“We knew we had something special with this coffee”
An idea sparked on the other side of the world has become, in just three years, an artisan coffee-roasting business in rural Cheshire, producing top-quality beans that create joy in a cup. Lynda Searby went to meet the makers of an outstanding coffee blend
Lost Barn Coffee Roasters’ Bloomsbury Blend was a coffee that was always going to be a strong contender for the 2020 Great Taste Awards. The easydrinking espresso had been given two coveted stars the previous year, but the coffee has come of age in the 12 months that have elapsed since.
“We knew we had something special when we were awarded two stars, but at that point we were still a relatively young business. We had to build on that with more experience,” says Jo McKerchar, who founded the Cheshire micro-roastery with her husband Blair, a chef, and their business partner Martyn Moloney. This year, the company’s coffee has been awarded three stars and the Great Taste Golden Fork for the north of England.
“We’ve refined the blend in terms of the proportion of beans. It’s based on a new crop of mundo novo beans from a family farm in Brazil. Every year, the flavour of the bean is improving,” says Jo.
Not many coffee brands can claim to have a direct line to the farm that supplies their beans, but this is the way Lost Barn Coffee operates - and the company pays a price agreed with the grower rather than set by the commodities market.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
The idea for a coffee company was conceived while the three founders lived and worked in Melbourne, Australia, a city with coffee running through its veins and bursting with speciality roasters. “We realised that, back home, no one was hand-roasting coffee in our corner of the UK,” recalls Jo. “With Blair’s expertise and palate, we saw a real opportunity.” And now here they are, tucked away on a country estate just outside the village of Tilston in Cheshire.
BAGS OF FLAVOUR The name Lost Barn comes from a terrible storm in 1839 that blew down a barn on the site where the coffee is made; chef Blair and ex-architect Jo got the coffee bug Down Under; roasting in small batches gives a greater amount of control; the beans come direct from family growers
WHY SMALL-SCALE MATTERS The Lost Barn Coffee roasts single-origin beans in 10kg batches. This small-scale approach allows precise control over the roasting process, which is in itself an art. “Each bean reacts differently depending on its size, moisture content and other variables. When roasting with gas, you have to pre-empt colour changes before they happen,” explains Jo.
The little roastery is working overtime to meet demand, which has doubled since the start of 2020, and the team have secured planning permission for a public-facing roastery with adjoining café on the same rural estate. Building work commences in spring with a view to opening in autumn.
THE ALL-IMPORTANT BIT: WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE? The Bloomsbury Espresso Blend has a smooth, biscuity caramel character that develops into a citrus finish. Its full-bodied, easy-drinking style gives it broad appeal - it’s designed for sipping throughout the day.
WHERE TO ORDER Bloomsbury Espresso Blend costs £6.55 for 250g whole beans (£6.90 for ground). Lost Barn has many other beans and blends available, as well as gift boxes and coffee kit. To order, visit The Bloomsbury Espresso Blend
delicious.is delighted to support The Great Taste Awards. To discover more about them, what they’re about and how they’re judged, visit deliciousmagazine.co.uk