How do you differentiate between a good and a bad coffee?
The quality of bean, the freshness…when it was roasted? We recommend drinking your coffee within three months of roasting. Also the style of roasting, we roast light to medium, which helps to showcase each coffee’s individual flavours and taste profile. Good coffee wouldn’t need sugar too.
How do you source your beans? Do you have a personal favourite?
We source our green coffee (un-roasted, raw coffee) from a handful of green coffee importers. These guys work directly with the coffee farmers to ensure that their coffees are high quality (specialty grade) and help the farmers to improve their skills, so they can archive higher prices. Our coffees are classed as Specialty Grade, which refers to the highest quality green coffee beans with a score of 83 plus on a 100 point scale, when graded according to SCAA Standards. At the moment I’m enjoying our exclusive coffee from El Salvador.
You’ve won several awards for your work, what’s the key to your success?
Hard work, always wanting to improve and to keep pushing our quality of products and service. We are a small business and we work together as a team.
How has the coffee scene changed since you started in 2000?
Yes massively! Back then it was all about the Italian style cafe culture, dark roasted beans with a bitter aftertaste. Which did not have a roast date or described where the coffee came from. Now people’s taste and opinions towards coffee has changed. A bit like the beer industry with the craft beer emerging, with different styles and produced in small batches by independent businesses. The same goes for the “third wave coffee” movement, which is all about roasting high quality coffees that are fruity, floral and seasonal. And of course fully traceable.
You also offer barista training, do you think it can sometimes be an undervalued skill?
Yes, the career of the barista in Italy is a very well respected job. More and more specialty coffee shops in the UK are looking for experienced baristas. It’s not just about pressing a button or steaming some milk. It’s about sharing a passion for coffee, brewing consistently high quality drinks and providing a top service.
What tips would you have for anyone opening a coffee shop?
Location, make sure you find the right spot with high passing trade, shops or offices.
Work closely with a local coffee roaster, they can assist with providing high quality coffee and supply the best equipment for your budget. Decide who is your target customer. Are you going to serve only espresso based milk drinks, or offer alternative filter brew methods.
Simon Gueller Simon and Rena Gueller took over the iconic Box Tree restaurant in 2004…