It’s been an exciting time for U-Roast as we begin to sell our bespoke micro coffee roasting machines to more corners of the UK. So today we catch up and drink coffee with Ilirjan, Co-Founder of U-Roast, who tells us a bit more about what to expect with U-Roast and its impact on the coffee industry.
Tell us a bit more about U-Roast.
“We conducted a bit of research before we launched U-Roast and it was clear that coffee shops love the idea of in-house roasting, but they did not want the hassle. They want a machine that’s user friendly, with a green coffee supplier, training and to make sense of it all financially and environmentally. So, we thought since no one is offering all of that we should be the first”.
“U-Roast is an innovative concept new to the coffee industry. We have put together the experience of roasting, packaging, social business, travelling to coffee farms and marketing to give the best to our customers. So, when we present the idea to our potential customers, we cover 360 degrees of what they need for roasting on their own premises and not just simply a coffee roasting machine.”
Where are you generating business and in which coffee shop segment?
“Our customers are so diverse, we are amazed! We thought at the beginning that U-Roast was the perfect tool for the trendy ‘hipster’ coffee shop due to the fact that most of them sell single origin coffee and they claim it is freshly roasted. However, the reality is, that most of them have a passion for coffee literature, but when it comes to practice and quality versus marketing, they would prefer to have coffee roasted as far as Scandinavia and use the marketing to sell it more expensively to the end consumer. I don’t understand why someone would choose to have a coffee roasted in Stockholm, which needs a month to come from their coffee shop, when they can roast the exact same green coffee by themselves on their own premises and in front of their customers. It is like comparing ready-made food heated in the microwave to freshly cooked food. For this reason alone, I am saying that some of the hipster coffee shops use fair trade or single origin coffee “freshly roasted” just to promote their “caring” social side of the business and they don’t actually value the product they serve to their customers. From the other side, the clients that we have found interested in U-Roast are the ones that really want to help increase the quality they offer their customers, and to be socially responsible with regards to their carbon footprint, plastic bag wastage and helping coffee farmers by having direct contact with them”
Why do you believe there is room for U-Roast in the current coffee market?
“I will start by quoting Asher Yaron, a very respected figure in the coffee world. He said that 95% of the coffee consumed in the world is dead and stale. Coffee is like any other food. It is best to be freshly consumed after roasting so you can get the benefit of the antioxidants fresh coffee brings. Most of these nutrients will disappear within a week of roasting”.
“We can see that the coffee industry is changing rapidly in the UK and it is growing with double figures every year because people are looking to buy high quality coffee and to spend more time in a coffee shop than at a pub or traditional restaurant. To offer something different from the competition, every coffee shop owner is looking for the next best thing”.
“Twenty years ago, coffee shops started using espresso based coffee instead of instant or filter coffee. Ten years later, they choose to have socially sourced coffee like Fairtrade roasted locally. Now they are looking to see what is next. We believe that in 3-5 years, most coffee shops will roast their own coffee thanks to the technology in the roasting process which will be very user friendly. So, we thought to be pioneers and start that new coffee revolution. The customers that jump on board are visionary and leaders in the sector. They don’t want to be followers to see the competitors move before they do, so they are constantly looking to develop their products and be ahead of everyone else in the area.”
How can U-Roast add value to your business?
“We believe U-Roast adds value for the following reasons:
Firstly, we sell a product of quality. You can have freshly roasted coffee and direct contact with the farm or the cooperative that produces the coffee. Most coffee shop owners that buy roasted coffee do not even know the origin of their coffee. They just know the percentage of Arabica and Robusta. Now they trend is all out the origin of the products and giving your customer as much information as you can.
Secondly, we believe our product generates social impact. This is because you can be flexible with the coffee you roast and you can choose a particular farm that we have direct contact with. You buy that product knowing that every coffee you sell has the power to change the life of someone you actually speak to.
Thirdly, at U-Roast we have a strong focus on being environmentally responsible throughout our business practice. We package the green coffee in small 2kg jute bags which are environmentally sourced. We ask you to send them back when you use the coffee so we can refill the same ones to lower the plastic package waste.
Additionally, the chaff the comes out from the roasting process can also be used as compost for plants in your own facility, or you can give it to your customers for free which I am sure will highly appreciate the gesture. You can also reduce Co2 emissions because you roast and use the coffee in the same place. You don’t need to deliver it to a warehouse and spend time transporting it from one side of the country to the other, which most commercial roasters do.
Finally, you can be a point of reference for your community. You can roast for smaller businesses in the area that are not direct competitors, or simply sell freshly roasted and grinded coffee for your customers to take home.”
If you’d like to know more about coffee roasting and how to become a leader in the every changing coffee market, please don’t hestitate to contact Ilirjan by filling out the enquiry form on our page.