Stone Valley head and shoulder's picture of John Boyle & Tom Edwards

John and Tom met while working as professional musicians all over Ireland. John was a keen home barista and Tom was working as a barista with another Cork roaster. They decided to put their heads together and start their own roastery in 2017 – Stone Valley was the result.

In 2018 they opened their first bricks and mortar shop in Ashe Street in Clonakilty. All of the roasting, packing, storage and serving of coffee was done under the same roof. In 2019 they added a second premises for use as a production roastery, quality control and training space. 

In this episode we discuss their self-taught roasting journey, their desire to lighten up the specialty coffee industry whilst ensuring a high quality product and their customer focused approach to their business.

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Date:           15/08/2023  

Duration:    49:25 mins

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Geraldine Hennessy: Welcome to the Cork Creative Podcast. With this podcast, we hope to promote creative people and businesses in core. To learn more about the podcast, visit Flux Learning is a company fuelled by caffeine. We take our coffee seriously. So for our fourth series, we took the opportunity to broaden our knowledge and learn some insights into the coffee roasting industry in Cork City and county.

I’m your host, Geraldine Hennessy, and today I am joined by John Boyle and Tom Edwards from Stone Valley Coffee Roasters. In 2017 musicians, John and Tom decided to put their stamp on the world of specialty coffee. Having been baristas, roasters, and victims of instant coffee, they understand how important great coffee is to your day.

Stone Valley is all about top grade specialty coffee without the fuss. In 2018, they opened their first bricks and mortar shop in Ashe Street and Clonakilty and their business continues to flourish. In this episode, we discuss their self-taught roasting journey, their desire to lighten up the specialty coffee industry whilst ensuring a high quality product and their customer-focused approach to their business.

So you’re a very welcome to Cork Creative. Tom and John

Tom Edwards: Thank you. Thanks for having us.

Geraldine Hennessy: So can you tell us a little about how the name and brand came about?

John Boyle: So, initially Tom and I were, uh, working as, uh, musicians. We were on our way to a gig and we kind of felt like maybe we were looking for something else to do on top of what we were doing.

And so Tom at the time was working as a barista and I was very into coffee at home and so he was working for another roastery as a barista, but there wasn’t really a route there to train up as a roaster. So we just kind of said on the way to a gig in Carlow look will we buy a small roaster and you know, start there.

And so we did. So at the time Tom was living, um, what was the area called? Mountpleasant. Mountpleasant. So it’s kind of between Bandon and kinda Macroom, that sort of, mm-hmm area. And there was, you know, it was a beautiful house with like a half door and all this kinda stuff, but there was a couple of old stone sheds there.

And so very old, like, very like very old, like, you know, 200 years old. Okay. And, um, so. We said, look, we’d order a roaster and we’ll set up in there. And it was also in a valley, so stone shed’s in a valley and you know, so like it, it’s quite literal. But also, you know, I suppose we were kind of conscious day one that we didn’t want something that ties us too much into any specific thing. Okay. You know what I mean? Because we didn’t exactly know what was gonna happen. We knew we wanted to roast coffee. But it was kind of a, a name that means very little and that means, but you know, I think it’s okay. You know, I think it’s okay. You know, like, ’cause we went through a few options of, you know, various kind of puns about this and that, you know, and we’re like, no, we don’t wanna do that kind of thing.

Yeah. Just be, you know, we’re not trying to be, you know, clever or, you know, sometimes you can do it you know, based on some obscure variety of coffee. And so we didn’t want that kind of thing. So we set up Stone Valley. There’s a, a reason behind it, but not a particularly inside, it’s not the most romantic and, you know, like the shed itself.

Um, while, I mean, it was a great start. How long were we roasting there for? Oh, can you remember?

Tom Edwards: Year and a half? Yeah.

John Boyle: Thereabouts. Yeah. Yeah. Like, you know, it wasn’t a great, uh, place to work. Okay. Um, you know, it was, you know, old Yes.

Tom Edwards: Yeah. Got us going, but it was. My God. It was cold. Yeah,

03:34] John Boyle: yeah. Yeah. It was very cold in there.

See, the roaster arrived, so I mean, like you could have put it on the table mm-hmm. In front of us, and we used to get 800 grams of coffee out from every batch. Mm-hmm. Yeah. So it was really kind of starting from scratch, you know? Okay.

Tom Edwards: There was a little bit of growth there. I mean, we got our second roaster.

John Boyle: Mm-hmm. Oh yeah, that’s true.

Tom Edwards: Which was quite fun. Yeah. Trying to get that in there. Uh, it’s funny. Yeah.


Geraldine Hennessy: Why was it big or?

John Boyle: It was much bigger than what our first one was. Okay. And when you think back to just trying to get it in there, the delivery guy with this massive truck and we were on this big incline,

Oh, and I think it’s funny, we look back and as I said now, I mean at this point, so Tom had done a little bit of work in a roastery, but just packing bags and you know, working as a barista for them in markets and things. But you know, we had never really been to another roastery and learned how they work.

And so you look back on, on some of the things we did like that when that second roaster right, the bigger one. We, we left it sitting on two pallets for a year because in our

Tom Edwards: heads, I dunno why, it was almost like, well, we’re gonna be moving this again. Oh yeah. So let’s just keep it on the pallets.

John Boyle: But like, it was vibrating and, and shaking and yeah, it was terrible.

It made no sense. And you know, you look back and you’re like, wait, you know, when we got our subsequent roaster, the one we’re using now, you know, we got it with wheels. And it was like, there we are.

Geraldine Hennessy: It’s a learning curve though, isn’t it? It’s a learning curve. You, you’ll never do that again. Yeah.

John Boyle: Like, so Yeah.

When that, when that arrived in our current place, you know, we, had a big roller door. And, you know, it came off the thing and we rolled it in. We’re like, well, that was easy you know? So it was quite a, uh, yeah, quite a change from the, uh, for the first roster. But it was great because, you know, there was so much to learn.

And, and I mean, I, I don’t, I don’t roast coffee myself. That’s Tom. But, you know, getting good at it is about how many batches you do. Mm-hmm. So, you know, if we bought a massive roaster day one, you know, we could have done one batch a week. Mm-hmm. Whereas with the small one, Uh, we, you know, we might have to do 10 or 20 or 30.

So it meant that, you know, Tom built up this massive kind of well of experience mm-hmm. By doing it loads of times. Yeah. Rather than just

Tom Edwards: Exactly. I was able to make tiny changes here and there, put them aside, or a sample aside, try it out. But yeah, it was definitely great in that sense. Yeah. At the same time it was a nightmare as well.

If we got a big order Yeah. From someone.

John Boyle: Yeah. So, you know, a big, or like, I, I always remember we got an order from a shop of, uh, 40 small bags. Mm-hmm. Uh, 20 grand and 20 whole beans. And so yeah. I brought my, my grinder from my coffee machine at home, gosh, to grind the 20 bags. This is the, the best day of our lives.

Now, this is, at the time was amazing. And so you had to hold down the button when it was grinding, right? Yeah. It didn’t just do it itself. And I think it took two and a half minute, no, no, three and a half. Three and a half minutes per bag of holding it down for 250g. Oh my god. Small bag. And we had to do that to get it done.

And it was, and I mean it’s, it’s great ’cause you learn a lot or there was a time when you kicked over the bucket of roasted coffee. After you’d finished roasting

Tom Edwards: It was Cormac.

John Boyle: Oh, it was Cormac did it.

And so, you know, like, like what would be, you know, now for us, like maybe a single batch of coffee. Mm-hmm. You know, 8, 9, 10 kilos, something like that, took a long time. Mm-hmm. Even when we had the bigger roaster. Yeah. And yeah. A friend of ours came down, we were showing him around, he kicked over a bucket to look on Tom’s face, you know, so, but it was, it was a great way to learn, you know what I mean?

Yeah. Like, we really kind of built our processes and things from, from that kind of thing.

Tom Edwards: It was so nice getting those kind of orders. And it was 40 bags  I know. But to us, that was massive.

Geraldine Hennessy: Massive, yeah. At the time. Because you were small.

John Boyle: Yeah, because, you know, we had no, like, you know, we bought the roaster, that was pretty much as far as the plan went.

Mm-hmm. You know, we got a, a label designed and we bought some bags and beyond that we had no real plan for anything. So everything kind of happened pretty organically and um, you know, now we’ve, we’re much more strategic with things, but…

Geraldine Hennessy: And were you always like friends or how did that come about? Or were you always friends?

John Boyle: Are we friends now? No. Um, so at that point, so we were playing in the same band at that stage. Mm-hmm. For a good few years probably.

Tom Edwards: I’d say we knew we knew each other five, six years. Mm-hmm,around, around the scene before that.

John Boyle: Yeah. You know, you’d arrive at a gig like, “Hey man, hey man,” you know, this, you know, there’s lot of that.

Geraldine Hennessy: So it was, it was music that brought you together and cofee has continued on your relationship

Tom Edwards: As such.

John Boyle: Yeah. And like, you know, we, we still play music and everything, but Yeah. It was through that. So I, I knew Tom as a sax player. We had the same teacher. I don’t think it overlapped, but we both had the same teacher.

For a certain, uh, period of time. Mm-hmm. And that kind of thing. You know, you just know people around from the scene. And as I said, I was very into coffee at home. You know, I had my own setup and like most of this really comes through, um, the Golden Bean, uh, Mark Kingston. Mm-hmm. So that’s who Tom was working for initially, and that was. They used to have a market stall in Douglas as well.

Mm-hmm. And that’s where I first tried specialty coffee before I worked there. Yeah.

Tom Edwards: That was my first ever specialty coffee.

John Boyle:. So yeah, he was really first in, in Cork I think anyway. Mm-hmm. Him and Brock from Badger and Dodo were the two first in Cork kind of to do it. And so yeah, we both kind of came at it through different sides, but basically through Mark.

Yeah. So it’s, uh, Yeah. But, but it was really kind of through music and, and kind of independently we were in the coffee thing and you know, with the music stuff, there’s, you know, you’re always working evenings and weekends and so, you know, we were kinda saying, look, it might be nice to do something during the day ’cause um, you know, I think Tom had his first child at that stage.

Mm-hmm. I think myself and my wife were thinking we might, you know, be going that way and then, you know, with family stuff, it’s hard to be away. Yeah. Every night. Mm-hmm. And the weekends and things. And so, yeah, just kind of fit where we were. Because I mean we were doing, at the time,

Tom Edwards: We were probably doing 60, 70 weddings a year, but that wasn’t spaced out over the 12 months.

There would be nothing from January to April. Yeah. Maybe May. And then it’s all crammed in in the summer. Yeah, the summer and Christmas. So there’s weeks you’re doing, you know, four maybe five weddings. Yeah. Aside from any other pub gigs than you might do outside of the band.

John Boyle: Yeah. And then just freelance stuff and teaching and you know, it’s like, you know, it’s great.

Like we, I think we enjoyed the transition to something a bit different. Yeah. You know, but it wasn’t like, it wasn’t, you know, we didn’t, uh, do up a big business plan and seek investment and all this. Yeah. And we’re like, yeah, we’ll buy a roster and see what happens. You know? Yeah.

Geraldine Hennessy: And hasn’t it worked well?

John Boyle: Well, yeah.No. Yeah. I don’t, yeah. To be fair, I don’t think any,

Tom Edwards: Well, it’s kind of funny looking back partly…because we wanted, you know, to not be so tired yet we decided to have kids.

John Boyle: Yeah. Yeah. We kinda ruined that, so, yeah. Yeah. No, that is true. That is true. But we had lots of coffee, so it’s okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Geraldine Hennessy: You, you’re in the right business now with the kids to be fair. Yeah. Coffee and kids-good mix.

John Boyle: Yeah. When our, our first son, my wife, you know, she didn’t drink any coffee, you know, she was being all, and then, yeah. By the time we had our second second, she’s like, no. Yeah. Still when pregnant, still drinking coffee.

Had to do it. No, it worked. It worked out well. Yeah, it worked out well for that.

Geraldine Hennessy: So you touched into it there. How did you get involved in coffee

Tom Edwards: Roasting? In terms of roasting itself? Mm. There was very little out there in terms of, you know, I, I had asked a few places to show me, there was no kind of like apprenticeship or anything.

Mm-hmm. So like it mostly from when I was with Golden Bean, I just, I kind of saw the roasting process and I was like, that’s what I want to do. Mm-hmm. Um, and I kind of just wanted to do it straight away. So yeah. As John said, then we were just on the way to the gig decided just to do it together. So, oh. Trying to get any information.

Thankfully the roaster, we bought the first one, that company have their own YouTube channel. Okay. So Mill City Roasters. The name of the brand, but they have countless videos. So I basically spent nights, like at the time our TV was in the bedroom. Okay. And my wife would wake up and I, it would be literally one o’clock, two in the morning and I’d be sitting there watching stuff, taking notes and she was just like, what are you  doing?


John Boyle: “I’ve made a huge mistake. “Yeah. Yeah.

Tom Edwards: So, and then I can only describe it as like learning to drive, but not actually being in the car. Okay. And you’re, you’ve all, this theory of how a car works, how you’re supposed to start and stop. And then when we actually got the roaster, I think that was one of the funniest things ever.

Everything just went outta my head. It was…

John Boyle: It was about two months from when we ordered it to when it arrived. Okay. And so Tom was yeah studying the theory. You know, of driving.

Tom Edwards: It was kind of also pretty much one book at the time as well. Yeah. Coffee Roasters companion and that was,

John Boyle: That was pretty much it.

But you, I remember, I always remember, so we first got it in, we got the gas fitted and we got the, the exhausts in and all this. So you know, watched all the videos. We turned it on. I mean, one thing they don’t cover in the videos is that there’s an alarm that goes off when it hits a certain temperature. So you know, see if you start temperature, you set it at wherever. When it’s 200, the alarm goes off. Now we thought it was about to explode, so it’s warming up, burning,lighting, this alarm goes off. So, yeah, I think. Tom ran to the roaster. We just, we just switched everything off. Yeah. Oh, turned off the Roaster ran outside, turned off the gas. Okay. We’re gonna leave Cool down.

Tom Edwards: Yeah, we’re gonna leave it cool down and then we’ll do it again. So, turned out again. Got temperature

John Boyle: beep beep. Oh. This happened like three times before. We’re like, okay, maybe we should ring someone.Yeah. And then, and then there was the first batches of coffee.

Tom Edwards: Yeah. So we, Oh, did we, we we basically scraped money together to buy two sacks.

Yeah. Uh, two 70 kilo sacks of coffee. And Yeah. The first, I’m gonna say, I don’t have many batches. Maybe 10 batches. Mm-hmm. Pretty bad. Oh yeah. Yeah.

John Boyle: I think Tom’s underselling how bad they were there, though. That’s coffee.

Tom Edwards: You do this thing called cupping where some people would do it just to try a coffee or you’ll do it to as a form of qc.

So yeah. When brought into the house, John came down with his wife. My wife was there, and we’re all excited for our first cupping and. No. I think maybe looking back you, you were probably nice about it. Yeah.

John Boyle: But I think everyone in the room was like, this isn’t very good.

I wasn’t nice when we left.

But you know, I mean like, you know, it was always gonna be the case. You know what I mean?

Geraldine Hennessy: Like Yeah, yeah. It’s a learning curve. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You can’t be brilliant at it straight away, to be fair.

John Boyle: Yeah. Unfortunately. Yeah. And we knew we had, you know, we knew we had good raw materials. Yeah. We knew the roaster was good and so it just took a bit of time to, to get, you know, I, it didn’t take that much time.

Mm-hmm. And I mean, what was great was we had no customers, so Yeah. Um, you know, there wasn’t, uh, just your taste buds. Yeah. By the time we got, yeah, kinda halfway through that first sac we were kind of like, it was okay. Mm-hmm. It was servable and obviously got significantly better then. But yeah. Obviously.

Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Tom Edwards: But then again, as John said, that was the good thing about having the roaster that size was that I, I could do so many batches and just try little things here and there.

John Boyle: So like, you know, I just got better faster than on a bigger roaster. As when you’d end up putting maybe 10 kilos of coffee after you roast,there’s no chance to tweak it. Mm-hmm. So like in that case, we would’ve only got seven batches outta that first sack. And then, you know, like, what can you really do with that? Yeah. And then you’re left with all this coffee you have to sell and Yeah. You know, so it actually was a good way to start.

Tom Edwards: Yeah.

And again, because it was such a small roaster, if there was a batch Iwasn’t delighted about, you know, it was only a kilo and maybe 8.6 grams out. Yeah. So we just give that to some family. Yeah. They, they’ll drink it. They were delighted with it. You, yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. There was never any hassle getting  rid of that.

Geraldine Hennessy: So you have definitely one of the most eye-catching shop fronts in Clonakilty town. My son adores it. Um, how did you develop your brand identity and how do you define yourself?

John Boyle: So I think we were kind of thinking consciously when it comes to brand identity. So when we first started, a lot of people think we opened when we painted the shop.

Okay. But we opened maybe 10 months before that. Yeah. And it was kind of olive green. Mm-hmm. And so everything in the shop, you know, and it was the same in the brand on the bags and everything was very much kind of inspired or kind of stolen from kind of, you know, Nordic coffee roasters, and it’s all very minimalist and very cool.

Kinda at a moment when we realized, you know, this means nothing to us. Mm-hmm. You know what I mean? It was inauthentic and it was just, you know, we’re just kind plagiarizing ideas. So we kinda stood back a bit and we’re like, okay, look, let’s bring a bit of color in. And a bit of just, yeah, a bit of something kind of unique. Just a bit of fun. Just a bit of fun. So it was so serious and boring the way it was. Yeah. Like the idea with the brand was that, you know, the, the shop front, let’s say. Um, so we got, um, Deirdre Breen, uh, was an amazing artist in Cork City to do the design of it. And we kind of gave her no brief and we just said, look, just do your thing.

And it’s not tied into our, you know, brand mission statement. It’s just, it looks nice.

Tom Edwards: She’s a cool artist. Yeah. And we just wanted something funky.

Geraldine Hennessy: Um, but it’s kind of reflective though, of your personality, like looking at your website and your shopfront, they’re kind of cool. Like, you know, I think there is kind of…

Tom Edwards: I feel like  that’s always kind of been our thing though.Yeah. Like I said, we, we just want coffee to be. Just a bit more fun. Yeah. Because everyone’s so serious about it.

John Boyle: Yeah. There’s a lot of black and white and a lot of kind of Yeah. You know, very Right.

Tom Edwards:  “Here at blah, blah coffee roasters, and we strive for quality….” Everyone does.

John Boyle: We do.

Tom Edwards:  And we do, but I think people just get a bit bored reading that over.

Geraldine Hennessy: Yeah. Okay.

John Boyle: And you know, at the end of the day, a shop run that kind of jumps out a bit is, is a good thing, you know. Mm-hmm. Our, our, you know, we, like, we work with our normal designer, uh, Jimmy Hanaran, who does our bags and, and all that. And like, I don’t think that our, you know, our logo text or our bag labels and the shop particularly tied together.

Mm-hmm. That’s okay. Yeah. Yeah. You know what I mean? Like it’s, you know, it’s, I think, you know, sometimes you have to, you know, like the Nike, the Swoosh or the Coca-Cola thing, right? It’s a single thing that goes all the way across the brand. And I think, you know, for us it’s more like, look, if we like it, it’s gonna be part of our brand, but

Geraldine Hennessy: yeah.

Yeah. And did you get much of a reaction from like other businesses and the people around town to the shopfront.

Tom Edwards: Well, it’s, it’s funny with the shopfront at the time, we thought we were being very kind of original and different. Yeah. And then we have a regular who comes in whose dad was on the town council years ago.

Mm-hmm. And he…when he saw the shop the first time, he was like, oh yeah, sweet shop. And I was like, what? What are you talking about? So he said, oh, I’ll come, I’ll come back tomorrow and bring a picture. So he came back? Yeah. Bought a picture of a sweet shop that apparently used to be up by the church.

John Boyle:. It kind very isometric, multicolor kind of thing. Yeah. I was like,

Tom Edwards: oh God. So yeah, a few people have actually commented on that and Really, yeah. It was a nice throwback in that sense, but

John Boyle: Yeah. But you know, like it’s, I just find it, you know, sometimes people are like, “how did you come up with,” it’s like, you, we didn’t, like, Deirdre was great.

We got her to do. And like, you know, like we’re, we’re getting her to do something else for us at the moment. And she’s saying, oh, do you wanna have a chat about what to do? I’m like, no. Like, you know what you’re doing. Yeah. You just give it to us,

Geraldine Hennessy: You’re, you’re great at what you do, so you just do it.

John Boyle: Yeah. You know what I mean?

It’s kind of like, yeah. And, and that’s the thing. I think it’s. It doesn’t have to tie into a brand vision of this. It’s just a cool thing in and of itself and Yeah. You know, and that’s okay. You know.

Geraldine Hennessy: And it’s quite striking.

John Boyle: Well, yeah. Well, yeah. I think so. Yeah. I, I hope so anyway.

Tom Edwards: Well, it helped massively.

Yeah. ’cause we were so quiet when we first opened here.

Geraldine Hennessy: Isn’t that gas? Isn’t that how little things like…

Tom Edwards: Or like our friends, we’d see our friends walking past the window looking for us, you know?

Geraldine Hennessy: Now you can’t miss it.

Tom Edwards: And yeah, like, and it was great when it was first painted. There was so many people taking pictures of it, and people still do.

And it’s, that’s always nice to see.

John Boyle: A couple of comments about, you know, ’cause it’s a very, very old building. Mm-hmm. I think it was, it predates most of the other stuff in the street. Okay. I not sure, you know, a couple of people were saying, you know, it’s, I suppose not a traditional kind of a thing, but I, you know, it’s just paint.

Exactly. You know what I mean? You know, it could be, it could be stripped off if it had to be, you know. Yeah. But like, I, I think just before we kind of committed to doing it as well, coffee was very much kind of in this sort of, you know, you see it a lot in London and places where like, there’s no sign, you know, it’s not even painted. Like you should just know we’re like..

Geraldine Hennessy: Too cool for school.

John Boyle: Yeah. You know, and it’s like at the end of the day, you know, product in the cup is of the same quality in, in a very good trendy place or a place that’s more colorful and more vibrant. Yeah. So, you know, it doesn’t matter. Okay. You know, it’s okay to move, move beyond that and have something that’s just a bit more inviting, you know?

Geraldine Hennessy: And how and where do you source your beans?

Tom Edwards: So we get the bulk of our stuff from two different importers. Mm-hmm. One is Falcon over in the UK. And the other is Green Coffee Imports. They’re an Irish company. Mm-hmm. Um, so they’re based up in Dublin. So we currently get all our Brazilians, entral Americans from Green Coffee Imports, and then we get other bits then from Falcons.

Okay. Um, so yeah, we’re pretty good relationship with both of them. We’ve been with Falcon from day one and then Green Coffee Imports, uh, Keith got onto us maybe I’m gonna say three years ago. Yeah. And we’ve been using him since. He’s been great. Really, really good.

Geraldine Hennessy: And has Brexit affected the importing from the UK? 

Tom Edwards: Yeah.

Well, so yeah. When that kicked in, a lot of companies in the UK like Falcon, uh, just opened up warehouses in Antwerp in Belgium. So they could ship from there, but any stock they brought across just wasn’t as good as the stock they’d have in their English warehouse. So there was, there was a good two years I’d say of just not having an amazing option of coffee. Mm-hmm. It’s like the quality was still really good, but there just wasn’t as much of a selection. Okay. So that, that was a bit annoying. And then thankfully, that’s kind of when Keith came in then and started kind of offering other options.

John Boyle:So I think, I think the Brexit stuff was more of an issue as well for the kind of, um, maybe machinery or brewing equipment mm-hmm. And that kind of thing. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Like, you know, we’re getting emails from, you know, guys who might do like aero presses or that kind of thing, and saying it’s like, oh look, you have to fill out all these forms and it’s gonna be more expensive and you have to like, do the VAT, that and this, that and the other.

But you know, we, we still got stuff. And it’s like, well, no. Like, you know, because you can get them from anywhere, you know. Yeah. Yeah. Like, and there’s some, there’s some companies that will only do.. they have, it was always set up as UK and Ireland distribution and so we still have to go through it and it’s just a disaster.

Yeah. You know, and it’s usually just kind of led to us, just as said, finding someone else or just not carrying the stuff. Mm-hmm. Because, you know, like it’s just not enough of our business. It’s kind of not important enough to what we do to deal with it. Okay. Like, one big advantage with the green coffee is that, you know, there’s no vat on it because it’s a raw material and all that.

Mm-hmm. So that’s one thing. At least we didn’t have to deal with all that. Yeah. But as I said, it didn’t affect us hugely. But like for example, on our website now, we don’t, don’t really ship stuff to the UK just because, yeah. You know, it’s a shame, like, like it wouldn’t have been a big part of our business.

Mm-hmm. And if it was, you know, there’s plenty of roasters around who do, and they’re looking to grow into that market. But for us it’s just like, no. Yeah. They just made it a bit too awkward for us.

Geraldine Hennessy: Too much hassle if you’re for you…

John Boyle: wo or three packages a month. It’s just, yeah, not worth it.

Geraldine Hennessy: Okay. Okay. And has climate change affected your sourcing business model and procurement?

Tom Edwards: It has a little bit. Okay. I think if we were. Or maybe for much bigger roasteries it’s probably a bit more of a, of an issue. Mm-hmm. But for us and the size we’re at currentl.

Um, so I think Brazil was the worst one for sure.

Okay. Because they got hit with the frost couple of years back mm-hmm. Which cut down massively and what was available. So all that meant was that obviously prices just skyrocketed. Yeah. So the price we were paying for Brazilians when we first started compared to what we’re paying now is, is insane I think, because farmers can see that’s what they can be.

Mm-hmm. Because like the demand is there. Yeah. It’s like it will drop, but probably not by much. Mm-hmm. And then there was other countries that weren’t really getting affected, kind of peering over it, Brazil being like, oh wow, they’re getting very good prices. Let’s kind of up a little bit. Now, you could argue that’s probably a good thing.

Farmers have always been underpaid. Mm-hmm. For the coffee, even with specialty. Mm. So you could argue Yeah. Maybe it’s a good thing. Okay. Only for farmers. I, 22:00] no, I don’t wanna get too doom and gloom. Yeah. But it, it is gonna get worse. Yeah. And, and yeah. I think let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

Geraldine Hennessy: Let’s just keep on drinking coffee and not think about it. Okay.

And how would you describe the flavor profile of your coffee and individual coffee varieties?

Tom Edwards: I think we finally know what we want in terms of our selection. We seem to like washed Central Americans, natural Brazilians and maybe the kind of odd naturally Ethiopian mm-hmm. Or African kind of coffees. That’s generally where we’re at now. So I always describe it this way. I think it’s probably a handy one if, for someone who’s in, who kind of wants to get into coffee but isn’t sure which origin to go for or processing, I usually say Brazil. Mm-hmm. Typically speaking it’s natural or pulp natural, kind of chocolatey, nutty,nice body, nothing too out there. Flavor-wise, maybe a little bit of acidity depending on how it’s roasted. Central Americans, caramely, sweet bit of stone fruit. A little bit more interesting than in Brazil. Okay. And then your Africans, like your Ethiopians, you’ve got some very, very tea like coffees, um, floral, fruity with lavender and blueberry and all these crazy flavours.

Geraldine Hennessy: And is there a big difference between them, you know, in terms of say Ethiopian and Brazilian? Would there be a big difference?

Tom Edwards: I think it’s safe to say. Ethiopians, they’re just not for everyone. Yeah. And that, that’s why Brazil is always gonna be so popular. Yeah. Because it’s such a crowd pleaser coffee.

Mm-hmm. It works for most people. Mm-hmm. Sometimes I would say, if you don’t like Brazil, let’s say with specialty coffee, if you don’t like Brazil, you’re, you might not like an Ethiopian. Okay. Because if you’re looking for something that’s traditionally, you know, again, chocolate, nutty Ethiopians are just so, so different to that. But again, like you meet the odd person who just love it. Mm-hmm. They love that it, it doesn’t taste like a traditional coffee. Okay. There’s just a bit something more exciting going on.

John Boyle:. But I think for us as well, uh, there was kind of a, a period where it’s about kind of working out what, what we actually want to offer people.

Mm-hmm. You know? Because you can obviously, you know, you can, there can be a race to the bottom to 24:00] have, you know, really cheap coffee and you know, look, fair enough. That works for a lot of people. But, you know, you can also go a bit extreme in terms of kind of really fermented or really expensive kind of experimental processes or, you know, and you can have, you know, a small bag of coffee that could be 40 or 50 quid.

And, and we also said, you know what? That’s not really for the kind of people we are working with in shops and, and our customers in our own shop. Mm-hmm. They aren’t really into that either. Mm-hmm. You know what I mean? Yeah. So it’s kind of a sweet spot where, especially the Central Americans that we generally go for, that’s the best reflection of coffee I like to drink.

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I think again, I think that’s all you can really do, you know? Okay. I said there’s a big trend at the moment towards super fermented, you know, there’s all these different processes and, and you know, there’s a lot of additives as well. Mm-hmm. You know, they’re adding certain bacteria to speed up fermentation and, I dunno.

It’s going a little bit far away from the point, which is that you taste the origin and obviously some of the process, you know what I mean, that it’sou know, a fruit at the end of the day that you’re kind of trying to respect it as much as you can.

Tom Edwards: There’s definitely certain coffees, again, anaerobic or types of fermentation coffees where you’re, you’re just tasting the process.

Mm-hmm. You’re not actually tasting the coffee itself. Okay. Okay. Because, because it’s so overpowering.

John Boyle:. Mm-hmm. Yeah. And you know, when you’re, when you’re cupping, you know, if you’ve got five coffees on the table and one of them is like that, it stands out, it blows the others away because it’s super strong.

Tom Edwards: Everyone thinks, oh wow, that’s an incredible coffee. It’s like, no, it’s just that it’s so different. Yeah. Yeah. Again, like I was saying, you might not, if you’re cupping for, but you know, for sourcing reasons, maybe don’t have five or six Brazilians and then an Ethiopian. Yeah. because ….t might be a little disappointing tasting because you’re like, wow, that’s incredible.

Mm-hmm. It’s just that it’s so different, you know? Okay. Okay.

John Boyle: Yeah, and like, so in terms of the, you know, the amounts we get of each one and which type of ones we get. Yeah. You know, I think we’re in a good place now in terms of, well, our customers will generally kinda like this. Mm-hmm. And you know, so like people who, who might be buying from the website or you know, who might have subscriptions on the website.

Mm-hmm. You know, they have a general sense of kind of what they like, and so they seem to like what we do. Mm-hmm. And so you’re conscious of not going too far out. I mean, you know, you can get one in and, 26:00] you know, other you say, look, this one’s a bit out there. Like, we’ve had a couple of anaerobic coffees.


Tom Edwards: But I, I, I would say we’ve got, we’ve definitely gotten better at finding a coffee, let’s say, that we like and actually asking ourselves, okay, will our customers like this? Yeah, sometimes. Yeah. I think we’ve made the right call and they wouldn’t have liked it. Yeah. You know, I would even say that’s currently the way it is with some Rwandans, it just, gen generally doesn’t sell very well first, so we kind of stop sourcing that.

Well we, I think we do have ’em every now and then, but in in general, yeah. That that was an origin that didn’t move too much for us. That’s fair.

John Boyle: Yeah. Oh yeah. We had quite a bit of it.

Geraldine Hennessy: What is your business ethos?

John Boyle: So I think it’s kind of twofold. I think in general, you know, the business we have as owners of the shop and what we kinda do there. And then as a wholesale business kind of supplying other cafes . Now, I think, I think there’s a, there’s a kind of a big overlap, but I think a lot of times people that do what we do can get caught up in the product. Mm-hmm. And that it’s all about what’s in the cup and the quality of it, but actually, really what, what’s important is when people come into the shop, what experience they have and, you know, do you kind of make them feel good?

Mm-hmm. You know, is it a memorable experience? And that’s, you know, that’s for a hundred reasons. It’s not just the coffee, it’s part of it. And I think on the wholesale side, it’s, it’s the same in that, you know, we kind, we, we got on great with all the people we, we work with on that side. I think some roasters just want to work with, you know, the best places with all the best equipment.

I think we’re more interested in kind of working with good people and people who kind of, as I said, you go in and just kind of warmth. Mm-hmm. And that whatever type of place it is, because, you know, we work in lots of different places, that it’s just a memorable experience. Okay. You know, like, at the end of the day, I think it’s easy to forget sometimes, you know, we’re just a supplier. Mm-hmm. You know, like the milkman or the guy delivers the bread, you know what I mean? It’s kind of no different. And like within our sphere, there’s a lot of people who are like, oh, you know, we do this, we do that. And it’s like, at the end of the day, we deliver a product. You know what I mean?

We, we make it and we deliver it. But our job really on that side of it, is to enable them to make a memorable experience for their customers. Yeah. And so I think a lot of that comes down to, you know, training and, and stuff like that. If they want to, learn a bit more about the coffee and just make them a bit more comfortable and confident with it.

Okay. But that’s in service of a kind of a greater goal, which is that they have a, a good, you know, a good time there.

Geraldine Hennessy: So it’s, it’s really about kind of a customer focus approach.

John Boyle: See, I, I think so. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, and certainly here, you know, like stuff like the aesthetic and the music, everyone’s friendly.

Like we’ve, we’ve said before, lot of times we’d much rather have people working, say, in our shop, who are friendly. Mm-hmm. And we can teach them about coffee. Mm-hmm. Rather than, you know, you do see like some, you know, some shops have this real, you know, we only get the best people. It’s like, yeah. Sometimes they’re not very nice.

Yeah. In terms of, you know what I mean? Like it’s, you know, like, but it’s much easier to train someone to make coffee than it’s to train somebody to change their personality, you know? Exactly. But like, but especially here, you know, if we were, um, you know, in Dublin or, or London or these places, there are certain shops where it’s almost, they celebrate the fact that they’re rude to everyone.

And in Berlin and all these places, You know, we’re in Clonakilty, like, you know, it’s, it’s, most of our business is consistently local people. Mm. You 29:00] know, and obviously it’s tourist here, but it’s mostly locals and, and regulars. And so, you know, if we start getting all high and mighty, you know, they’ll be well, they’ll tell us.

Geraldine Hennessy:

Yeah. They won’t be long putting you down.

John Boyle:  And they, and they won’t be back, you know, and, uh, you know, so I think it, it just, it’s just much more natural that way. Okay. You know, that, you know, and, and a healthy kind of ability to remember that, you know, we’re not, we’re not changing the world. We’re just, you know what I mean?

That Yeah. You know? Yeah. Yeah. But like, I think coming, you know, coming in for a coffee, like, as I said, it’s not changing the world, but it, you have a choice. It can be, you know, the kind of a, a little high point at someone’s day, or it can just be a disappointing experience. Mm. And and I think that a lot of things add up to that, but that’s, that’s kinda what matters to us, is that obviously that the product is, is great and really well made, but that’s, that’s our responsibility. Mm-hmm. You know what I mean? Like going on about it… I don’t understand.

Tom Edwards: Yeah. I mean if you look at most of our customers wholesale wise, I mean, they use the coffee because they like it and it’s a good product. But in most cases, our service actually, you know, helping them out because their grinder stopped 30:00] working. Yeah. Or, you know, the machine needs to be reprogramed or they’ve got five new staff members who none of them know how to make coffee and they need a training asap. You know, that’s where I think we come in. So yeah, I think coming back to being so focused on just the product, it’s not gonna get you very far.

And I, yeah, we went to a talk in the 3FE  when we first started, and there was a guy there, James Hoffman, who owns Square Mile over in the UK. But he said one thing that just stuck with me since then, it was like, quality doesn’t mean success. So if you’re just focused on the product and having the quality so good,  there’s so many more things that we do as a coffee roastery. Like I said, you know, changing grinders or you know, helping out with gear or training. There’s just so much more, not just coffee, you know,

Geraldine Hennessy: I suppose like it’s almost expected that the quality would be good. Yeah. And that your aim, your focus is on making sure that the customer aspect of your business is, is good.

Tom Edwards: Yeah, and like we said it before, you know, the standard has gotten so good. Everyone’s roasting pretty good coffee now, you know. Um, no, that was much different 12, 15 years ago. Yeah. Yeah. You know, when you pretty much had 3FE and 31:00] badger and dodo and they were kind of the only guys, but now there’s so many more. So yeah, the standard has gotten so much better.

So you have to be able to offer something a bit more, and …

John Boyle: But, but also  as well, I think this is kind of the, the personal thing of some people maybe want to start somewhere and they’re saying, oh, you know, maybe what equipment should we get? It’s very easy to say, oh, you should spend €20,000 on all these things, you know, you have to understand that that’s not feasible. Mm. And also, day one, the sales that they’ll have won’t at all reflect that they’ve spent that much money. Yeah. So sometimes they’re, you know, starting on, you know, terrible equipment and, you know, you’re training them up on that and, and with, you know, the plan being that a certain point they get to a certain level and then maybe they get more, you know what I mean?

Yeah. And that kind of way. And we’ve, we’ve seen that a lot with people who’ve kind of, we feel like kind of grown with us. Okay.

Tom Edwards: That’s always been a great feeling. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

John Boyle: That’s the nice one. Its not about looking for people who are, um, you know, the absolute finished product and have all this amazing stuff. And no, we’re kind of more looking for people, as I said, where there’s a bit of a, a bit of a heart or a bit of a, kind off, kind of a vision.

And, and it’s funny because it’s, it’s, a lot of times 32:00] it’s the people who surprise you, who actually end up doing an amazing job and you know, it’s, it’s not the trendy guys with the, you know,….

Geraldine Hennessy: Ibet you enjoy it more as a result.

John Boyle: See? I think so. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Tom Edwards: And it, it purely depends on where you’re serving or supplying too. Sorry. Like if, you know, if it’s just a cafe, obviously you’d like them to be very much focused on the coffee, but we supply restaurants and coffee isn’t the main thing. Yeah. And that’s the thing we’ve kind of had to, yeah,tand back and go, okay, stop kind of getting obsessed about this. You know, coffee is just kind of an afterthought for them.

It’s all about the food because that’s their passion. Mm-hmm. But you know, just, just coming back to working with people that, you know, who have to start off somewhere but might not have the crazy budget. I mean, we understand that because that’s exactly the same position we were in. We opened the shop here, you know, we had no money and we had to buy second hand gear and it would’ve been great to start with brand new machinery.


John Boyle: But Yeah. But at the end of the, like, I actually look at it as a, as a good thing in the sense that like, when you’re working with slightly more challenging equipment, you’ve no choice but to work 33:00] on your technique and kind of understand it. Mm-hmm. And then when you bring that up to higher spec equipment, you still have the technique.

So it, it ends up in a great result. But as I said, there’s a lot of customers we have who do amazing work on stuff that, you know, maybe other roasters would say, they just throw the bin. Mm. And it’s just now I think it’s, it’s, mm-hmm. It’s very satisfying to work with people like that, you know? Okay. Yeah.


Geraldine Hennessy: And has there been a change in the flavor profile of coffee over the years? And does that align with the way things have gone internationally?

Tom Edwards: Has there been change?

John Boyle: I would say the quality of what comes out, like you can get more processes, more varieties available than  there used to be.

Tom Edwards: Yeah. Well, yeah, just coming back to the anaerobic thing that obviously just skyrocketed and everyone seems to be drinking that, but I, I feel like that’s kind of fallen into the wayside a little bit. It doesn’t seem to be as prominent. Maybe I’m wrong.

John Boyle: But it, it depends on the parts of the industry.

Tom Edwards: I’m coming from looking at, you know, what’s available on offer lists from importers. There seems to be less and less 34:00] anaerobic stuff.

John Boyle: Yeah. I think it, it might almost be a little bit of a fragmentation in it, a little bit that. Some farms, you know, smaller farms are focusing just on those really expensive lots and some roasters love that kind of thing.

And, and maybe the rest of us are coming back towards a more like a very clean washed coffee. Mm-hmm. Where it’s a very pure…

Tom Edwards: Which I think people will always come back to. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And again, with the anaerobics, it seems like it’s just gonna do a circle. Something else….

Geraldine Hennessy: It’s like a trend…

Tom Edwards: Something else will probably come in, everyone will get obsessed about it and then just come back to a nice clean suite.

Yeah. Yeah.

 Geraldine Hennessy: Back to the plain ordinary coffee.

John Boyle: L ike, what’s really interesting is just how strong and, and distinctive they’re, but also how kind of undrinkable they are, I don’t think I’ve ever finished a cup of them. Yeah, and I mean like this, like, I mean

Tom Edwards: I’ve definitely had one or two that you go, that’s very cool. That’s so different. But then you have to ask yourself. Do I want to drink this at nine o’clock in the morning? Yeah. Or you know, or, yeah, drink it at eight o’clock when I’m trying to run out the door and get kids to school. 35:00] It’s not what you wanna drink. Okay.

John Boyle: And I mean, as you know, as you know, roasters and wholesale roasters.

You know, then you have to consider, okay, do their customers in Middleton or in the city or wherever do they want that? Mm-hmm. They definitely don’t, you know what I mean? So do you have to be careful? But that’s it. It’s, it’s interesting, like once, literally, once we tried a, um, a species of coffee called udinese. Which is you see a lot in competitions. Mm-hmm. Now incredibly low yield. Incredibly expensive. Mm-hmm. Like incredibly expensive. Mm. And someone brought some into us, like we didn’t have it ourselves. Most incredible thing I’ve ever tasted. Wow. Okay. Like, astounding. Blew my mind. Yeah. You know what I mean? So like, it’s not that, it’s not that we’re, you know, anti-innovation or anti expensive coffees, I suppose it’s more, if everything could be made to taste like that, it would change the entire industry.

Yeah. So you, it’s kind of, yeah. It’s just….

Geraldine Hennessy:There are things out there.

John Boyle: Yeah. Okay. And like, we still keep tasting stuff, but I mean, as I said, I like, we bought one, we tried one from another roaster, uh, last during Christmas time, maybe a year and a half ago. It’s basically three cups of coffee in it. So measured 18 gram three things, and it was 52 euros, I think, or was something like that.

Yeah. So just for three cups. Uh, didn’t finish. I gave away the last one. Ah, yeah. We made two and didn’t finish them. Mm-hmm. And again, now it like, smelled amazing. Incredibly strong, incredibly distinctive, and lots going on, but yeah. Didn’t wanna finish it. Okay. You know, so, yeah. It’s just, it’s funny, you know.

Geraldine Hennessy: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And there are many coffee roasting companies out there. How would you describe the market? Is it collaborative/competive?

Tom Edwards: I would say we’re actually quite lucky where we are. Okay. If we were in Dublin now mm-hmm. That is a, a much different story.

John Boyle: Yeah. You couldn’t really say it’s collaborative.

Mm-hmm. But I think it’s less combative than it is in Dublin or culture places like that. Like, you know, in real terms, there’s not that many coffee roasters around Cork, let’s say. Mm-hmm. And we don’t really go after each other’s customers. Mm-hmm. Like that kind of thing doesn’t really happen. In Dublin that’s nonstop. Okay. So like there’s really limited scope for how we could collaborate. Mm-hmm. 37:00] You know, if you’re ordering certain stuff, you could kind of, you know, put it together. I mean, we’ve done a small bit of that with. Like we, I mean, we’ve always kind of gone out of our way to try to make contact with other roasters.

Mm-hmm. Um, all over Ireland, like, you know, we visited loads of other roasteries and we’ve always reached out to people and it never seems to come back. No, not to us, but in general, it just doesn’t seem to be a thing that happens. Okay. That’s okay. Everyone’s gonna do their own thing. Yeah. We kinda, if we’re going somewhere, we email ahead and just sort of appear and like, and the funny thing is like, you know, it’s always a nice time When we pop up, but they’re, it’s always nice. Yeah. Yeah. But they’re, they’re always, yeah. It often starts off slightl defensively. Yeah. Kinda protectively. There’s a bit of that, like, you know.

Tom Edwards: Yeah. Yeah. I feel like we’ve kind of made a point of going to meet roasteries. Yeah. Because again, when we started it was just so closed off. Yeah.

John Boyle: No one, like, no one would answer a question about roasting.

Tom Edwards: Yeah. No one wanted to discuss anything roasting with, and I found that so frustrating as someone who wanted to learn.

And, and like as, as we kind of said before this, uh, briefly, you, you know, it’s nice to chat with other businesses and see where they’re at, how they, you know, if obviously if they’re happy to talk about it, we don’t pry that information out of them. Yeah. But yes, it’s nice to see how people run their business as well.

John Boyle: And I suppose it’s funny, I mean, we never thought it at the time, but really, you know, music is very collaborative. Mm-hmm. It kinda has to be, and like, you know, if someone else has a gig. If you kind of rock up with your instrument in a case, you probably end up on stage. Yeah. And, and it’s, it’s only when you kind of come to your stage like, oh, that doesn’t happen everywhere at all.


Tom Edwards: Yeah. I, I’d say we have been pretty collaborative. Yeah. We’ve, you know, Fergus from Roaster Brown, we’ve bought some coffee from him. Mm-hmm. We’ve a pretty good relationship, I’d say with Three Fools here in court. Mm-hmm. I think we’ve kind of agreed that if there’s an issue with roasters, you know, we could use theirs or they could use ours if they were stuck.

You know, that kind of thing. That’s where, oh, yeah. Well, yeah, because again, as a roastery, it’s good to have contacts like that. If you’re doing a certain amount of batches per week and your roaster packs up, you know, that’s when things start getting scary, because if you haven’t roasted ahead or you know, like our roaster for example. Sorry, our first roaster was from the States. So like there was two or three occasions where stuff had gone wrong. Yeah. And there was a time difference just to get onto them. The shipping, obviously that took a good few days. Yeah. So like, yeah, it’s definitely good having contacts like that.

Geraldine Hennessy: And have trends like cold brews affected your approach to roasting?

Tom Edwards: I would say, no, no, no.

Geraldine Hennessy: You roast the way you roast.

Tom Edwards: That’s it. Yeah. We roast the way we want to and how, how, how we like our coffee.

John Boyle: Yeah. It would be more if we were, no, we don’t do a cold brew, but if we did, we’d kind of choose which coffee to use mm-hmm. Rather than to roast a coffee specifically for it.

Okay. Yeah. So like for, for, especially for a cold coffee, it can be nice to have something a little bit more acidic. Mm-hmm. Cut through a bit more, but similarly, like for just regular iced coffees and stuff like that. At the moment we’re, we’re collaborating with Fox Glove, you know, they do cocktail mixers and stuff like that. They’re down in Baltimore. And so we’re doing a salted caramel kind of syrup with them. We’re trying that for some of the iced coffees and things like that rather than, so yeah. Rather than kind of changing the whole production process and, and which cofees we get, it would be more kind of tweaking it, things like that.

Okay. Or the, the 40:00] aerocano is another one. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Which is kind of an aerated iced Americano.. So it’s kinda like, looks like a Guinness. Uh, but you know, again, the coffee element is the same, but it’s kind of more of a technique thing on the other side, you know .

40:11] Geraldine Hennessy: So you leave the roasting process the same?

John Boyle: Yeah, yeah. Like Dom, who, who roasts for us in the, um, in the roastery. He’s quite particular about what he wants from each coffee. You know, he tests everything, cups, everything. We do a lot of analysis on the green coffee, on the roaster coffee. He check the color and check the moisture and everything. And so when he gets it where he wants it, it’s more about repeating that consistently.

Mm-hmm. You know, some roasters do change the profiles for filter or for espresso. I’ve never seen huge value in that. Okay. Personally. Mm-hmm. Like so we’re, we do what’s called omni roasting. You know, because it’s one way for, for, for everything. Some people kind of consider that a, a bad word, but it’s like, you know, the, our thoughts would be, well actually there’s a, an ideal way that this coffee should be roasted.

Mm-hmm. And that’s the way we roast it. Mm-hmm. And that everything else is a brewing issue rather than a roasting issue. But that’s it. People have different opinions. It’s okay.

Geraldine Hennessy: And do you find your sales are affected by 41:00] seasonal factors? For example, has the recent good weather impacted you and do customers favor lighter profiles of the summer?

Tom Edwards: I would say no, but iced coffees for sure.

John Boyle: Yeah. Like in the, in the shop, let’s say. Yeah. We sell way more iced. Yeah. And we sell way fewer hot chocolates. Okay. And then that just flips out. Yeah. It’s just seasonal

Geraldine Hennessy: Those small things as such.

John Boyle: And then like in terms of our, our wholesale, you know, it does, you know, people’s numbers change.

Seasonally bought, you know, that’s more just based on where they are. Yeah. Okay. More, more so than anything else. Kind of, yeah. Like we have a lot of people, you know, in West Cork who are more touristy places. Mm. Then usually get bigger. A lot of them don’t even open in the winter. Okay. You know, and then the city places might get a little bit quieter.

Yeah. But yeah. But in terms of, let’s say, what actually happens with the coffee? No. Just kind of, it’s more, yeah. Regular, seasonal kinda stuff.

Geraldine Hennessy: Okay ,And if you would have to pick your favorite coffee, what would it be and why?

Tom Edwards: My favorite one that we currently have, or just a coffee

John Boyle: Well, we can’t include the udinese. That’s not really fair. Think it’s like 500 euro of kilo or something. Like, you know what I mean? Like it’s, it’s, yeah. You couldn’t get it 42:00] even. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s not fair.

Tom Edwards: Your favorite, regular. Yeah. I’m gonna go with the one that you could like again, drink every day. Mm-hmm.

John Boyle: I personally, I like to drink a flat white. Okay. Right. That’s my, you know, my, my favorite type to drink. It was the first kind one I had when I was going specialty coffee

 Tom Edwards: I was going to say a bean….

John Boyle: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. But I’m saying, I’m saying a flat white, made with a natural ….

Tom Edwards: El savador

John Boyle: Don’t you….let me answer the question, El Salvador. Yes.

Geraldine Hennessy: Oh, you knew each other so well…

John Boyle: currently on our website. No. Um, but yeah, probably something like that. Or else maybe kind of a Red Honey Costa Rican, similar kind of a thing. Mm-hmm. But yeah, so something that’s maybe a little bit, yeah, so like a natural process. You get a slightly kind of boozy thing.

Mm-hmm. Small bit of acidity, uh, in a flat white. Yeah. Lovely. Six ounce flat, white. Very important. Not an 8 ounce. Okay. Yeah, that’s my answer.

Tom Edwards: I kind of between six ounze americanos and flat whites, but I would say, a natural, a boozy, natural Ethiopian. Some, sometimes they work very well with milk.

Sometimes they don’t.

Geraldine Hennessy: What does boozy mean? Sorry.

John Boyle: It’s just this kind 43:00] of like a, you know, black forest gateaux kind of a… a fruity type of thing. Kind of a, yeah. That sort of thing. But you see, it’s funny because if you’d asked that question, you know, a few years ago as a roaster, Tom would’ve felt obliged to say a filter coffee.

Uh, like genuinely, like, you know, and you know, if you’re asking roasters I bet they all say filtered coffee but actually it’s, you know, we’re kinda like, it’s okay if the answer milky. Yeah. You know, and it’s way, it’s funny to get to the point where you’re like, actually that’s okay. I, you feel comfortable  we’ve said that.

Yeah. You know what I mean? And that, you know, especially because, you know, that’s what we sell the most of is white coffee. So why would I, why would I not drink white coffees, you know? Yeah, yeah.

Geraldine Hennessy: The US comedian Dennis Leary derided the shift away from coffee flavoured coffee in his sets is adding a syrup or flavor into your coffee akin to adding a mixer to a shelf whiskey.

Tom Edwards: I mean, look, we do have syrups as of last week, one syrup, sorry. We used to be very, very much no. Okay. With syrups. And our thinking was, well, we’re spending like a lot more on this green coffee 44:00] than other places would. Why would you ruin it? Mask it. Yeah. Completely mask it. And look, I think that’s the beauty of what we do, is we are coming at it from both sides.

Mm-hmm. As a roastery and as a cafe. Mm-hmm. I think some roasteries only think of, again, the coffee. Yeah. And not actually the day-to-day interactions with customers. Our customers want a syrup, and I’m gonna say, I have to agree with them. I, I normally wouldn’t have had an iced coffee and I, we had two last week.

John Boyle: I had my first, uh, iced syrup last week

Tom Edwards: with very good coffee, and it was just a bit underwhelming. Mm-hmm. It was a little bit bitter. The coldness brings out this kind of bitterness to it. And

John Boyle: actually, oh, sorry. That, that, that was without the syrup. Sorry. Sorry.

Tom Edwards: We tried them. Syrup. Syrup. And so then we tried one with, and honestly, it, yeah, it was a lot better.

I’m gonna say it.

John Boyle: But also, you know, we make, um, you know, we serve mochas, which is, you know, we use the O’Connell’s chocolate with the coffee, and it’s like, why is there a difference? Yeah. You know, I mean, some people would say adding milk to coffee is a sin. We do that too. Yeah. So, you know, at the end of the day, like we said, ethos is really more about kinda giving people what they want. And look, you know, when we first opened, like it was the two of us working in the shop all the time, I had plenty of arguments with people about putting sugar in their coffe. You know, like the other thing is you can make your point. Mm-hmm. And you can suggest, you know, maybe it would be nicer or whatever if you didn’t.

Like, at the end of the day, it’s their choice.

Tom Edwards: People are gonna like what they like and it’s just such a weird thing that some places do. And it’s, they’re basically saying your taste buds are wrong.

John Boyle: But also it’s weird ….the top shelf whiskey thing is interesting because, you know, Jameson don’t care. Yeah. You know what I mean? If they sell you a Middleton whatever, 50 year old.

Yeah. Do what you want with it. Like, you know, imagine a label on the back. Oh, don’t mix it. Yeah. You know?

Geraldine Hennessy: Well, as you said, you’re coming back to what you said earlier. You are very much focused on the customer. If the customer wants it, well,

John Boyle: well, that’s it. Yeah. We do, we do. Um, we do try. It’s funny

Tom Edwards: Well we don’t do dark Roasts.

John Boyle: Yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. That’s, but you see, we wouldn’t drink that. So it’s fair enough, you know.

My dad…I think it was for his 40th. It was 50th. He got, someone, got him a, a Middleton, like, you know, some very old whatever, one. And he didn’t open it for ages. And then, um, I remember my sister saying to him that, uh, you know, if you don’t open it, we’re just going to drink it at your funeral with Coke.

So like, you know, you get on with it. Like, and, uh, I, and I think there’s a truth to that, like, you know, it’s like you can’t control everything, especially as wholesalers. Yeah. If we just, at our shop, you can control everything. And like, this is a shop in Dublin and I’m, I’ve never been there. I’m sure the coffee there is amazing.

Mm-hmm. They have this machine to like check the temperature and the, the percentage of kind of extraction of each coffee and all this. And genuinely I’m sure the coffee there is amazing. You know, they wouldn’t give you a syrup and you know, all this kind of stuff. Like we work with lots of people who are um, maybe in like horse boxes or restaurants, pubs and things like that.

And so like the reality of their environment is so different. Mm-hmm. And that, you know, you’re making this big point of, oh, don’t do this with that. No. Their customers want to do it. Okay.

Tom Edwards: Yeah. Like there is places over in Germany and this is where they just don’t have any sugar at all. Yeah. And you just can’t get it.

And like, that’s just such a weird thing. Imagine. You know, having no sleep ’cause kids are crying. You wake up really bad mood. Mm-hmm. You just want to get a coffee. Yeah. You don’t wanna talk to anyone. Yeah. You wanna get your coffee and you want your two sugars. And imagine being told no by someone being the counter. And what actually here we don’t do that. It’s like, just shut up.

John Boyle: Yeah, yeah. Like that happened to us in Berlin.

Tom Edwards: I’m giving you my €3.50 or €3.80, just, just give me the sugar

John Boyle: And you are paying more for the honor not being allowed like we were in The Barn in Berlin, um, they are a speciality roastery-very good coffee of course. So we ordered a flat white and an Americano, asked, made the coffees.

She asked for a milk for the Americano. Mm, no, sorry. No. And then eventually after a bit of two and fro out, you know, she got annoyed. So she, she was arguing with them. They gave her, uh, milk, but they charged her 50 cent for it. And they wouldn’t give her cold milk. They were literally like, absolutely not.

We heated up. And you have to pay extra, but Yeah. But this is the same place. You know, that there was a staff member, um, who, she was German, but she’d actually lived in Ireland for a couple of years. Okay. And so we were outside on a different day and she came outside to cry. Uh, no, this, I tell you.

Ridiculous. Yeah. No. She came outside to cry and she was, and we were like, oh, are you okay? And she’d lived in Cork. It was very random. And she was like, everyone’s just so mean. And she’s saying every interaction is just. They’re waiting to have to give out to people and she says she missed Ireland so much.

Oh gosh. You know, and like, you know, the product, you know, top notch product. Yeah. Yeah. It was great coffee, but it’s not the point, you know. You know, there is times when you can do that. If you are, you know, if you’re a michelin star chef mm-hmm. And you’re controlling everything, it’s massive money, I think, and someone asks for ketchup.

I think it’s fair enough. Yeah. You know what I mean? It’s like you’re able to say, look, no, not here. Yeah. Yeah. But what we do isn’t that. Yeah. And as I said, I think a lot of it comes down to what’s our responsibility and what’s the customer’s kind of responsibility. Yeah. Yeah. You know, ours is to deal with our stuff ourselves.

Mm-hmm. And kind of make it as good as we can, and maybe that includes something that they want. Yeah.

Tom Edwards: Yeah. Fair enough. Yeah.

Geraldine Hennessy: Good point. Well, John and Tom, thank you so much for chatting to us today on the Cork Creative Podcast. If you’d like to learn more about Stone Valley Coffee Roasters, you can find links to their website and social media on