Ben Craig – A Journey Into Coffee
Exploring where our coffee comes from and what makes it special, something more than just a hot caffeinated beverage. We will ‘cup’ different coffees and find out which ones truly excite and delight you.
Root & Branch Coffee Roasters & Brew Bar (R&B) was opened on the 1st May 2016 by Ben Craig & Simon Johnston. Though it was initially started as a coffee and foodie pop-up in 2012 appearing at local festivals and events. Moving beyond pop-up gave the opportunity to begin roasting in-house and so Simon’s previously unused biochemistry degree had the cobwebs dusted off and he set to roasting. Ben got to work on the bar and together they formed a feedback loop ensuring that each bean would be roasted and poured so as to elevate its own wonderful and particular characteristics. For R&B speciality coffee is where science and art combine in a beautiful space with an ethical base and social grace. At the Roastery nothing goes to landfill, everything is recyclable or compostable and there is a huge emphasis on welcome and creating a great atmosphere with live music every Sunday. All of the coffees roasted by R&B are rated as speciality coffee by the speciality coffee association and sourced via assisted direct trade, often paying 30% above fair trade prices. Simon & Ben sample roast and then blind cup and taste all potential new crops and then choose what they think will work best as a filter or espresso. They then order these beans seasonally and roast them in house on their Geisen Coffee Roaster. They’re then put through some pretty stringent analytical tests. The freshly roasted beans are bagged in the world’s first fully compostable bio-bags, adorned with artwork from local artist Glenn Kennedy and then sold in 250g or 1 kg volumes to be poured on their bar or shipped to their growing number of happy customers across the UK and Europe. The Menu is very simple, offering seasonal coffees on the Brew Bar and a seasonal house blend or a micro-lot on espresso that can be enjoyed on its own or with milk. All of the espresso shots are double and R&B only use organic milk. There are a few sweet sundries to pair with the coffees that change regularly and for the non-coffee drinker there is a range of delicious tea from Chash in London as well as Hot Chocolate from Belfast’s CoCouture.