Scandinavian style of roasting which I guess can be described as, well, lighter. I never really thought about it, but looking back, I guess I can see some commonalities in the coffees I have chosen up until now. The coffees I choose have a bold acidity with a sweet middle and normally quite a citrus, floral and/or red fruit note.

We conclude the interview and then Eddie says out of the blue. “I’m going to name my next espresso blend after my favourite record. Let me show you the video quickly”. We go up into his office and he shows me a track by Norwegian Producer Todd Terje.

Eddie then goes on to say something I haven’t heard before from any other roasters but it makes perfect sense to me. “I am very fond of music and I associate certain tastes very strongly with sound and the moods they create”. I don’t think I frowned but Eddie went on. “Now it may sound weird but let me explain. If you sit down in a good restaurant with a glass of red wine, that red wine will taste completely different than it would whilst you’re leaning up against a speaker in a night club. In the club you’d be happy to be knocking back a Red Stripe but you wouldn’t be wanting that with your dinner in the restaurant, would you? For me music massively impacts on appreciation of flavour and I often find a balance of the two draws it all together. I am sourcing a coffee which matches the vibe of the track. The track is called Inspector Norse - its sounds are big, bouncy and bold!

I listen to Eddie’s theory and then I listen to the track still playing. I like it. It is humorous, understated and slightly cheeky. Definitely a coffee to be looking out for.

The Roundhill Roastery website is still being worked on, but you can follow Eddie’s exciting progress via Twitter.

What is BlankBox coffee?

One box. Two UK roasted coffees. Through your mailbox, each month. Learn more.