In an ordinary terraced house in Hackney, there is a rather special garden shed. This is the Roasting Shed - a small batch coffee roastery founded by Ricardo Restrepo - whose family farmed coffee in the lush hills of Quindio in Colombia. Together with Neil Coyle, qualified barista and coffee roaster, they source beans, import them, and carefully roast them to order, all from a humble garden shed.
Esther Booth leads me through their house, where bags of raw green coffee beans are stacked up in the lounge, to where it all happens."It all got too big to fit inside the original shed", she says, "so we've now got a slightly bigger one". It's still a tight fit, but cleverly designed. Ricardo talks me through the process, firing up the roaster and monitoring the exact temperature via a digital linkup. Everything is done with precision, to extract the right flavour and caramelisation without burning the beans. He pulls out little scoops to check the colour: the beans gradually darkening from khaki to rich, conker-brown, the heat constantly checked and adjusted.
The Roasting Shed sell bags of beans to local cafes and businesses; with her design background, Esther has a range of contacts in a trade where companies are willing to invest in good coffee for their staff. It's also allowed her to oversee the branding and packaging, stamping every retail pack of coffee by hand. "Our aim is simple: to improve coffee at work", she says. "Great coffee isn't that expensive, it doesn't have to be a luxury you leave the office for, it isn't complicated. The face of coffee at work is changing, and we hope to be leading that change."
It's an expanding business, and the very definition of a cottage industry. One started in a living room, then a shed: now shortlisted for a Young British Foodie award.