Ask the Roaster - Carola from Pharmacie Coffee Roasters
How was the Roastery founded, what was the inspiration?
Opening a coffee roastery in the southeast was always the dream for the managing director of Pharmacie, Rick Curtis, who was a coffee drinking regular at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, Oregon, where he used to watch Duane Sorensen roast coffee inside his little coffee house on Division Street. After 5 years of running his coffee shops in Brighton, the dream to start roasting became an opportunity by a series of fortune and misfortune combined (like all the best stories) and the availability of an old car repair shop.
We converted an old car mechanics down a 19th century cobbled mews to a creative roasting space and coffeehouse that garnered a cult following in Hove and beyond. The name ‘Pharmacie’ was inspired by Stumptown, who had a ‘Drugs’ sign hanging inside their coffee roastery. Hence, why else would you keep a 1970s French pharmacie sign behind your couch for 2 years unless you were going to call your coffee roastery after it?! Add to that the balanced scales as our logo and the Pharmacie brand as it exists today was born. It fits well, as coffee of course is an excellent drug, controlled by precise weights and measures, and we think the roast and resulting brew should be a balancing act of coffee fruit flavours.
In 2021 we moved to the Cliffe Industrial Estate in Lewes. The move was partly motivated by the need to spread our wings, take on bigger projects like the Pharmacie Kitchen, social bike rides, public and private events, coffee training, live music, art exhibitions, etc., but also to keep a more respectful distance from our neighbours who love us but weren’t always so happy to be living next door to an industrial coffee roastery.
What's your favourite part about working at the Roastery?
I got into coffee in 2007 by coincidence but it’s become a bit of a passion since. My favourite part is the excitement of getting new coffees in, creating a unique roast profile for every coffee and seeing people enjoy the result.
What's your proudest accomplishment?
Considering recent times I’d say the roastery move to our new space in Lewes was a big accomplishment because it moved us out of our comfort zone and involved a lot of planning and design and support from the local community, to whom we’re very grateful. The move finally allows us to grow the business and connect with more people in ways we only dreamed of before.
What three words best describe your Roastery?
Vibrant - Passionate - Highly-Caffeinated
What’s your favourite place to enjoy a coffee, and what coffee would that be?
Actually, over the last few months I’ve come to really enjoy my first coffee early in the morning at the roastery, usually a flat white, although I am still a big fan of delicious fruity hand brewed filter coffees.
What is your favourite snack or treat to have to accompany your coffee?
Definitely something sweet!
What would you drink if there was no coffee?
I don’t even want to imagine a world without coffee, although I do enjoy a nice cup of tea as well!
What's your favourite tasting notes to find in coffee?
I’m not sure I have a favourite tasting note, I generally enjoy having coffees with a long-lasting finish, something that makes you think ‘damn that was nice’ for ages after the coffee is already gone.
Where would you recommend for food and drink in your local area?
Our new roastery under the cliffs of Lewes for a weekend brunch! Alternatively, our former slot roasters Nelson have opened their own roastery in Eastbourne now and their food is amazing!
Finally, what Dog & Hat combination would you choose?
This sounds silly, parents will understand! :)
I have 2 children and we’ve been watching a lot of ‘Bluey’ recently. One of my favourite characters from that show is Snickers the sausage dog, who is most often pictured with a yellow and green baseball sunhat. This is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of dogs and hats.