A coffee roasting company established in Keswick during the coronavirus crisis has this month launched a subscription service.
Darkhouse Coffee Roasters, which is based at the town’s Sunset Hill, has already started processing orders from Japan, Hong Kong and the Czech Republic through its online store.
The business was set up by trained barista Jiri Buchtela, who learned the coffee roasting trade in the Czech Republic before honing his skills in the basement of Merienda’s Café in Cockermouth. He was joined by Neil Doran, whose business background is in procurement and the sustainable sourcing of materials.
They have teamed up to source their coffee from importers based in Kendal (Rwenzori Coffee) and Tebay (Cal’s Coffee) and are already supplying their products to a number of Keswick cafes and bars, including Kat’s Kitchen, Crafty Baa, Bar eS, Chintys, Merienda’s, Overwater Hall and The Square Orange.
Neil says the speciality Kisinga coffee from Uganda — available in The Square Orange — has been extremely popular.
“It tastes of strawberry and is without doubt the best tasting black filter coffee I’ve ever tasted,” he said.
Darkhouse uses only ethically sourced coffee beans from Brazil and Uganda which are hand-roasted to produce its high-quality product, including its signature blend called Wild Camp, which is being widely sold around Keswick.
Neil said the ethos of the business is sustainability — minimise environmental impact, plastic free and using only directly sourced coffee beans, ensuring a fair wage to the workers at the coffee plantations.
“For example, we have introduced a glass jar for coffee refills to try to eliminate packaging entirely,” said Neil. “Eighty per cent of our coffee supplied to cafes is in reusable containers.
“When you roast coffee you get a by-product called chaff (can be used as animal feed or fertiliser) which we give to a local farmer for free. From it you can also produce logs that burn really well and that is something we are looking at.
“We have the ambition to look at the whole coffee cycle and its sustainability to try to get that zero impact on the environment.”
He added: “We could not have done this without the mentality of the local community to buy local. It has given us the platform to establish the business so the next step for us is in the subscription process.”
The subscription service offers limited edition speciality roasts to customers such as Kisinga and Kaingwe, grown in the Rwenzori Mountains of western Uganda.
Anyone joining will get a monthly delivery of one bag of Wild Camp and one bag of speciality coffee. To celebrate, the business is offering a discounted introduction of £10 for the first month.