Behind the Scenes with Horsham Coffee Roaster
by Lloyd Burgess — 07 April 2019
Horsham Coffee Roaster was founded by husband and wife team, Bradley and Amelia after a trip to Toronto introduced them to specialty coffee and roasting for the first time. In 2012, the specialty coffee scene in Sussex was lacking so Bradley and Amelia decided to turn things around. However, considering their first attempts to roast were on a popcorn machine, they had a lot to learn.
Shortly after their return, they set up a small 1kg roaster in their garage and started selling beans and coffee at a little market stall in Horsham. They found that having direct contact with customers meant that they could really respond to feedback and adjust to people’s needs – an asset in today’s world of faceless corporations, and one that clearly paid off as their popularity sky-rocketed.
Although the market stall is no more, their roastery now proudly hosts a 25kg roasting machine and their team has expanded to seven. Horsham are always aiming to grow and are constantly looking for exciting new coffees to add to their range - with a focus on single origins.
One of the many variable factors in producing the perfect cup of coffee is how the cherries are processed into green, ready to roast beans. This happens at washing stations. Washed coffee has the flesh of the cherry removed early on before drying whereas natural coffee involves no washing and is dried with the flesh still covering the bean. Natural coffees tend to be sweeter and Horsham is keen to explore the boundaries of natural coffee.
Horsham have been working directly with a co-operative in Rwanda to experiment more with their processes for natural coffee. How does drying beans in shallower layers impact their flavour, for example? However, this experimentation increases the risk for the station of producing imperfect beans. Horsham acknowledges this and they offered to pay an increased rate for these experimental coffees. This direct approach shows real authenticity and a zeal for treading new ground in the name of exceptional coffee.
As you walk into the roastery there is a small coffee bar, which is no doubt a throwback to their earlier days in Horsham market. Pictures of recently visited farms and washing stations in Rwanda adorn the walls, so every stage of the coffee process is visible in this one room. You can sip a flat white literally meters away from where the beans are being roasted.
From the very beginning, ethical considerations have been a top priority for Bradley and Amelia, and they hold themselves to high standards. Horsham is the proud purveyor of what they call: ‘Relationship Coffee’. As Amelia explains, relationship coffee encompasses more than just superficially visiting farmers and washing stations. It’s about having a direct relationship and working closely with others to build sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships. Half way through this explanation, Bradley received a WhatsApp message from a farmer. You can’t get any more direct than that! You can read more about their Relationship Coffee by clicking here.
So, what brew method do the founders of Horsham use at home? Most days they make drip coffee with their Kalita Wave and are very fond of their Wilfa Svart grinder.