Ask the Roaster - Stephen from Bailies Coffee Roasters
How was the Roastery founded, what was the inspiration?
The Roastery was founded over 20 years by ago by our Managing Director Russell Bailie. At the time, there really wasn’t a coffee scene of any sort but through travelling and seeing coffee culture around the world, Russell set about bringing a little of that to Belfast and beyond. There’s always been a ‘wee country’ mentality here which can manifest itself in a lack of confidence sometimes but in establishing the roastery, Russell always had the vision of challenging that with the belief that we can and will do world class coffee. We’ve moved premises in that time too – we used to be in a small base close to the docks and we’ve moved several years ago to a purpose-built roastery which allows us to house all of the things that we feel are essential to good coffee so we now have a machine showroom, a training academy, engineers’ workshop and of course the roastery itself.
What's your favourite part about working at the Roastery?
It’s probably the combination of a few things. It’s the fact that we set very high standards for ourselves, that we seek to be world class but yet, we are still a family at heart. I think that’s a hard balance to strike but the fact that we are so close, that many of us have been here a long time and enjoy working with each other makes that pressure we put on ourselves a positive thing.
What's your proudest accomplishment?
We’ve won a range of Great Taste, barista championships and brewer’s cup championships and for sure, they are a nice recognition that we’re doing something right. However, and it will sound like a cliché, what makes us proud and does so on a regular basis is when we meet with our farming partners around the world, spend the time to understand them, their agronomy and their coffee and bring that coffee to Belfast to roast in the way that respects their wishes and to see how that brings a moment of escape for the people who are drinking our coffee. The nature of social channels such as Instagram gives us a real window into how people enjoy our coffee and seeing that makes us really proud, particularly when see our coffee popping up across the world!
What three words best describe your Roastery?
Family - because that’s how we are together and how we feel about the coffee shops and people who drink our coffee.
Respectful - because we respect our farming partners, we respect the science and preparation of coffee.
World-class - because every day that’s the challenge we set ourselves.
What’s your favourite place to enjoy a coffee, and what coffee would that be?
I'm always a fan of having a well made cup at home, but my favourite way of making coffee is when I get out on my bicycle. I'll pack up my hand grinder, camping stove, kettle, coffee and my aeropress and head out for a spin. Living just outside Belfast means I'm pretty close to some great country side and I find nothing better that taking a spin out of city to a woodland, riverbank or lake and setting up a pop up brew bar! There's something really great about making a cup of coffee while being outdoors and for me is a great instagram post! My cycle coffee of choice at the moment would have to be the Honduras Las Flores, its a balanced, sweet and tasty honey processed coffee. Tastes great through the aeropress too, a good solid coffee choice wherever it’s brewed!
Finally, what Dog & Hat combination would you choose?
Well, we’d have to settle for something Irish wouldn’t we?! It’s got to be a Red Setter in an Irish newsboy cap…