26 February 2019 | company news | Views:

Inside the Roastery: where green becomes roasted bean

You’ve heard all about our adventures at origin, and you know the coffee maker in your office all too well (what other machinery do you wait and stare at three times a day?). But how does it get from Colombia to your work kitchen?

Introducing our Haslemere-based roastery. The hub of Pact Coffee for Business, this is where your orders come in and your coffee comes out - after being expertly roasted and freshly ground, of course.

History of the roastery

September 2012-early 2013: Stephen Rappoport founds Pact Coffee in his office - buying roasted coffee from another company, repackaging and selling it by the bag under the name YourGrind.

2013: After proving the concept, he gets investment for our current subscription model. He starts buying green coffee from Will Corby, who was working for Mercanta, and gets it roasted in Wimbledon.

Late 2013: Stephen moves YourGrind to a Bermondsey-based office and grindhouse, which means the company could start grinding beans fresh. Still buying coffee from Will through Mercanta, it was a small operation - with just five in the office, and a couple of people grinding.

June 2014: Will is appointed to his current role - Head of Coffee! He gets straight to work finding farmers to build relationships and trade with, and after 12-18 months achieves 100% direct trade for the company. This is when Pact’s flagship coffee, Planalto, first comes on the scene!

December 2014: The Loring Peregrine S700 roaster, which was ordered earlier that year, finally arrives - and Pact Coffee opens its first roastery also in Bermondsey!

2015-2018: A new roastery means a new set of staff! Will trains up roasters and quality control managers, with a lot of the staff ‘graduating’ from the grindhouse in that small Bermondsey office.

August 2018: Business booms, which means Pact needs more room! Unable to keep up with demand in our small Bermondsey-based operation, we relocate the roastery to Haslemere for the next chapter of the company.

How sacks of green get to your coffee machine…

1. Green beans arrive

Sacks of green coffee beans have quite the journey before they end up in the sleepy town of Haslemere. Coming in shipments from Colombia, or Ethiopia, or Honduras (to name a few), they’ve already spent months being grown and perfectly processed before boarding a ship in containers.

If you think about how much of a faff it can be just getting a pair of trainers delivered to your home (the van breaks down, your parcel get misplaced, or delivered to a never-home-apart-from-that-one-time neighbour), this is never simple. A whole host of things can cause delays - from docking issues to bad weather.

2. Quality checks

Before anything can happen to those shipments of coffee, they need to be quality checked. Even though samples have been tested prior to this, it’s vital to make sure the full sacks of green coffee measure up to this.

There’s lots of ways beans are tested - for their density and moisture content, visually for any obvious defects like insect damage, for uniformity of size (important to the roast) and a lot more. Once the green coffee is tested, it needs to be roasted and cupped to check flavour notes haven’t changed from the sample and that the quality is still high. There’s a lot that goes into it!

3. Roasting

Once everything’s been determined shipshape, the roasting can take place! It’s carefully scheduled in, so it’ll always arrive at your office no more than seven days after the roast has actually taken place.

This is no chicken dinner ‘shove it in and take it out when it looks done’ kind of deal. The exact roasting temperature curve is carefully and scientifically determined, depending on the specific batch being roasted, and monitored throughout to track the roast’s progress.

Fun fact - our roaster is also as environmentally friendly as it could be, as it recycles hot air.

4. Grinding

Not all coffee leaves us in wholebean form. For customers who want their beans pre-ground, we offer five different sizes to suit a variety of brewing methods. And the grinders in the roastery have to be meticulously and continuously fine-tuned to ensure the coffee is the perfect weight for its purpose.

5. Packing

All that coffee is then packed up, in a variety of different sized bags and quantities, ready to go out to homes and offices all over. With 1000s of bags going out each week, this is busy work - coffee is carefully weighed out, and bags closed and sealed before getting the appropriate label.

6. Shipping

Finally all that coffee needs to be shipped direct to your office or home. And while for you it’s as similar as opening a package to find ready-to-brew fresh coffee, just consider the steps it’s taken to get there… just after we’ve got our hands on it!


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