Talking to Recent Beans

Coffee Roasters in Castleford

Eat.Drink.Wakefield | 08.02.2021

Starbucks, Costa, Caffe Nero, Costa, Pret, Starbucks, Costa, Costa. Another Starbucks. Another Costa.

The presence of so many coffee shops on our high street and retail parks is a sign of just how mainstream coffee culture has become.

Wakefield and Castleford are swamped with coffee shops. Thankfully there are plenty of local independents rubbing shoulders with larger chains, but have you ever stopped to think about exactly when – and where – your coffee was roasted?

Coffee Roasters Wakefield

Until recently the search term ‘coffee roasters wakefield’ would prove fruitless, with roasters in Leeds and Huddersfield dominating the results.

So it was a great relief to discover Recent Beans, a coffee roasters based in Queen’s Mill in Castleford – a WF postcode, that’s close enough!

Ordering a couple of bags of their ground coffee to try one Sunday evening, I was amazed to find them drop through the door the next morning, just as my last bag of coffee was running out. Lifesaver!

The coffee itself was superb. It was smartly packaged, too, with the date of roasting clearly marked and a tasting card telling you exactly where your coffee has come from.

As you might have gathered from the name, Recent Beans’ coffee is all about freshness – recently roasted coffee just tastes better.

We spoke to Barry from Recent Beans to find out a bit more about what makes their offering so unique.

Tell us a bit about how Recent Beans started

Recent beans is very much a passion project.

I worked for a large pub company for 20 years, running pubs in various parts of the country. When I was offered voluntary redundancy after the pandemic hit, I decided it was now or never for doing something I truly loved, roasting coffee.  

I put together a business plan, bought a 5kg Toper roaster from Turkey and started putting the gamble together! 

What made you set up at Queens MIll in Castleford?

An opportunistic moment! I was doing market research around Castleford and popped into the Queens Mill Tearooms to talk coffee suppliers. I met the owner Dana, we hit it off and she set me up on a tour of the Mill to see if it would be a good fit. I loved the Mill and the Heritage Trust that run it, the people involved are incredibly passionate and dedicated to the cause, they help in every way they can are are individually some of the most interesting and knowledgeable people you could hope to have on side.  They really want the business to prosper!

Your USP is quality and freshness - why is fresh coffee so much better?

It’s a very simple USP.

I’ve roasted coffee at home for many years, the difference between a stale, over roasted and mass marketed coffee and a speciality AA grade coffee that’s just been roasted is like the difference between a can of supermarket saver lager and a freshly tapped, hand pulled real ale. You can’t compare.

Coffee really should be treated as a fresh product, just because it’s safe to drink a year after roasting doesn’t make it any good-  If you’ve had a fresh coffee, you’ll know what I mean! 

Tell us a bit more about where your coffee comes from and how you source it.

We tried over 100 different coffees before settling on our core range, we’re continuing to try coffees from all over the world and changing our roast profiles to constantly improve. We purposely don’t stock a big range as we want to roast every day, insuring our customers get our coffee within a day or two of coming out of the roaster.  
 
We currently stock Brazil Ipanema Reserve, AA grade Kenya Samburu, Papua New Guinea Arokora, Vietnam Lam Dong (one of the few Arabica offers from Vietnam) and a Peruvian Organic Decaf.
 
All our beans have been ethically sourced by the importer and have been bought at a much higher than market price.  These are specialist beans, far apart from common commodity coffees.  
 
In the future we hope to be able to visit the farms and wash houses where these beans are sourced from and develop relationships with the farmers, watch this space! 

What's the difference between coffee from an independent roaster like Recent Beans and mass produced coffee from the supermarket?

Ours has just come out of the roaster! If it hasn’t got a roasted on date, it isn’t fresh. You can get premium beans from some supermarkets if you look hard enough, but if you want a coffee as it should be, get one as close to the roasting date as possible! 

I ordered your coffee one evening and it arrived the next morning! How do you do that?!

We roast 7 days a week, if you order before 2pm we will roast and pack it the same day. If you’re in Castleford we try to deliver it that evening! We want the first cup the next morning to be a true experience of coffee from a roaster. 

There aren't many coffee roasters in the Wakefield/Castleford area - why do you think that is?

There’s some terrific roasters around and about, although I believe we are the only commercial ones in Castleford. I’m sure there will be more in the near future as the trend grows for having great coffee at home. It’s a difficult industry that the big multinationals easily dominate.

Leeds is home to some stand out coffee rock stars in the roaster world though and we’re really just hopping on some coat tails!

How does the Wakefield/Castleford coffee scene compare to bigger cities like Leeds and Sheffield?

Leeds and Sheffield specifically have some of the top roasters in the country! Castleford and Wakefield have some of the best coffee shops though! 
 
For us it’s purely about the roast at the moment. We want to showcase how fresh great coffee can be at a coffee shop.  
 
We’ve started partnering with some cracking venues that want to stock fresh.  No minimum order levels, no delivery fees so there’s never a bonus to buying more than you can sell in a couple of weeks.  That way customers will know that if a venue stocks Recent Beans coffee, it’s always going to be premium beans, straight from the roaster.
 
Dana (Queens Mill tea rooms) will be getting her coffee daily…that takes some beating! 

Coffee culture has boomed in recent years - what do you put that down to?

The end of the percolator?!
 
Without sounding like ‘that guy’ the 3rd Wave coffee movement is changing the game for the better.
 
Previously we all wanted shiny black, ‘Italian’ or ‘french’ roast (completely unfair as neither country tends to roast that dark) and we called it ‘strong’. The supermarkets even numbered the coffee for strength  – this was just marketing.
 
A strong coffee is strong because you used a larger amount.  What they really meant by strong was dark roasted.  This meant people bought bitter, bad coffee because they wanted strong coffee.
 

Consumers are now using great equipment at home and really enjoying a lighter roast, premium coffee. You don’t need to spend thousands to enjoy great coffee though, a V60, drip filter or cafetière all work wonderfully!  My best advice for starting a coffee journey? Don’t always go with a dark roast.

How can independent roasters and coffee shops compete with big chains?

At the moment no big chains are roasting their coffee on site (that I know of, please don’t sue me..!).
 
The biggest chains use a pretty dark roast, well past the second crack, so you’re buying very bitter coffee that you sweeten with a ton of milk, syrup and cinnamon etc.
 
As the third wave of coffee continues to grow, they will need to adapt fast to keep up with the skilled local coffee shop baristas, knocking out a killer macchiato with a fresh medium roasted blend, delivered days before from a local roaster.

What's next for Recent Beans?

Survival hopefully! We’ve been blown away by the support locally.  

We’ve made some amazing connections and absorbed advice like a sponge.

Hopefully the next few years will be about us getting our name out there as a quality roaster with a great reputation. We want the brand to be associated with the best coffee shops in Yorkshire. We want to really be able to say we partnered with the top baristas and helped in every way we could to develop the local coffee scene.  

Where can we buy your coffee?

Online at Recent-Beans.com or at the Queens Mill in Castleford.
 

Recent Beans

Queens Mill, Aire Street, Castleford, WF10 1JL