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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Passion for coffee leads couple to set up roasting business in Cumbria

Carlisle has the bouquet of biscuits by McVitie’s, in Penrith there’s a pong, Wigton has it’s whiff and Embleton has the sweet smell of roasting coffee beans in the air.

Coffee couple photo
Gareth Kembel and Angharad MacDonald

It’s thanks to Gareth Kembel and Angharad MacDonald who have launched run their own coffee roasting business called Carvetii Coffee Roasters.

The self-confessed coffee geeks developed a passion for the beans when they helped Gareth’s family set up a coffee shop in North Wales.

“Roasting is the most exciting part of the business because the coffee changes in flavour with each crop,” says Angharad, 30, in an accent broader than the Menai Straits.

The couple specialise in lightly roasting high quality beans. The better the bean, the less roasting it needs and the more flavour it has.

They buy the green beans from a merchant in London, then roast them at their base back at the Embleton business centre. Like wine vintages, different crops can provide different flavours and quality. “It can be very scientific and geeky and we are both coffee geeks!”

As if to prove the point, Angharad tells how when she and Gareth moved to Keswick from Wales, they were so desperate for fresh coffee that they roasted some green beans on a little frying pan when they first moved to Keswick from North Wales.

“We had always had the idea of having our own business, we had lived in North Wales all our lives and just needed to spread our wings.

“It had to be somewhere with mountains and we had both visited the Lake District for holidays before we met each other, so we decided to move here. It is like home from home, but there is more to it up here. It was one of those decisions where we thought if we don’t do it now, we never will.”

The couple moved to Keswick in 2009, Gareth, 41, worked as a supply teacher, while Angharad, who worked as a nursery assistant in Wales, landed a job in a coffee shop at Ullswater.

They continued roasting their beans in the little fry-pan and Angharad explains: “We doodled with that a couple of years, there is so much to learn about roasting.

“You have to find the right temperature for the bean and the right length of time for the roast, there’s a tiny window of opportunity to get the best flavour.

“Just before the summer last year, we thought we would give it a go and set up our own business and it has just gone forward from there”

Angharad works full time, while Gareth works out of school hours.

The couple are supplying some hotels as well as The Monkey Tree delicatessen in Wigton and the Coffee Kitchen in Cockermouth. They will be at this weekend’s Easter Gair at Rheged tomorrow.

It’s not cheap, with individual bags of the beans and ground coffee sold at between £6 and £8, but Angharad says you can taste the difference between their coffees and mass-produced, ready-ground blends.

“I drink it every day – too much!” she says. “I drink it with and without milk, depending on the coffee and I try and drink a lot of water to equal it out. My favourite at the moment is the Kenyan, it is very citric with hints of grapefruit.

“The Costa Rican is completely at the other end of the scale – more sweet, treacly and molasses, we blend it with Brazilian beans which have nutty flavours. Add milk and it gives you a sweet, chocolatey capuccino.”

As for the name of their business, that comes from the fact that during Roman times the Carvetii were a tribe of Celts who settled in Cumbria. Angharad and Gareth are just following in their footsteps.

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