Union Hand Roasters have pioneered direct trade coffee of since 2001. Their knowledge of green coffee buying and the issues affecting coffee producers and their communities is second to none. Union’s coffee roastery is in Star Lane in East London and recently the chance came to acquire the building next door. Founders Jeremy Torz and Steven Macatonia created an office, event and training space adjacent to their roastery. Welcome to Union Campus!
What they've created is a bright and airy Californian-style lobby, a spacious event space, an SCAE accredited barista training lab, and roasting training centre - all under the supervision of Campus General Manager David Jameson and barista trainer Edita Chordarcevic. David, who has been working in coffee since 2006, is the current UK Coffee in Good Spirits champion and finished 6th in the World in Shanghai. Edita, originally from Lithuania, is a qualified sensory judge and SCAE accredited trainer and is passionate about home roasting.
The recent launch party made excellent use of the space with talks, coffee tasting (including recently arrived Guatemalan microlots, pizza, coffee cocktails, beer and a Linea mini lounge – both courtesy La Marzocco UK. Campus proved itself a brilliantly designed event space – fortunately only a few minutes from Stratford on the DLR, and we particularly enjoyed the three legged latte art competition using latte art dice.
It was also a great event to catch up with industry friends from Union, La Marzocco UK, Amoret Coffee, Giddy Up Coffee, Saint Espresso, Ikawa, Caffeine magazine, Volcano, Modern Standard and others. On a separate visit we were led on a behind the scenes tour, tasting coffee and roasting our own bag while being well looked after by Edita, David, Jeremy and the team. We can certainly recommend Union Campus.
When you see a café’s name on the roasted coffee there it can mean one of three things: the cafe owns a roaster and roasts their own, a cafe rents slot roasting spots at another roastery, or a cafe selects green beans and has them roasted by a roaster to their specs and then sometimes sold under the cafes branding - such as Amoret using Curve and Campbell and Syme (though not rebranding), Hej using Modern Standard and Gentleman Baristas using various roasters including Wogan Coffee and Neighbourhood Coffee.
Union have bridged the gap between slot roasting and training, offering roasting training, supported roasting or slot roasting or something along the continuum. The big advantage is the ability to allow coffeeshops looking to roast the opportunity to choose their green beans, roast their own coffee, create their own printed labelling packaging and vacuum seal the bags. Their professional cupping lab comes equipped with a cupping table with a velvet cupping spoon drawer and an Ikawa sample roaster.
Courses available for baristas include theory and practical training covering brewing techniques and roasting, cupping training and SCAE Diploma Modules. Union’s courses are designed to improve baristas’ knowledge and brewing skills, and training ranges from guiding a novice barista to a potential company coffee trainer, or training for barista competitions.
Coffee shops can benefit from access to Union Hand-Roasted Coffee’s sourcing capability, roastery hire, packing facilities and materials, and the opportunity to develop signature blends and exclusive microlots, enabling them to take ownership of their coffee offering.
Dave Jameson deserves the final word: “We have over 15 years of experience in sourcing and roasting great speciality coffee. Baristas and café owners are becoming ever more excited by the details of the sourcing and production of their coffee, and in many cases are looking to become more involved as well. We want to inspire a new generation of roasters by sharing some of the knowledge we have built up. The new roasting courses and facility for hire are designed for those customers interested in creating their own coffee, but who don’t feel ready, able or confident enough to invest in their own roastery. Through this new facility, and our Union Direct Trade* sourcing ability, they can access some of the best green coffee available, and serve it with their own style, developing their own signature blends and roasts and take that extra ownership step in their supply chain.”
*Union Coffee sources its coffee based on the ‘Union Direct Trade’ principle, signifying direct partnerships with producers and farmers to improve quality of coffee and livelihoods long-term, and a baseline premium 25% above the International Fairtrade minimum price.