Meet Owner Stephen (right), and Head Roaster Niko (left), of Bell Lane. Bell Lane has been roasting coffee in Mullingar, Westmeath since 2012. They've won many awards within the coffee industry along the way to where they are today. Prior to Bell Lane, Stephen spent many moons in the hospitality industry as well as a coffee roaster and is now a certified Q grader of coffee. He set up Bell Lane with his wife, Denise.
Niko and Stephen met at a coffee tasting event in Dublin and their relationship went from strength the strength and Niko has now been the head roaster for Bell Lane for almost 4 years. Stephen and Niko work well together as they have common goals for roasting coffee and how the whole process should flow from sourcing coffee beans to pulling shots. They believe in transparency as a core aspect of sourcing coffee which is why they support direct trade with the farmers producing the coffee. This means farmers can receive a fair price for the work they do.
They have been on several origin trips to visit farms including Honduras, Brazil, and Uganda (video below). Bell Lane has recently undertaken a project with a farmer in Colombia called Bernardo Echivery which has been incredibly difficult in these times and rather than being in Colombia with Bernardo, both Niko and Stephen have had countless Zoom calls to keep in contact. For a farmer there is a lot of risk in growing coffee, as each year the harvest can be affected for several reasons, however, with this project, Bell Lane has become financially involved in the harvest and has pledged to buy the whole harvest from Bernardo. As well as educating Bernardo, Bell Lane is boosting the farmer's profile and future revenue opportunities. A touch of class.
Now in the roastery, it's not all bells and whistles as apparently after spending months throughout lockdown together in the Roastery both Stephen and Niko have agreed to disagree on each others taste in music! Niko, by all accounts, is coffee 24/7 and he even takes his work on holidays in the form of coffee samples! His favourite coffee to roast is Kenyan but he loves roasting a new coffee for the first time as it allows him to play around with the roast profile to bring the most out of the coffee. Kenyan coffee tends to not follow the general coffee roasting principals so this is one of the reasons why Niko is a fan! He loves a challenge.