Head of Creative Nick Barlow takes time out from the daily grind to share his cafés’ recipe for success.
It’s our ten-year anniversary
Small Batch was strictly wholesale to start with. Source the beans, roast them up and sell them on. After a couple of good years we opened our espresso bar on Goldstone Road. At the time it felt like a really big step. Now we’ve got seven outlets in Brighton and Hove, plus more than 200 wholesale clients nationwide.
We still only work with small batches
Our pride and joy is this 12 kilo roaster [pictured below]. Every single bean of our coffee goes through that one dinky machine. To put that in perspective, the high street chains roast hundreds of kilos in one go – the scale of Wonka’s chocolate factory, but without the love or fun.
Good roasting is both a science and an art
Our roasters personally supervise every single batch, monitoring the taste, smell and even the sound of the roast. Once they hear that ‘first crack’, they manually adjust the temperature. It takes real talent to get that right. You can’t be as attentive on an industrial scale.
We hire based on personality and enthusiasm
Brighton is chock full of brilliant people, and our dedicated training lab turns them into the best baristas around. A few former Small Batch guys have gone on to run shops in Melbourne, Berlin, Sydney and Copenhagen. Coffee is a serious career now.
I think Brighton is proud of us
We’re an ethical company, selling a good product with clear provenance. The better we do, the more coffee we sell, the more we can help our producers in the developing world. People in this city appreciate that. Plus we do our best to make the shops as stylish and inviting as possible.
There’s plans a’brewing
Later this month we open our first cafe in Worthing. Soon after that we’re moving into a bigger, better kitchen, so we can make all of our food in-house. Right now we’re experimenting with the Christmas hamper recipes. ‘Coffee chutney’, and especially ‘coffee jelly’, are going to blow everybody’s minds.
Confession: We all used to drink shit coffee
I went to university with [head roaster] Alan Tomlins. Back in the day we drank tea, and very occasionally instant coffee. Gold Blend, stuff like that. Now Alan spends half his time roaming Africa and Central America sourcing the world’s best coffee beans for Small Batch. We’ve come a long way.
Once you discover proper coffee there's no going back. It's like craft beer. As soon as you set off down that path, a pint of Fosters simply won't cut it.