Updated: Nov 4, 2021
In the Kentish countryside, you’ll see smoke and coffee chaff rising from the chimney of the Bean Smitten Coffee Roastery. The aroma of roasting coffee beans will have you following your nose to notes of chocolate, popcorn, caramel and more as the beans turn brown and crack in the rotating barrel of the Giesen roaster. We bring you a Day in the Life of Bean Smitten Coffee Roasters!
Founded by former accountant Darren Tickner in 2014, Bean Smitten is run on the principle of making speciality coffee accessible for all. We’re proud to supply a growing wholesale customer portfolio of cafes, restaurants, mobile coffee businesses with a busy e-commerce side as well.
Winning three Great Taste Awards for three of our coffee blends and being a Taste of Kent Award finalist, gives us the confidence that we’re bringing you really good coffee.
But first, Coffee
Opening up the coffee roastery requires an early start. The team prep for a day of roasting and collate the orders that have come in overnight. As we go around the roastery, one of the first things we do is turn our big Sanremo coffee machine on as it can take half an hour to warm up.
Before we turn the roaster on it needs to be clean and empty of coffee chaff. On a previous day’s roasting schedule the roaster can be full to the brim. We have a designated hoover for this job and afterwards the nitrogen rich chaff gets emptied into big sacks, to be used by customers in their gardens or allotments.
Once the roaster is empty and clean, we turn on the gas and ignite the flame to warm it up.
Meanwhile another member of the Bean Smitten Coffee Roasters team, weighs the buckets of the coffee we have in stock. We work out from the stock totals and the new orders, how much of each coffee we need to roast to fulfill everything . This then goes on a prioritised roasting schedule for the day, and the empty buckets get cleaned ready for the day’s roasts.
But first, coffee…… round about now, the coffee machine has heated up enough, so the team have their first cup of coffee of the day.
Flat white's are a team favourite, sometimes decaffeinated and increasingly with alternative milks. Occasionally, we might be treated to bacon sarnie, or one of the team's homemade cakes.
Everything is now alright with the world and we’re ready to start roasting!
Weighing out the green
Our sacks of green beans are pre-ordered and held at our supplier’s warehouse. We call them over when we need them, which happens about every two weeks.
With the roasting schedule in hand, we start weighing out the green beans into the cleaned buckets.
Our Blends each follow certain recipes that Darren has worked out over a number of “cupping” sessions (tasting sessions). We usually weigh these out in larger batches than our Single Origin coffees e.g. a Brazil, Tanzania or Rwanda, as we tend to need far more of our blends for wholesale customers, cafes and restaurants etc.
We line up the roasts in order of required roasting time. Decaf first, single origins and then our blends.
Our three Great Taste Award Winning blends are available year-round. We have our Classic, with chocolate and hazelnut notes, smooth and sweet; our stronger Revive, with flavours of dark chocolate, caramel and brown sugar; and our slightly floral, lighter Contemporary to choose from.
The rest of our range is made up of seasonal, single estate coffees from around the world that change throughout the year. We always stock a naturally decaffeinated coffee too, so no one has to miss out.
Check out our current range of coffees here.
The Roasting process
We roast in small batches several times a week, guaranteeing our coffee is always fresh. It is Darren’s view that roasting coffee beans is 50% craft and 50% science. Like baking that perfect cake or fermenting wine, it involves skill and knowledge.
With years of roasting experience between us, the Bean Smitten Coffee Roasters team take an artisanal approach whilst harnessing the latest technology to ensure roasts are consistently delicious.
Every one of our coffees has an individual roasting time. The first few roasts of each coffee are taste compared and used to carve out a roasting profile which we track on coffee roasting software. This is then used as a reference whenever we roast that particular coffee. That way, we know we are getting the flavours we want from it time after time.
We’re always keeping a watchful eye as the beans are tossed about, creating their rhythmic percussion sounds in the air, ready to tweak the roaster temperature by hand if needed. On average, each roast takes between 13-15 minutes, therefore we can achieve up to 4-5 roasts an hour.
Nearing the end of the roast, the team member on roasting duty is on standby, ready to release the hot beans when it’s time, letting them spill out the belly of the roaster into the revolving arms of the hypnotic cooling tray.
Once the finished weights have been recorded, the batches sit for a while to release some of the gases that the roasting process induces.
It's mid-morning in the Day in the Life of Bean Smitten Coffee Roasters and the roastery is in full swing. We are 6 batches down on the roaster and yet we continue to weigh out more green beans for roasting.
We’ll also be stamping and labelling coffee bags to coincide with the mixture of orders, wholesale and e-commerce, going out that day.
Any customer emails get answered and our carbon neutral courier for the majority of our wholesale orders is booked. We also drop off some local wholesale orders and some come and collect from us too. The rest of our orders are e-commerce, which either get collected from us directly by the customer, or go out by Royal Mail.
It’s about now that we all have our second coffee of the day. This might be a cafetiere of a new coffee we have or a small cupping session, taste testing a new profile of coffee.
Since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak, we have seen a significant increase in the number of people ordering their coffee from us online. We are grateful for this whilst being mindful of the on-going challenges faced by our wholesale customers, who operate cafes and coffee shops.
We launched a flexible coffee subscription service in 2020, bringing people the convenience of having one less thing to think about during the pandemic. On signing up, you’ll receive regular deliveries of coffee straight to your door as often as you choose and the freedom to adjust it whenever you like.
Conscious of our responsibilities towards customers and our team, we have reconfigured the roastery so that it is a 'COVID-19 Secure' workplace. The roastery remains closed to the general public at the moment, however with our big and beautiful Sanremo Espresso machine hot and raring to go by 8.30/9am, we can welcome visitors to our Roastery’s outside serving hatch for takeaway coffees and bags of beans. We ask for masks to be worn and sanitiser is there for your convenience.
Being based on a campsite, during the peak seasons we can have a queue outside for morning coffees!
We’re looking forward to the day we can have an open house event again at the Roastery and invite people in to see the Roaster at work, join in on tasting sessions and talk all things coffee with us!
In the middle
It's 2pm in a Day in the Life of Bean Smitten Coffee Roasters and most of the wholesale orders will have been roasted, bagged and packed, ready to be collected by the courier.
After about 5hrs of roasting, the gas and the roaster are finally switched off. The roaster needs to cool down. It can get up to temperatures of nearly 30 degrees in the roastery in the height of summer with the roaster kicking out heat.
It makes a whirring noise as it’s switched off, like a robot being turned off and its head and arms all drooping forwards slowly. The fans inside go on for a while afterwards, busy cooling, while we go and turn the gas off.
It’s quieter now, team members can talk to each other without having to raise their voices, as they busy themselves with finishing orders, tidying things away and carrying out admin.
If not out for the afternoon visiting a wholesale customer, this is the time Darren gets to properly sit down and attend to things that need to be done – either the accounts, calling more green coffee over from the warehouse or talking to new wholesale customers.
We work with a diverse range of businesses across Kent and East Sussex, supporting our customers with onsite barista training, arranging equipment rental if needed, and providing on-going support and advice as their business needs change over time. During lockdown we even hosted a few barista training sessions over Zoom!
At the end of the roasting day
Once all the orders have been fulfilled and packed inside the mail sack, one of the team members leaves to drop it off at the nearest Royal Mail depot.
The rest of the team clean and tidy, getting the roastery back to how it was first thing. We try not to waste anything here at the roastery. Socially responsible choices help us make sure we are using sustainable sources, reducing, reusing and recycling wherever possible, diminishing our environmental footprint.
As well as reusing the coffee chaff and choosing to partner with a carbon neutral courier, our empty coffee sacks and wooden pallets get reused and our spent coffee grounds go into the campsite composter.
We like to encourage our customers to return their empty coffee bags to be reused once or twice before we send them off to be recycled for us by the fantastic Terracycle UK. We also ask local customers to bring their own containers to fill when buying beans or grounds in exchange for a discount. Every little helps! Work here is on-going. We will always be searching for ways to improve our sustainability as a business. Read more about our sustainability here in our blog .
With the roastery swept and clean it’s time to call it a day. Darren checks everything is off and locks up, ready for another day of roasting tomorrow.
We hope you enjoyed reading A Day in the Life of Bean Smitten Coffee Roasters! If you have any questions don't hesitate to get in touch using our Contact Form on our About Us page. You'll also find our opening times there and directions if you're intending to visit us in person. And, we still have a good, old fashioned telephone. Call us on 01892 281060.
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