Sheffield coffee firm perks up and creates jobs with new roaster

Steve Hampshire taste testing at Roastology
Steve Hampshire taste testing at Roastology

Coffee specialist Cafeology is putting Yorkshire roast on the map - coffee roast.

Caefology, an importer, roaster and distributor which claims to have kicked off Sheffield’s coffee scene in 2003, is one of the UK’s largest independently-owned coffee companies.

Bryan Unkles with the new roaster.

Bryan Unkles with the new roaster.

It is marking its 15th year with a £250,000 investment in roasting and blending service, Roastology.

A new facility boasts a £110,000 roaster three times the size of existing equipment and capable of handling 35 kilos of beans at 430 degrees in 12 minutes, with a capacity of a tonne a day.

Based at Vantage Riverside Business Park near Meadowhall, it also has a ‘coffee laboratory’ and a training academy which will upskill baristas from across the country. Three jobs have been created and there are more to follow, bosses say.

The site, developed on former brownfield land with investment from the European Regional Development Fund, is solar-powered and officially launches on December 6.

Bryan Unkles and Steve Hampshire with the new roaster at Roastology

Bryan Unkles and Steve Hampshire with the new roaster at Roastology

“We have stayed true to our values of quality, ethical sourcing, full traceability and Yorkshire roots and poured our years of experience into, Roastology,” said MD Bryan Unkles.

“It has taken off at an unprecedented rate in just two years. Investing in a new site and the latest equipment is proof of our commitment to further expansion.

“We now have 16 staff and will be creating more jobs on that journey. We are putting Sheffield and Rotherham on the map.”

He launched the firm with business partner Andy McClatchey. Today it is based at Acorn Business Park, uses the Made In Sheffield trademark, and its annual turnover is £4m.

Own-label Cafeology products are sold via retailers, coffee shops and cafeology.com and supply more than 50 cafes, restaurants and businesses, while Roastology creates blends from ethically-sourced green coffee.

Roastology is an award winner - its Aviator blend recently won top marks at the 2018 Great Taste Awards - and is supplies the Revere Pub Company, Alexandra Palace, universities, independent pubs and restaurants.

The academy will train baristas from across the country and run coffee masterclasses and team-building events for the public. Visitors will see how beans are roasted and blends created, taste-test to identify flavour characteristics and learn the art of making coffees, said Bryan.

Some 70 per cent of Cafeology’s beans still comes from the same Colombian growers’ association it discovered in 2008 on deciding to take control of quality by sourcing its own Fairtrade beans.

The rest is from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, a carbon-neutral plantation in Costa Rica and a host of small-batch producers around the world. Bryan visits plantations every other year and his wife Toni directs finance and administration.

Other Cafeology brands include Teaology, Cocoaology and Frappeology, all Fairtrade, and Rainforest Alliance-approved Café Cereza.

Bryan Unkle’s coffee career didn’t happen in an instant. After deciding against further education, he trained as a bricklayer at 16.

One of his duties was making instant coffee for workers. “I didn’t know there was anything else.”

He was 18 when he persuaded dad Malcolm to bring him into the family firm selling citrus drink concentrates. It was bought by Lions Beverages, who later bought a coffee business and made him general manager at 28.

He left to work for an Italian coffee company in London and discovered the Fairtrade values which were to have such a profound impact on the firm he established.

“Giving coffee farmers a fair wage enables them to look after their crops better and coffee companies get a higher-quality product. We launched Cafeology on those values.”