Ed Greenall is our new Head of Coffee Operations and we’re super psyched to have him batting for our team.
We had a chat with Ed to find out more about his time in coffee so far and we tackle some very important life questions, like sandwich fillings.
What was the coffee that changed everything?
I remember it. It was Rocko Mountain – a natural Ethiopia. It was the first coffee I had that didn’t taste like coffee – it tasted like blueberry juice – dead fruity. It really stood out because it didn’t taste like coffee should taste to me. It was so unique. So different. That was definitely where my mind just blew. It made me ask questions: What is this? Why does it taste like this? What does natural mean? What’s a washed and what’s a natural?
I have many. One was definitely meeting my wife for the first time in a roastery. I was at Origin; she was Head of Coffee at Selfridges and she came to visit the roastery.
The other highlight was last November at HasBean when we were visited by a coffee producer from Guatemala. They produce an amazing coffee called El Limon, and this coffee is probably my all-time favourite, in terms of what it means to me. It was one of those moments – you know – where you meet people in your life and you’re just stunned. These two farmers came to England for a week and spent time in the roastery talking to us about green coffee, asking us about roasting. They were so proud that their coffee was being roasted by us. Beto, the coffee farmer, spent two minutes with me talking about growing coffee. He explained the hard work, care and attention to detail it takes to grow the crop. He told me how many people work on the farm and how much time they spend looking after the trees, how careful they must be with picking, fermenting, processing etc. At any point in the process, they could muck it all up. Let’s say on one day, someone doesn’t turn the cherries when drying, they aren’t going to know until way further down the line that it’s not right. Beto had this warmth and this energy that was just infectious. The guy has no negative bones in his body, he’s all about positivity and sharing what he knows, and sharing the love he has for coffee with you. It was pretty inspiring. I then brewed El Limon for my family at my wedding; I was so honoured to brew it. I got my old boss to take it to Guatemala for him as a gift.
What’s your coffee journey been so far?
I started off at Booths supermarket in Lancashire as a general assistant in the café and I knew nothing about coffee – I didn’t even know how to make it. I was basically self-taught, I used to watch videos on how to steam milk and pour latte art. One day I met the supplier of coffee for the cafes and went on to work for him as a customer service assistant processing orders, and that’s where I tasted Rocko Mountain. I then got a job in Manchester for Pot Kettle Black as a barista, before applying for a job with Origin as a production assistant. I spent two years at Origin where I learnt roasting and worked my way up to quality control manager. Then I left Origin to join HasBean as a roaster, spending two years roasting coffee and looking after quality control. I left in June 2019 to move on to my next venture – Roastworks as Head of Coffee Operations.
What made you want to work with Roastworks?
The potential. The capsule market and the potential for getting better coffee to people who perhaps haven’t experienced it before. Especially in a market that people consider to be hugely commercial. One of my best friends who is a coffee buyer once said to me, you can always go to a big company and you’ll live off that brand, you’ll be in a good place with lots of structure, but you’ll never really have much of a say. Or, you can go somewhere small and share your knowledge and skills with other people, perhaps having a bit more of an impact on the culture, whilst building relationships with people. In a smaller business, I think there’s more opportunity to leave it in a better place than where you found it and use that platform for positive change and positive things. I’m excited about that.
What’s your go-to brew method?
I have two – because it depends on how many people I’m brewing for and what I want out of it. The first is a Chemex – which I’d brew if it’s for more than two. It’s really therapeutic. I love folding filter papers on a Sunday morning, I find it so relaxing. It’s a good method for sharing what you like about coffee with other people.
Then the other one would be a V60, which I would brew for me and maybe one other person. I think my recipe for a V60 is probably a bit different to everyone else’s. I go for a really coarse grind and I pour my water over in 45 second increments – I let the water go all the way through the bed of coffee before pouring it again. I find it amplifies the clarity, making a really clear and vivid cup.
Fave sandwich filling?
Chorizo, mozzarella, pesto – beauty. Whenever we fly from Stansted, we go to Holtwhites Bakery and stock up on their version of this sandwich. It’s the best bread and we have a constant supply in the freezer thanks to my wife working in London.
First music you bought?
The first album I bought was Elephunk by Black Eyed Peas in HMV Lancaster in 2004. It was the first bit of money I saved up from pocket money. It had all the classics: Hey Mama, Shut Up, Where is the love? My first single was probably Usher – Yeah.
Next travel destination?
Thailand. For the food, culture, scenery, lifestyle – we want to experience Asian culture. I’ve never been out of Europe, so we really want to go to South East Asia next.
What music is on repeat right now?
Probably Drake right now because the Toronto Raptors recently won the NBA finals. And our wedding party playlist – which ranges from Fleetwood Mac to Outkast to Ariana Grande.
One thing people might not know about you:
I used to do athletics as a kid and I wanted to be a professional athlete. I competed in the 400m hurdles and I was once ranked 8th in the UK for 400m hurdles, plus North of England champion. I was super lucky and got to compete for my university in the National Championships in the Olympic stadium in London 2012, before the professional competitions started. I was ranked 32nd going into it and finished 20th. Being able to compete on this course before Holt, before heroes of mine, was really special. A few days later I watched the men’s final of the 400m hurdles and I saw Felix Sanchez from the Dominican Republic win his 2nd Olympic gold medal in the lane that I ran in. Lane 8.