So, I'm Scott. I had spent the previous 20 years either making wine in Bordeaux, buying wine in London and latterly building a team and selling wine in the North of England for the finest wine merchant in the UK. I was used to tasting nice things and had friends in the industry who were considered the best restaurant operators of their generation.
All sounding good, right..?
Well, yes and no…My wine role was becoming more corporate, I wanted to create something meaningful and the climate in the North of England meant that establishing a vineyard here was going to be a struggle.
Mostly, the coffee I was being offered on a daily basis was iffy. “Hey, Scott…Great to see you, let me get you a coffee…” it was often boring and flat, exactly how I was beginning to feel.
A few years earlier, the Patrick family (Me, Sarah and our two kids, Kittie and Lucas) had moved to a run down farm house and we had been spending our time fixing up the out buildings and populating the place with Alpacas, dogs and cats. We had lots of room, nice views and were powered by coffee, we were fascinated by the stuff, the intricate flavours and origins, mirroring what I had been working with in wine all my adult life.
After a particularly tough week and a few hours of moaning on a Friday night, Sarah (who has a successful graphic design business) and I noticed that there was a world of coffee expo the following weekend in Nice. Could we turn a passion in to a business?
The plan was hatched.
We did some sums, looked at our surroundings and armed only with a couple of return tickets to the South of France, we jumped on a plane and spent these two days immersing ourselves in the industry, what was needed to start, what it would cost, how much space we would need and how we could convert a wine palate in to a coffee palate
That was 6 years ago.
So we bought a coffee roaster, the best in class, hugely expensive but fantastically efficient and consistent. We had six weeks before it arrived and a tired cow byre to convert in that time.
I still had my proper job at this point, often requiring early starts and late nights, so I didn’t see much of the children or Sarah, it was either wine glasses and tasting menus or sledgehammers and goggles.
I lost a stone in weight and any colour in my hair in those six weeks, but did gain a proper understanding of building regulations and a shiny new roastery building. The trade off seemed fair.
So the roaster arrived and was installed, this in itself a drama involving neighbours, their tractors, bad measurements, swearing and fall outs. It looked great though and so did the carefully considered packaging. We were nearly there.
The next six weeks involved trips to London at weekends to learn how to fly this thing, it was harder than I had imagined, but like most things persistence paid off and after many, many, many test roasts I was starting to feel like Han Solo in the Millennium Falcon, and while this learning process hadn’t been like a jump to light speed we were heading in the right direction…and fast…
Green beans from every corner of the world would then start arriving at Lonton and the first proper roast took place on Boxing Day 2013.
So, we had a lovely roastery, a great roaster, lots of coffee and no customers. It was time to show people what we had been doing…
Weekends were spent visiting friends and people in the industry showing them what we had been roasting and getting some feedback.
Confident in everything that we had done, from selecting the roaster, the beans to roast, the roasting profile, the packaging, I was sure that we going to hit this ball out of the park.
Hours of testing had paid off, our coffee was great, people loved the blends we had put together as well as the ethos behind our sourcing, packaging and roasting which was all geared towards a more sustainable product. Greta Thunberg was 11 at this point….
So as our production increased, so did our team. Sam (who transformed the business) was first, then Gary, then Peter, then Paul. Our production doubled in size every six months. We were supplying amazing places with amazing coffee and then…
The end of the World?
So, it was a misty morn, you know...The sort of day when things are going well, the dog is pleased to see you, the toast doesn't burn and the marmite tastes like an alien gift from a galaxy far far away.
That was Monday the 16th of March. We were rapidly heading for our busiest ever month despite the virus madness that was starting to encircle our many clients.
The mood was buoyant, keep the faith, it'll all blow over was the general mood.
Then Boris spoke...It was serious, it shut down all our clients. Will we survive?
Of course we will...But we needed to re tool and quickly. This website was put together to finally facilitate coffee deliveries to the great British public. Finally answering the stream of enquiring emails asking for our coffee to be available online.
And here we are, about to engage in Social Media and let people know that we are here, we have coffee and we have the means to get it to you.
Buy our coffee. It's good.