Monday, July 17, 2006

crossing the pond for the scoop, part two

[this is part two of my interview with stephen leighton, founder of has bean coffee in the u.k. if you're reading this first, stop, drop and roll your way down a bit to the first part, first.]

describe an embarrassing coffee moment.

I guess the most recent (I do embarrassing things all the time ;) )is my appearance on, WOW does my voice sound camp.

I recently got to meet a hero of mine. His name is Gabriel and he is the owner and manager of my favourite farm called Fazenda Cachoeira, and truly changed my world the first time I tried it, and was the coffee that introduced me to Mercanta. Well when I meet him I'd been enjoying the hospitality of a part in Bern at the SCAE show and was worse for wear on good quality champagne (trust me this is not the norm for a roaster at all). Well I went all girly and I'm sure I frightened him, but was a great moment for me. :)

coffee or espresso? why?

This is tough. It's like saying, "Who do you love more your mom or your dad?!?" I love them both for completely different reasons, and for completely different times of the day and moods (coffee or espresso of course--not my mom or dad!) :)

what is the coolest coffee thing happening in your country?

There's a real buzz at the moment with James Hoffman doing so well in this year's WBC, and I think that can only be positive for the industry. And the UK chapter of the SCAE (specialty coffee association of Europe)has a new chairman and is taking steps to make it a whole lot better. The first step is to create training courses for different areas of coffee and creating a steering committee, of which I'm involved in both.

what is your biggest coffee wish?

That we all start paying more for good coffee (roasters and consumers)and bad coffee is known as such. If we can raise awareness of how special coffee can be then there is no reason why it can not be as revered as wine or any other specialty food/drink.

current favorite piece of coffee equipment?

I love the Clover, but hey, who doesn’t who has been lucky enough to drink from it? So I'm not going to say that, predictably. I love the Aerobe Aeropress, yes that’s right a piece of plastic that costs under £30. Now come on pick that jaw up of the floor and let me explain why.It shows Joe Public--and we are not talking coffee freaks or people in the industry but real people--how good coffee can be done relatively cheaply. It's very close to the cupping experience and I like that. It
removes a snobby barrier from coffee and that can only be good.

what is the most *practical* advice would you offer for someone wanting to get into specialty coffee?

Keep focused on what you want to achieve. For me, I've kept true to what I believe. There have been times I could have made an easy buck and I could have been a lot richer than what I am now.'s coffee without compromise, and my rules my goal. What's the point in going into business if you cant' do what you want for who you want?

where do you see your company in five years?

I don’t see a massive change from what we are doing. We will have some staff so I can go to origin without having to drag the family in to help Sarah run things, and I guess a little more than what we are doing now. Good coffee is still good coffee (and quite often better if you aren't huge) if you’re a big or a small company. And I still I hope it will be coffee without compromise.
thanks to steve for taking time out for this blog interview. please visit his site and support the scene.


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