Joburg’s recently opened Urban Grind might sound like a coffee shop, but it’s not. ‘We do everything coffee,’ says co-founder Wayne Burrows of this roasting- and training-focused operation that’s all about ‘creating a better understanding of our craft.’ They roast up to seven single origins in house, supplying the industry and public, and providing both with mad coffee skills. We asked Wayne for the lowdown…
Explain the Urban Grind ethos…
Urban Grind is all about the true craft of coffee. The ethos is simple: roast coffee well for those who want to be a part of this delicious product. Train everyone to understand coffee (in the industry and at home), and appreciate how different coffee is person to person.
You’re not a coffee shop, but focus on the ‘back end’ – why is this important?
We focus on roasting and training. Why? This way, we are not dictated to by the consumer paying for his/her cup or how they want it. Rather educate the customer by providing an experience in the way we know will create a better understanding of our craft. We also roast for various restaurants/ cafes and we would like to be fair to them.
— Jacques Bornman (@jacquesbornman) July 4, 2015
Tell us about the various coffees you sell? We roast up to seven single origins in house, including Robusta. We are huge relationship coffee roasters: we’ve been to the farms of four of the seven coffees we have in store, and have personal relationships with the farmers and cooperatives. And we have relationships with the green bean brokers for the rest of them. These relationships are strict quality relationships – we demand the best coffee for the prices we pay. From a retail perspective, we roast and sell these coffees according to your brew process. Questions around how you make your coffee need to be asked and the correct coffee has to be provided according to this. This can take some time and is often not done in roasteries. We have to do this as it helps us push our boundaries around roasting and taste development. This all adds to our training the consumer to appreciate and understand coffee better.
Do you have a signature bean/coffee?
Yes, I guess we do. I do a lot of work in Uganda and have for a while. Our Ugandan Origin, roasted specifically for espresso and rested for a minimum of 14 days after roast, is yummy.
We have a blend we call the Judge – it’s our house blend, and has Ugandan, Ethiopian and Guatemalan origins in it. Big, bold and fun on the tongue. The unique way we have roasted the origins really test or ‘judge’ your palate.
Where and how do you source your beans?
Through Origin Trips and/or Brokers
Describe the look you’ve sought to achieve in the interiors and with your branding…
Urban Grind always had to be a place that was warm and inviting. As we train, we wanted a space that would promote thought and question asking.
The Urban Grind outer wood is our way of bringing the craft of coffee back and almost showing the old warehouse feel to what we do. We are old school with our approach to customers. What I mean by this is we ask a lot of questions and really care about our customers’ coffee experience. Much like walking into an old general dealer store.
Internally we wanted to show our meat. The roasters are on the customer frontline where they can see us roast, and even at times cross the balustrade and come in and help us.
The training centre is open plan and unless we point it out, many don’t even realise what they are sitting in. We want this – when you train, you are in the whole space and there is no surface in the store that cannot be used for training.
Both business partner Dirk and I wanted to pour our beliefs in coffee and the type of consumer into the space. We met over a cup of coffee and on a training basis, and this is what we would like to carry through into our coffee.
What else can customers expect?
A fun time with coffee. Learning more and, we hope, buying more.
Bringing their equipment into our training facility and learning to be more efficient on it. Whatever it is. We are not out to create coffee snobs. We are here to educate correctly.
What is it about coffee that makes you tick?
Everything! How volatile and alive it is!! I love the way we can play with it in roasting and extraction, changing everything we thought we knew about it.
I love the look on customers’ faces when I make them a gorgeous coffee, or I challenge their taste appreciation by doing something weird.
Urban Grind Roasters, 66 6th St, Parkhurst, Joburg
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