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Saturday, September 14, 2019


GUEST BLOG / By Paola and Andrew Willis, owners of Carrow Coffee Roasters, County Sligo, Ireland (above photo).

Carrow Coffee Roasters is a start-up roastery located on Carrowgarry, his grandfather’s farm in the West of Ireland, perched on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and circled by ancient forests and Neolithic sites.  The following is from Carrow’s blog and website.  Click here    

Carrowgarry Farm, County Sligo, Ireland and home of Carrow Coffee Roasters
:“...We constantly strive to source the best sustainably-grown beans from small-scale farmers, and then use our roasting expertise to maximize their flavour in the cup. We favour light to medium roasts that allow a bean’s intrinsic flavour to shine through.

As well as quality and craftsmanship we value our community. This is why we want our roastery to be a place for our ‘specialty coffee' community to meet and cup amazing coffees. A space to discuss coffee but also the need to preserve the omnipresent nature around us that so strongly defines the place that we live and work.

We do care. A lot.
Living in the West of Ireland means connecting with and respecting nature and those values are at the core of who we are as a business.

We are committed to reducing our environmental impact through the adoption of sustainable practices that will reduce our carbon footprint. For example, we are now supplying our wholesale customers in the Sligo area through the use of reusable food-safe buckets, reducing the use of disposable coffee bags. At markets and events we only use compostable cups and other materials and we look for suppliers that share our values.

We are also in the process of looking for more environmentally-friendly retail bags.

As for our roastery, it was essential for us to operate in a low-impact building that sits comfortably within its natural environment. The design was inspired by the intensity of light, colours and elements typical of the west coast: the heather-covered mountains, vivid greens, slate-grey skies, the howling wind and rain and awe-inspiring rainbows.

When refurbishing the building we chose renewable, durable and natural materials such as wood sourced from Irish forests. Larch is a highly resinous wood that seals itself and forms a naturally waterproof barrier against the rain. The untreated larch-clad structure reinforces the link with the surrounding environment and allows the building to age gracefully over time.

Inside plywood workbenches and shelves are rubbed with natural beeswax to make them waterproof, rather than synthetic preservatives. As we don’t use chemical-containing soaps, all water from the sink is returned to fields on the farm. Chaff from the roaster and coffee grinds are used as compost for the vegetable garden.

A step further.Finally, since we are based on a farm we are committed to growing chemical and pesticide-free delicious vegetables through our sister company Carrowgarry Farm. Returning to a family farm was part of a life project to improve our quality of life and become more connected with the place we live in. Growing vegetables and supplying our community with local, fresh and seasonal food is a way for us to do something concrete in response to current environmental and climate challenges.

Who we are. Our aim is to source top quality beans and roast them to the highest standards, favouring light to medium roasts that allow a bean’s intrinsic flavour to shine through.

Our passion for coffee grew in Colombia where we lived for four years, travelling extensively throughout the countryside to visit farms and learn about coffee production and the different processing methods.

It was a fascinating world to discover, especially as our time there coincided with a boom in specialty coffee production as farmers put greater emphasis on flavour and not just volume. Keen to stay in the world of coffee, we hatched the idea of setting up our own roasting business when we returned to Ireland. And here we are!

Andrew’s background is journalism with over a decade’s experience working throughout Europe, South America and Africa, including four years covering coffee for Bloomberg News in Colombia.

While there he developed numerous contacts with coffee growers, exporters and industry experts and started roasting coffee on his Huky 500 in the attic of our apartment in Bogota. He is now a certified Q Grader (coffee cupper), and has taken courses in Roasting and Barista Skills from the Specialty Coffee Association.

Paola is an accomplished project and communications manager in the development cooperation sector. Coffee is in her roots being born in Trieste, one of Italy’s main roasting hubs and a city where coffee aromas waft through the streets.

Place and Space. The couple won a design award at the World of Coffee event in Berlin this June.  It honored Carrow Coffee Roasters’ unique production environment  perched on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. This project was done in collaboration with photographers Manuela Schirra and Fabrizio Giraldi.

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