We found some time last week to visit another inspiring food business here in Dublin and wanted to shine a spotlight on them. This time we stopped by our friends at Cloud Pickers Coffee Roasters. A micro craft coffee roastery based on Sherif Street in Dublin City Centre. They’ve been hand roasting coffee beans since 2013 pouring all their passion and expertise into everything they do. They create a range of really interesting blends, alongside seasonal single origin coffees.
The minute we arrived, we were struck by the amazing scent of fresh roasted coffee. After a quick chat, we jumped at the chance to participate in one of their tastings. We tasted 4 completely different coffees, and went about it in a way we have never drunk coffee before. The guys have such an in-depth knowledge of their craft, and we were transfixed as they explained to us in detail the origins and taste profile of each bean. Such a great experience! We’re really excited about working with these guys more in 2015. Afterwards we spoke more with them and asked them to share their story with us.
Tell us about your background, what were you doing before you began Cloud Picker coffee roasters?
Life before Cloud Picker was somewhat different. A monthly salary was guaranteed and weekends were our own and not spent catching up on the week just past. Peter worked in Corporate banking for Bank of Ireland here in Dublin and Frank worked as a Graphic Designer for a small but perfectly formed company called FUSE fuse.ie in Portobello, Dublin 8.
Where does your passion for coffee come from?
Peter has been operating his café in Science Gallery www.dublin.sciencegallery.com now for 5 years, it’s here that his passion for coffee ignited. Frank on the other hand was introduced to it when they visited a coffee plantation on the Thailand/Burma border. Here they met a very enthusiastic man who had been hired by the queen of Thailand back in the 70’s to introduce coffee to the country as an incentive for Opium farmers to grow coffee rather than Opium. It’s here the name Cloud Picker was born as we had to go up through the clouds to see the pickers picking coffee.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
We guess our biggest achievements to date are running two successful businesses, both the café and the roastery – but even saying that we cringe as one can close in a flash so we pinch ourselves all the time & don’t say it in a big headed but more of a humble way. Neither of us were born with sliver spoons in our mouths nor do we have rich daddies so we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved to date through hard work. It’s important to note we could not have achieved this without our amazing team both in the cafe and the roastery.
What makes your brand different from the large specialty coffee brands such as illy?
This may sound cliched but – when we say ‘hand roasted’ on our bags but it’s true. Everything we do in the roastery goes through our own hands. From manually weighing and loading the green beans, date stamping our bags to sealing the bags. We roast weekly to order and unlike the big commercials you mention we put a roast date on our bags and advise it’s best consumed within 4-6 weeks whereas the big guns put no roast date but put a shelf life of up to a year.
What makes a coffee a ‘specialty coffee’?
Coffees are graded by what we call in the trade, ‘Q Graders’ – the grader ‘cups’ the coffee and grades it accordingly. Anything from 85/100 is considered speciality.
What is your favourite way to make your coffee?
Frank – I just love my V60 – gives a very clean cup and unlike the Aeropress there is more than one cup! Perfect with some jam and whole meal brown bread!
Peter – I have to say I’m a’flatty’ lover! Can’t beat a flat white to get the day started.
Where do you source your beans from?
We source our beans from all over the ‘coffee belt’. Last year we visited Brazil and have since imported those beans and we have just returned from a trip to Central America where we visited farms in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. We feel this is very important in order to tell the full story and to see exactly where our beans come from along with seeing the hard work that’s put into farming them. As it was harvest time we were lucky to see the processing of the coffee.
Among the farmers we met was Emilio Lopez Diaz of http://cuatromcafes.com/. Emilio is the farmer of the famous El Manzano which we are proud to be roasting here in Dublin.
How do you compose your blends?
When composing our blends we first keep in mind our customer profile and what we feel the customer wants for their customer base. Different origins will have different characteristics. For example, African coffees can be very bright/acidic whereas coffees from Brazil or central America tend to be less acidic. So we first decide on the origins and then compose our blend looking for the perfect balance of acidity, sweetness and body. We roast on the light side of things – allowing the natural sugars to remain. As quoted in A Film About Coffee afilmaboutcoffee.com – “all the quality is already in the bean. From the picking and extracting process. We as roasters and baristas can’t add anything just try and take away as little as possible”.
What’s next for Cloud Picker – what plans have you got for 2015?
Well without giving too much away – Nobo will be ‘working closely’ with Cloud Picker or as people like to say nowadays ‘collaborating with’ on a very special project… watch this space! The London Coffee festival londoncoffeefestival.comis coming up shortly so a trip to London may be in order and in September we will have the second Dublin Tea & Coffee Festival which was a great success last year. www.dublincoffeefestival.com