With five sites in and around Brighton and plans for further expansion, the independent and family-run Trading Post Coffee Roasters are becoming one of the area’s leading coffee brands. Every day, they roast beans carefully selected from around the world to create their own unique blends, which they serve in their coffee shops, sell online and supply to wholesale customers. They recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of their first site in Ship Street, Brighton, which was opened in January 2017 by Trading Post Coffee Roasters founder Michael Deol and set a benchmark for their artisan roasting approach. Shortly after, further sites were opened in Cliffe High Street, Lewes and Kensington Gardens, Brighton, with The Roastery on Sydney Street and their largest site to date in South Street, Chichester, opening in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Trading Post Coffee Roasters pride themselves on their artisan roasting method and keeping the roasters on the shop floor allows customers a glimpse into the process of their coffee making from raw bean to cup. BN1 were invited along to The Roastery, their hub of operations, for a special presentation of the equipment and the roasting process by marketing manager Seb Stall, roaster Andrew Adams and master roaster/head of coffee Tom Curatolo. Coming from two generations of coffee roasters, Tom draws on a lifetime of experience to develop Trading Post’s unique blends. He guided us through the nuanced art of coffee roasting, and introduced us to their largest shop roaster, a shiny brand new Probat UG 15.
We watched as the pale green beans were added to the roasting drum, where they are constantly rotated to ensure an even roast. As the gas-heated roasting process progressed, we watched the colours of the beans gradually change. Shortly after beans are first loaded in, they go through a drying stage to evaporate the water content and then they begin to change colour, first turning yellow as they shed the chaff which is collected in a rocket-shaped container to the side. Tom explained this part is the beginning of the Maillard reaction, when the aromatic compounds are produced in the beans. Being up-close to the process, we were able to experience the subtle aromas as they developed.
The next stage in the process is heralded by the ‘first crack’, an audible popcorn-like sound. At this point, the beans are roasted enough to make a cup of coffee as we know it, and it’s now down to the roaster to decide how much longer to continue roasting. The beans develop different organic compounds and create caramelized sugars, so the amount of time they are left roasting determines the flavour profile of the finished product. When the desired level of roasting is achieved, they are released in a satisfying avalanche into the cooling chamber below, where they are circulated until they reach room temperature.
Tom’s father has always told him, ‘There is no perfect coffee, taste is subjective’, which is why Trading Post choose different beans with different attributes and blend them together to suit each occasion or palette. Trading Post Coffee Roasters currently offer six different coffees, four of which we were lucky enough to sample, including a distinctively fruity single origin Ethiopian bean and Black Pearl, their signature Brighton blend that combines beans from five different origins across the Americas, Africa and Asia. There’s also the Green Monkey Soil Association-certified organic blend, created in their fully organic Lewes roastery, and their water process decaf, Mexican Mountain Water.
It’s clear that the team here take great pride in their product. Freshness and sustainability are priorities. Their policy is to set up a roaster wherever they sell it, and running these roasters on a daily basis means that they can roast their wholesale and online orders in small batches to maximise freshness.
Everything included within their coffee delivery boxes (including the boxes themselves) is either recyclable or biodegradable and local orders are delivered by E-cargo bike to ensure their carbon footprint is as low as it can be. Furthermore, all their coffee is Rainforest Alliance-certified, meaning the farms from which the beans are sourced are safe, ethical places to live and work.
As part of their focus on community, Trading Post have collaborated with local artist Parky to create a new range of merchandise for them, which will be launched at the London Coffee Festival running from March 31st, where they will also unveil their latest single origin speciality coffee. Acting as ambassadors of good coffee in the local area, they are official partners of La Marzocco UK, Nuova Simonelli and Mazzer and offer a bespoke and tailored service for wholesale customers looking to set up new espresso machines and grinders. Trading Post have also teamed up with local graffiti artist Cassette Lord who’s created various pieces of artwork which are on display throughout their coffee shops.
Having the opportunity to experience the roasting process as you sip your cappuccino is a real treat, and the team are always happy to share their passion for coffee and talk customers through the process. In a world where transparency and environmental accountability are increasingly important, it’s refreshing as well as educational to be able to learn so much about the story of the product you’re consuming. And did I mention the coffee really is top class? The Ethiopian single origin bean especially is great if you’re looking to explore something distinctive, but whichever coffee you choose here, you won’t be disappointed.
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