Meeting our makers: Edgcumbes Coffee Roasters
If you ask us, a good breakfast isn’t complete without a cup of really great coffee, which is why we’re so proud of our coffee at Billy’s On The Road. We’ve good reason to be: Billy chose the blend herself and we have it freshly roasted by our friends at Edgcumbes, just down the road in Arundel.
When Frank Edgcumbes Rendle gave up trading tea and jute in Calcutta in 1981 and returned to the UK, he was less than impressed with the lack of loose-leaf tea. What started with a few bags of tea hand-blended by Frank at his kitchen table soon became his business, and coffee was added to the repertoire not long after. Thirty-five years on, his daughter-in-law Alice Rendle is at the helm, and the family still believes passionately in freshly roasted coffee and hand-blended loose leaf tea.
Alice’s number one coffee rule is that it should always be freshly roasted to order. As she says, you wouldn’t eat stale bread, so you should make the effort to seek out fresh coffee! At the Edgcumbes roastery near Arundel, the state-of-the-art coffee roaster (named Big Bertha) roasts up to half a tonne of coffee each day: clearly their freshly-roasted philosophy has plenty of fans.
Billy, of course, is one of their biggest supporters – so much so that when she opened Billy’s On The Road, she went straight to Alice to find the perfect blend to serve to her customers. Alice remembers trying lots of different blends until they hit on the ideal mix, containing beans from South America, Africa and Asia for a truly international cup of coffee. Billy’s Blend went on to win a two-star gold Great Taste award in 2015, one of the most prestigious food industry accolades – so next time you order your latte, you’ll know it’s a pretty special brew!
As well as the Billy’s Blend of Brazilian, Colombian, Kenyan and Indian Monsoon Malabar beans, Alice particularly favours Central South American styles for her own morning brew. Guatemalan, Colombian, and Nicaraguan coffees have a wonderful chocolatey, almost nutty flavour, she says, and when tasted fresh they are remarkably fruity too.
One of the perks of Alice’s job is that she gets to travel to some amazing places – she’s recently been to Vietnam and Colombia, and is planning to head out to Mexico this year. But it’s not just to soak up the sunshine with a cup of the local brew: Edgcumbes is committed to sourcing its beans from sustainable growers and small farms. By visiting the suppliers herself, Alice knows exactly how her beans are produced, which is why Edgcumbes boasts certifications from the Rainforest Alliance and the Fairtrade Foundation.
Believe it or not, exotic travel isn’t Alice’s favourite part of her job (though we’re sure it’s up there). She most enjoys meeting the people who come into the Edgcumbes Roastery shop, showing them how Edgcumbes roasts its coffee, telling them all about the different kinds of coffees and teas and the ways they can be brewed. She also loves working with like-minded businesses, such as Billy’s On The Road, to champion great quality coffee with a sustainable and ethical provenance.
When she’s not thinking about coffee and tea, Alice loves spending time at Climping Beach, just a few miles away from the Roastery, or following her two musician sons around the country on the festival circuit. And if she could host her ultimate coffee morning, she’d get all four of her sons together for an al fresco gig with cake on demand and, of course, all the tea and coffee they could drink! We’ll raise a cup to that.