Editorial photography to illustrate article about Monsoon Estates, award winning artisan coffee roasting business.
Photography & Words – Sally Crane
When Anne and Chris moved back to the UK after 15 years living in Perth, it wasn’t the sunshine they missed, it was the coffee. The quest for a decent cup was the catalyst for a traditional craft roastery that now boasts international sales and award-winning coffee.
“We were exploring the idea of opening a cafe or coffee shop and struggling to find coffee we liked,” says Anne, “so we bought a home roaster and started roasting our own at home, experimenting with beans from the monsoon belt to get a taste we enjoyed.
“We only roast what we would drink ourselves, Arabica beans, preferably grown at high altitude”
“It was Christmas 2009 that it all really started. A lovely friend was organising a charity evening and persuaded us to sell some coffee at the event.”
Encouraged by the enthusiastic response, they hatched plans for a business, prompting Chris to set off to Turkey to buy a larger roaster. Often roasting into the night, they sold at charity events and local markets, developing their craft and gathering an impressive following. Monsoon Estates was born.
A leap of faith by a newly opened local restaurant saw Monsoon Estates enter the commercial market and a bigger machine was soon needed to meet demand. With the kitchen and dining room of their Stratford-upon-Avon home taken over for roasting and storage of bean sacks spreading around the house, the move to premises was the next big step. The first roast at Grove Business Park on the Alscot Estate was in November 2012.
Coffee roasting is an art, a combination of intuition and experience…
2012 also saw their first recognition at the Great Taste Awards, with two gold stars for an elephant bean roast. In 2016 they gained the highest award – three gold stars, for their ‘Espresso Blend’ which also went on to win a prestigious Guild of Fine Food Golden Fork and is currently listed in Great Taste Top 50 Foods. An impressive result too, for 19-year-old Will, having recently joined the family business, making his first entry to Great Taste with his ‘Winter Blend’ which was awarded two gold stars.
Coffee roasting is an art, a combination of intuition and experience while understanding the product and the performance of machines in different conditions. Imported from countries in South America, Asia & Africa, Monsoon Estates select beans for quality which is greatly determined by terroir. Just like wine, altitude, soil, sun direction and climate all make a difference to the resulting beans.
“We only roast what we would drink ourselves, Arabica beans, preferably grown at high altitude”, says Anne. Enthusiasm in the search for the best taste is very clear: “We currently have around 15 different varieties of coffee plus five blends. Probably too many for a small roastery but we get excited about new coffees and want to try them. We’re constantly experimenting to find different tastes.”
In 2016 they gained the highest award – three gold stars, for their ‘Espresso Blend’.
Roasting daily to ensure maximum freshness and flavour, Monsoon Estates supplies coffee shops, restaurants, offices, hotels, delis, farm shops and a tea shop. They sell direct at local markets, special events and online to a core of loyal customers with orders from as far away as Australia, Japan and USA. Even their ‘French Roast’ is now exported to France.