16th February 2022
Francis tells Josephine Taylor from the Romsey office of the law firm Thrings how he brewed up a premium coffee business
In a shed in his back garden, under the light of the moon, Francis Bradshaw began his search for the perfect roasted coffee bean.
In a way, it was inevitable. Although he studied agriculture, working in an agronomist business and then in the leisure industry, coffee was in his blood. His great grandfather was a 19th century coffee broker, his grandfather followed suit and his father was a consultant at Nestle, helping to develop Gold Blend.
Those nocturnal experiments, which Francis fitted in during the hours after his day job, gave Moon Roast its name. Almost a decade on, it is renowned for “exceptional care and attention to detail”, supplying cafes, delicatessens and online shoppers.
“Some people are happy with a generic taste but there’s a growing wave of people realising that there’s more to coffee,” he tells us at his roastery on a farm near Alresford, which became the home of the expanding business in 2017.
“Some people call roasting the dark art! It’s a bit like wine in that variety, soil type, altitude and the processes involved all have a part to play in the flavour.”
The team start by identifying the moisture content and density of imported beans before loading them into a rotating drum over a gas burner. The temperature, drum speed and air flow can be varied to create the perfect result. The nine-strong team at Moon Roast are involved in daily “cupping” – the industry term for tasting.
“We’re looking for natural sweetness and to bring out all the natural attributes of the bean, for example nutty, fruity, floral or citrus,” Francis explains. “We tend not to roast too dark, otherwise you lose all the interesting flavours – we’re looking for a balanced taste with a long and satisfying finish.”
Every café supplied is given complimentary barista training and offered equipment such as grinders and espresso makers to ensure the customer gets the perfect cup. Roastery tours are on offer and the on-site Yard Café is hugely popular.
Francis has plans to grow the business, but without losing the artisan touch. He intends to widen his search for new flavours to satisfy a growing taste for variety – and sustainability is high on the agenda.
“We are launching new recyclable packaging in our 10th anniversary year,” he says. “We are keen to support smallholder farmers by paying a premium for speciality grade coffee, and we have started supporting a new Brazilian charity, Crescer No Campo, which provides safe spaces for the children of farm employees.
“It’s all come a long way from those nights in my back garden!”
If you would like to know more, please contact Josephine Taylor.