I think it’s time to admit I have a problem. I’m Will, Roastworks Co-Founder and I am addicted to old roasting machines.
I’ve been at it again. I’ve just taken delivery of a very special roasting machine: one that I don’t need, one we’re probably never going to use, one I don’t have time to refurbish, but one I just have to own. Sounds pretty loco, right? Well, let me explain why I’d do something as stupid as this.
The machine I’ve bought is very special for three reasons. Firstly, it’s a 30kg GW Barth Menado, and for those of you that have been paying attention, that’s the same make and model as our beloved production roaster. They’re getting pretty rare, and I happen to have a massive soft spot for them.
Secondly, not only is it a GW Barth, but it’s a GW Barth that used to belong to Square Mile Coffee Roasters. Up until four years ago, this was “Square’s” main production roaster and has roasted probably thousands of tonnes of some of the UK’s most beloved coffees.
It doesn’t stop there. The third reason why I had to own this machine is because of the significance it plays in the Roastworks story. Let’s wind the clock back. The year is 2012. Caroline and I have recently moved back from London. We haven’t yet started Roastworks, but are throwing around the idea of doing something in speciality coffee. I reached out to James Hoffmann to ask him if I could come visit the Square Mile roastery to gain some insight and get some inspiration. My parents ran a coffee roastery at the time which used a 60kg GW Barth, and I was fascinated to find out what Square had done with theirs and how they were using it.
James very kindly obliged and I was like a kid in a sweet shop (pun intended). The set up at Square Mile was so professional and quality focussed. I’d never seen anything like it before. At the heart of the roastery was the 30kg GW Barth, recently refurbished (shout out to Malcolm!), and looking badass. It made an impression on me. To see the same roaster I’d grown up with in my parent’s roastery being used for speciality coffee really revved my engine and ultimately motivated me to want to refurbish ours and start Roastworks. OK, it would take another 4 years before I grew to a size big enough to warrant refurbishing and using a 60kg roaster, but my visit to Square Mile that day was the catalyst.
So, yes, it’s another old roasting machine. My addiction has got the better of me, but in my defence, for me it’s probably the single most significant roasting machine on this planet. That’s why I had to own it. I want to say a big thank you to Tom Flawith and the excellent team at Square Mile for making it all happen and giving me a chance to get my hands on this beautiful piece of history. I will refurbish it, one day. But for now, I’m comfortable with my addiction. I’ve had my fix…for now.
The GW Barth roasting museum will open Summer of 2059 and tickets are being presold at an early bird discount of just £45,000 each. Joking, of course!Back to listings