Bryan Unkles and Steve Hampshire
Bryan Unkles is brewing up the perfect recipe for a booming coffee business in the heart of Sheffield.
When Bryan Unkles launched his own coffee company 15 years ago, he would not have dared to speculate that so many people in Great Britain would share his dream of finding the perfect cup of java.
But as it happened the timing could not have been better. Cafeology was launched in 2003 and was perfectly placed to surf the wave as British people decided to ditch that jar of instant and embrace the rich, fragrant world of coffee beans, fragrant brews, frothy cappuccinos and deep, powerful espressos.
Bryan moved from Glasgow to Hope Valley when he was four and has lived in Dore since leaving school. He is proud of his local roots and Cafeology is proud to bear the Made in Sheffield hallmark of quality. It provides bespoke ethically sourced speciality grade coffee to cafes, restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, universities and garden centres, to name but a few, in venues not only across Sheffield and North Derbyshire but right across the country.
And it’s not just the coffee. From barista training to providing, installing and maintaining the perfect equipment to match your market, Cafeology has grown consistently over the years to become an established and well-respected one-stop shop for all your coffee needs.
But in one respect it has remained one of the region’s best-kept secrets. “People drink our coffee and recognise the Cafeology logo but they still don’t think of us as a Sheffield company,” says Bryan.
Hopefully that misconception will change over time, and with the recent launch of Roastology, a state-of-art coffee roastery at Cafeology’s distribution centre in Sheffield, the Cafeology team is perfectly poised to bring the finest cup of coffee possible within the reach of everyone, from individuals to businesses.
Bryan says: “From the start Cafeology was all about Fairtrade and quality. I set the business up with my business partner Andy McClatchey, in the year that my mum passed away. That was the catalyst for me to do something for myself instead of working for a large Italian Espresso coffee company.
“As the years passed and as Fairtrade became the norm across the industry, we began to dig deeper into direct trade which in turn allowed us to develop strong and sustainable relationships with our growers across Latin America. This in turn provides full traceability and access to a host of information from the farms which we work with.
Steve Hampshire was working front of house at the Cricket Inn in Totley before he joined the company five years ago in distribution and logistics.
“I thought I knew how to make a cup of coffee from my time working in restaurants,” he laughs. “It turned out I had a lot to learn.”
It’s fair to say that over the last five years any gaps in Steve’s knowledge have been filled. He’s travelled the world to meet coffee growers and has formally achieved expert status. He is now accredited by the SCA (Specialist Coffee Association) which means he is qualified to roast and teach.
Steve put on a coffee cupping session just for my benefit and as we sniffed, sucked and slurped our way through different blends, searching for hints of cinnamon, bunt toffee or red berries, it was clear I was being guided by a true master of the craft.
Steve has been instrumental in many of the exquisite blends including Barrel aged coffee where green coffee is matured in oak Whisky and Bourbon casks and the Aviator blend which has just been awarded 3* (the highest accolade) at the 2018 Great Taste Awards.
This hard-earned knowledge is coming in particularly handy now that Roastology has invested heavily in the latest technology, giving them complete control over the final product as key elements in the roasting process such as moisture, density, roasting temperature and the cooling process are all brought in-house
Recent purchases such as the new Diedrich IR-12 roaster and the Probat BR-2 sample roaster, the brand new Diedrich CR-35 roaster and clever pieces of kit like the Sinar Beanpro, all help to ensure quality control and consistency, whether they are producing the popular branded coffees available in busy cafes or smaller batches for high end individual restaurants that want their own unique blend to serve to diners.
But all this hard work in Sheffield would count for nothing if the coffee beans coming from overseas were of variable quality, and many air miles have been accumulated building up a relationship with key suppliers.
“Next year will be our 10th anniversary of working with the same producer in Colombia - a fantastic group called Asoapia run by Francisco Herrera. He’s based in the Risaralda National Park, a stunning region close to the town of Pereira. The associates are achieving the highest cup scores ever with the farms being clean and immaculate with amazing consistency,” says Bryan
“We share the same goals - he doesn’t want to be the biggest, just the best. We’ve funded trips for him to come over here and see what we do and there’s a massive element of trust now - he’s not just a business contact, he’s a good friend. We look forward to hosting Francisco next year as we celebrate 10 years in partnership ”
The Roastery, just a few minutes from Meadowhall, is perfectly placed for distribution. It’s also spacious enough to be a multi-use site with a tasting room cleverly adapted from one of the metal containers similar to the ones the coffee sacks arrive in. (Amazingly, these containers are ‘single use’ and would otherwise be melted down.)
There’s also room for a Training Centre where clients can come and learn to operate various types of Italian-made coffee machines, making sure they are just right for their business. From barrista training to business advice, it’s all in Sheffield under one roof.
Oh, and did I mention they also make a great cup of coffee? See HERE for more information on Cafeology/Roastery.