Allpress: James Boatfield-Thorley talks about pricing, consumers and instant specialty

17/05/2019
Allpress: James Boatfield-Thorley talks about pricing, consumers and instant specialty

James Boatfield-Thorley, roasting manager at Allpress, talks to Beverage Business World about his journey into coffee and why he is participating in the Roastery Masterclass LIVE! at European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo.

 

How did you get into the coffee industry?

I studied illustration at Falmouth. I  supplemented my studies with an income, for four years,  by working as a barista in a little specialty coffee shop. For the first year after I finished I was doing design and running the cafe. That is where my enthusiasm for coffee grew. I got to a crossroads where it was either illustration or coffee. I moved back to London and all the jobs that seemed to be popping up were more common in coffee. I saw a job at Allpress and they seemed to have a good ethos. I started as a roastery assistant, basically packing boxes, and doing some roasting and in five years I have built up my knowledge in the trade and am now running the roastery.

 

How did you get a passion for the industry?

For me the initial attraction was the enjoyment I got out of producing a product that people enjoyed and taking pride over that.

I have seen coffee grow from a fledgling idea of speciality coffee,  with people not really understanding it and being afraid of the price, into what it is today.  People really understand and respect it so much.

What are the challenges facing roasteries at the moment?

The challenge that comes up all the time, and has from the very first moment I started making coffee as a roaster,  is consistency. Technology has moved along a lot and understanding has moved along. As a barista,  it is about extracting the right amount of coffee in the right amount of time, and steaming milk in the correct way. But as a roaster you have got a whole new set of problems, as you are buying an agricultural product that moves with the seasons, and can be a different quality each year. Roasting with a consistent flavour profile is a real challenge but makes our job fun. We are very lucky here at Allpress to have this bespoke made roaster, that we designed ourselves and gives us amazing batch-by-batch consistency.

Right now the biggest challenge facing the coffee industry in general is how the C-Market has really dipped of late. Everyone pays the C price and then depending on the quality we pay the differential. Only the top 30% of coffee come under the specialty brands that they can pay out a differential. But there is a lot of coffee being sold  at a lot lower price than it costs farmers to produce it.  We are now seeing very good prices for us in purchasing and we try to purchase responsibility to ensure the farmers have enough money. But once the C-Market starts going back up again, the coffee industry is going to have to react to that increase in price. We could see a big spike in prices in the next one to two years and that will essentially be passed down to the consumer.

Are there any trends you are seeing in the market?

We are seeing a move back to more development roasts and blends. Ready-to-drink coffees and pre-made lattes are growing in supermarkets and you you will see people like ourselves diversifying. Specialty instant coffee has become a bit of a thing and that might be a trend.

 

You are involved in European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo Roaster Masterclass Live! What made you want to become involved?

I think increasing external engagement with the people that buy the coffee from us wholesale is only going to be good thing. Increasing understanding means the product is treated with more respect. Knowledge and understanding is being shared and the common goal is to create an industry that produces a great product that everyone can enjoy. That will be a great opportunity for people to share their own experiences and learn from each other.

It is an opportunity for me to put myself in a slightly uncomfortable position and speak to my understanding of the coffee industry. We have a unique style at Allpress and it will be great to share.

 

 

 

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