Ask the Roaster - Matt from River City Coffee
How was the Roastery founded, what was the inspiration?
I started River City Coffee in 2016 after needing a career / lifestyle change with more self control over my working pattern / hours to help my daughter attend a special needs school. I’d been travelling to London for years to see friends and fell in love with the world of coffee there early on. Every time I came back ‘up north’ to Hull it was really hard to find good, locally roasted coffee (at a decent price!) so I started roasting coffee at home as a hobby and honed my skills and understanding of this complex new obsession. When I got the call from the school perfectly suited to my daughters needs I took it as a sign to finally take the plunge, ditch the 9-5 and get after the dream that had been brewing in my head for a couple of years. Countless calls to suppliers, equipment manufacturers, the local council, a very busy summer converting my garage at home into a micro-roastery and a LOT of terrible trial roasts on my new 5kg roaster….and River City Coffee was born.
What's your favourite part about working at the Roastery?
Roasting any new coffee is always a highlight. Every origin, processing method, density, screen size etc throws up a myriad of challenges that test and expand our knowledge of roasting as a full supply chain length process. The smell of first crack of a coffee never before known to us at the roastery is amazing, getting to be the first person to smell what that coffee might taste like and see if we nailed the roast profile is awesome. It also helps us better understand and build on our knowledge and skill set to keep pushing the bar or experimenting with our approach with current and future coffee. We’re always learning and willing to fail in the search of something amazing.
What's your proudest accomplishment?
That’s so tough to choose! It’s a tied first place. The day outgrew the micro-roastery and moved everything out of the garage to a commercial scale roastery I’d physically built myself was mind blowing, it really felt like we’d made it. Then in 2020 we won a Great Taste award for a coffee that we’d been working directly with the farmers in Uganda on since the first days of River City. That felt like years of work, trials, failures and mutual knowledge growth from the growers, the farmers and us had finally been verified objectively and we didn’t have imposter syndrome anymore…well, a bit less anyway!.
What three words best describe your Roastery?Positive - Meticulous - Fun
What’s your favourite place to enjoy a coffee, and what coffee would that be?
There are so many good places around now but for me the best is at home with my dog and daughter relaxing with a book. I love anything funky and fruity but nothing too acidic. so a perfect cup would be something like an anaerobic geisha, maybe Peru, brewed on a pour over.
What is your favourite snack or treat to have to accompany your coffee?
As a roaster we supply some of the best cafes and bakeries around so we’re spoiled for choice! A vegan doughnut or croissant with a cheeky flat white is pretty hard to beat.
What would you drink if there was no coffee?
Regret, pure liquid regret.
What is your favourite tasting notes to find in coffee?
Funk. Anything fruity, sweet or that you’re not expecting to find there. That floats my boat.
Where would you recommend for food and drink in your local area?
Again, spoiled for choice! Revival Coffee & Donuts are the best vegan treats around. Flour & Feast Bakery are just insane for freshly baked amazingness. Zoo Café is our go-to place for a veggie/vegan brekkie to die for with Black Market Coffee, 42nd East Bakehouse and Fattburger all playing a strong part in the local indie scene around here too. But seriously, Hulls indie food scene is crazy strong, there are so many more places that could be on the list too.
Finally, what Dog & Hat combination would you choose?
My Lab/Collie cross is called Sherlock so I’d have to say a Labrador in a Deerstalker…complete with pipe.