From Farm to Shop - Where Does Your Coffee Come From?
Bean To Cup
When most of us order a cup of coffee, it’s not very often that we take the time to think about where it came from. But the journey of a coffee bean from farm to cup is a long and fascinating one, involving many different people and processes.
We spoke to Method Coffee Roasters to find out exactly what goes into making a shot of Wayland’s Yard house espresso the best it can possibly be.
Seasonal Blends, Balanced Flavours
The exact blend of coffee beans changes seasonally, but it usually contains a mixture of South American, African and Central American coffees. Currently, the house blend is made up of 50% Brazilian, 25% Colombian and 25% Ethiopian coffee beans. Each of these coffees are single origin - meaning that they come from a specific geographic area (usually one farm or a small collection of farms that work closely together).
Each of these single origins will have its own unique character and flavour profile, and the blend is carefully selected to ensure that each of these coffees compliment one another. The aim is to create something greater than the sum of its parts.
The base for the espresso is a Brazilian coffee. Method currently source their beans from Deterra in the Cerrado region of Brazil, withed brewed notes of citrus, milk chocolate and pecan nuts - ideal to cut through our milk-based drinks.
The Columbian is a washed coffee from 5 independent farmers based near Timbio in Cauca, this element of the blend brings fruit, brown sugar and a buttery body to add character and depth to the blend.
The current Ethiopian coffee from Gidey Berhe in Limu Kossa has hints of mandarin with a hazlenut finish - this coffee adds complexity, sweetness and balance to the complete the blend perfectly!
Small samples of green coffee are sent over to the UK ahead of the larger shipments, allowing Method to roast and taste the beans in advance. Sharing the roastery space with them allows for us to join in on cupping sessions, where the potentially new coffees are tasted and chosen!
The ideal Brazilian coffee for the Wayland’s house blend is something with nutty flavours and a rich body, which will taste fantastic either on its own or cutting through milk-based drinks.
Once the coffee cherries are harvested, the fruit needs to be removed from the beans. This is usually called ‘processing’, and there are several different ways it can be done. Each of these processes has a different effect on the final flavour of the coffee.
In the Wayland’s Yard house blend, the Brazilian coffee is processed using the ‘pulped natural’ method, where a pulping machine removes the cherry while leaving some of the mucilage (the thin protective layer around the bean) intact. This imparts extra sweetness and body to the final product.
The other coffees in the blend are usually ‘washed’. In this process the coffee cherries are soaked in water before going through the pulping machine, and the beans are then moved to fermentation tanks. Once fermented the mucilage can be easily removed, and finally the beans are left to dry. Using the washed process results in ‘cleaner’ flavours - in the Wayland’s blend this usually means sweet or floral notes that compliment the Brazilian base.
Once processed, the coffee beans are then shipped to the UK. They are still green at this point - this is where the roastery comes in.
Roasting and Resting
Tre from Method roasts most days of the week on their 1952 Probat roaster, which has been customised so that the roasted coffee can be cooled quickly (leading to a better quality, more consistent product) - if you pop into their roastery on Worcester’s Cherry Tree Walk you can see this fantastic bit of kit for yourself!
Method roasts their coffee in small batches, with each roast being recorded and monitored for quality and accuracy. Roasting times and temperatures will differ for different coffees, so in the Wayland’s Yard blend each single origin is roasted separately to bring out its unique character. The different beans are then blended after roasting.
Freshly roasted coffee gives off gases (mostly carbon dioxide), so it should be rested for at least a week before being brewed as espresso. Once this degassing process is over, the beans are ready to be ground.
The Perfect Cup
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to speciality coffee - if you’re interested in finding out more about your cup, have a chat with one of our baristas. They’re passionate about what they do and will be more than happy to answer your coffee queries.
The Wayland’s Yard house blend is available at both the Worcester and Birmingham stores. If you feel like trying something different, they also offer seasonal single origin espresso and hand-poured V60 filter coffee. You can also visit our new collaborative espresso bar that sits within Method’s new Worcester roastery to sample some of their other fantastic coffees, all roasted in-house.
Written by our old time barista friend, Lauren O’Donoghue.
From Professional Rugby Player To Unprofessional Businessman - Wayland’s Yard at Two
The flagship Worcester branch of Wayland’s Yard is celebrating its two year anniversary this month. We caught up with founder Sam Smith to hear the story of how his business idea became a reality.
Proper Coffee, Proper Food, Proper People.
In the last two years Sam Smith has accomplished more than he had ever expected. In October 2016 he opened the flagship Worcester branch of Wayland’s Yard, a coffee shop and restaurant built around an ethos of ‘proper coffee, proper food’. Since then a second store has been opened in Birmingham, a partnership coffee shop was founded with Method Coffee Roasters, and the Worcester store has become a favourite among local residents. Wayland’s Yard will be celebrating its two year anniversary this October.
For a first-time business owner, Smith has much to be proud of. However, when asked about what he considers to be his greatest success, he pulls up a photo. It shows a group of Wayland’s Yard employees in the flagship store’s yard, celebrating at a staff party earlier in the year. Smith himself - along with his spaniel Kobe, the store’s most popular regular - stands front and centre.
“If you’d said to me in October 2016 that I’d have over thirty members of staff I would have said no way, that’s a joke,” Smith says. “We opened up with eight. To see that growth and to have created a cool little community - I think that’s my proudest moment.
From Rugby Pitch To Coffee Shop
Wayland’s Yard is not the first community that Smith has been a part of. He became a professional rugby player as soon as he finished school, playing for Harlequins in London before joining Worcester Warriors in 2014. He played for Worcester for a year before he suffered an injury that forced him to miss an entire season. In April of 2016 he underwent surgery, but ultimately this proved unsuccessful. A few months later Smith made the difficult decision to retire from rugby.
It was then that he turned his attention to the venture that would eventually become Wayland’s Yard. Smith had been thinking about starting his own business long before his rugby career ended. One of his initial concepts was to make furniture from reclaimed materials, but this idea soon grew and came to incorporate one of his other passions - speciality coffee.
Smith can pinpoint the exact moment he fell in love with speciality coffee. He was on a trip to Amsterdam when he saw V60 filter coffee on a cafe menu and, thinking that it sounded interesting, decided to order one.
“The girl came and made it at the table, which we all thought was pretty incredible, seeing it for the first time,” Smith says. “When she finished I asked for milk. She almost spat in my face, and said no, and walked off,” he laughs. “Then I tasted it and absolutely loved it, and totally got why you wouldn’t put milk in a drink like that. That really sparked my interest.”
While this encounter introduced Smith to the pleasures of high-end coffee, it also got him thinking about the culture of the industry itself.
“Speciality coffee shops can often be so unwelcoming,” he says. “There’s that big, invisible barrier between the baristas and the customers. You almost get scolded for not knowing as much as them, and you feel as if you’ve interrupted their day by asking questions. I don’t think it should be that way. Baristas should get excited when customers are interested about coffee and are asking questions.”
This frustration with certain aspects of the speciality coffee industry became central to the Wayland’s Yard ethos. Smith set out to do something that was different, not only serving high quality coffee and food but also creating an environment where everyone could feel welcome.
Today, Smith feels that Wayland’s Yard has achieved that. “You can come in any time on any day and there’ll be a really wide demographic of customers here,” he says. “You’ll have your hipster students coming in for their filter coffees, but you’ve also got older gentlemen and women coming in for their cups of tea, friends having a slice of cake, families, and everyone in between. I really like that about Wayland’s.”
Trial and Error
The journey from the initial idea to today’s bustling cafe was not always an easy one, however. “This whole process has been the biggest learning curve I’ve ever been on,” Smith says. “Playing rugby you have everything given to you on a plate in terms of the support team - coaches, physios, doctors, teammates behind you. If you have any questions you can go and ask someone, and there’s a specialist in that field to help you work it out. Whereas this was the first time ever I’d totally done something on my own - and with absolutely no experience.”
Smith researched both the business and coffee sides of the venture intensely, and reached out to others in the coffee community for support. Peter Dore-Smith, the director of Kaffeine, invited him down to London to to see how their Fitzrovia store was run.
“That was a proper baptism of fire,” he says. “It was amazing for me to see how well his shop was run despite how busy it was, and it gave a really good benchmark to try and set our processes and standards against. I’ll always be very grateful to him. He helped me to avoid a lot of mistakes by that one day.”
“I think again that touches on what I love about the coffee community,” Smith adds. “Every other shop owner I’ve ever met is just always so friendly, and we can always chat and find stuff in common and laugh about things we’re struggling with. It’s not some sort of abrasive competition, it’s a proper community.”
The next challenge was finding the right location for the flagship store. Smith viewed over thirty different premises before visiting the Foregate Street site. As soon as he saw the garden - which was then an overgrown jungle - he knew that he had found the right place.
Now that he had the perfect premises, it was a question of finding the money to turn the space into a coffee shop. Smith had already put his own personal savings into the business, but more money needed to be secured before he could move on with the project. After traditional routes proved unsuccessful, Smith turned his attention to crowdfunding.
The response was overwhelming. The target goal of £10,000 was reached in just twenty four days - the majority of this support coming from Smith’s first community, with pledges pouring in from former teammates and rugby fans from both Worcester Warriors and Harlequins.
After the start up money had been secured, the hard work of renovating the store began. The courtyard was choked with weeds, parts of the shop were in disrepair, and there were mushrooms growing in the stairwells. On top of all this, the store was located in a listed building, making the work even harder to complete.
But, over the next few months, everything began to come together. The garden was cleared, the interior was restored, and bit by bit the first branch of Wayland’s Yard began to take shape. In October 2016 the store opened its doors to the public for the first time.
“In the end I got so impatient that we opened about three weeks too early,” Smith recalls. “The bar wasn’t clad, lots of stuff wasn’t finished. The night before I finished at three a.m. and came back at five to finish stuff before we opened at midday. Our oven got delivered two hours after we opened. That list could go on.”
The months of planning and hard work had finally come to a head. “I was a complete and utter nervous wreck,” Smith says. “I remember I actually cried the morning of opening - I’m going to put that down to tiredness, but I think it was an outlet of all the hard work and worry and excitement and nerves. Everything all came out at once. I was really proud and excited.”
Above all, Smith remembers the people who were there on the first day. His friends and family were in attendance, as well as rugby supporters and other people who had contributed to the Crowdfunder campaign. Some of his old rugby teammates were at the shop helping him set up until 3 a.m. the night before the launch; they were back again first thing in the morning, queuing up to be the first customers of the day. Smith is still grateful for the true friendship his former teammates showed him then, and he voices a hope that when they transition out of rugby he can return the favour and help them in kind.
“It was pure excitement to show them what we had been working on for so long,” he says.
What’s Next For Wayland’s?
Since that first day Wayland’s Yard has gone from strength to strength. Business has been growing steadily, a second branch has opened, and responses from customers have been overwhelmingly positive. Yet Smith is not ready to rest on his laurels.
“The only way that this has got to where it is is through us as a business being willing and open to developing and growing and learning,” he says. “We’re always trying to stay ahead of the curve and we’re not happy to sit and rest and let other people catch up. I think that’s the only way you can survive in such a competitive industry. But that’s what makes it exciting, because you never stop, and that’s what I love. There’s always new stuff going on.”
When it comes to the success that Wayland’s Yard has enjoyed so far, Smith returns to the ethos upon which the business was founded - proper food, proper coffee and proper people.
“We’ve always wanted to source locally and get the best quality produce, and we’ve always done that with our coffee and our food. I guess that’s our building blocks, the foundation of what this place is built on,” he says. “I want people to leave the door with us having had a positive impact on their day.”
As well as the business itself, Smith feels that he too has grown alongside Wayland’s Yard.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself,” he says. “It sounds cheesy but it’s been a proper journey of discovery. I think I used the shop as a way of blocking out the fact that I’d had to retire from rugby. It was the best distraction ever, but I had to face up to that at some point, and when I finally did it was quite a tough process to deal with that. That was my identity for ten years, who I was as a person, but since then I’ve probably discovered who I really am and what I really want to get out of life.”
In the end, it comes back to the same question - is he proud of what he has achieved?
“I think for a long time I wasn’t very proud of it, because I’d never given myself the chance to step back and appreciate what had been created. Now I walk into the shops and they’re busy and people are having a nice time, and it does make me feel proud,” he says. “It’s exciting to see where this all ends up.”
Interviewed and written by our old time barista friend, Lauren O’Donoghue.