The trusty sat nav dropped us in the general vicinity of Rounton Coffee Roasters, but we had to rely on our keen sense of smell to locate the barn. Fortunately for us David Beattie, owner of Rounton Coffee, was just finishing off a roast and the smell of fresh coffee wafted in through our air con. A quick U-turn and we followed our noses back to the barn door.
Set in an old granary just outside Middlesbrough, in a small village called East Rounton, Rounton Coffee Roasters has been producing fantastic coffee since 2014. The old barn is full of character, exposed beams and original wooden floor, handmade wooden furniture, hessian coffee sacks and, of course, lots of shiny coffee equipment. David and Tracy had set up a cupping tasting session, guiding us through the subtleties of their unique blends and carefully chosen single origin coffees. We try six or seven different coffees, each one bringing its own taste and aroma, expertly guided by David whose knowledge and passion for coffee came through in abundance.
David started out in chemical engineering, so with a strong background in science you could say he is now the Walter White of the coffee world, but he didn’t set out to roast. Back in 2011 he left his engineering job to travel the world. He remembers… “I finished on Thursday and on Friday I jumped on a train at Middlesbrough train station and headed to France, then around Europe, into Russia, down to Mongolia, China and ended up in Lake Toba, Sumatra.”
He went deep into the Sumatran forest and spent time with coffee farmers in a small co-operative. He was hooked instantly, wanting to learn all about the process. He says, “It was here where it all became clear. I knew working with coffee was where I wanted to be.” After initially trying to set up sustainable trade routes to the UK while in Sumatra, he realised the best thing he could do was to set up his own market, so he headed home with a plan to start roasting.
When he arrived back he met up with Tracy, now his partner, who he had known since school. They went for a coffee. Tracy says, “David was so excited and passionate about setting up a roastery, and then, hopefully, coffee shops, that I couldn’t help but get involved.” Eighteen months later the business was launched from the granary, and has grown and grown. David says, “Every day we are learning, improving and strengthening everything we do.” The idea from the start was to bring consistent quality coffee back to his home town of Middlesbrough and do it on a sustainable basis, guaranteeing a fair cut for everyone at the bean end, and a fabulous taste for everyone at the cup end.
So far they have won taste awards, run numerous public cupping sessions, are stocked and served throughout the UK and have finally opened their first coffee shop in Middlesbrough town centre. The great tasting coffee, the solid roasting process and David’s relentless drive all add up to a recipe for success and his vision of serving great tasting coffee consistently, whilst giving farmers a fair cut, is starting to happen. And with plans for more coffee shops, it won’t be long before Rounton coffee becomes one of the solid names in the coffee world. We’ll drink to that.