How the South West created the perfect cup of coffee

Posted by thewinkingprawn on April 15, 2016


At the Winking Prawn Group we serve a pretty awesome cup of coffee, even if we do say so ourselves, but it wouldn’t be possible without the perfect blend to make it with.  So to bring you your cappuccino, Americano, espresso or latte we turned to Voyager Coffee, the local brand from Buckfastleigh with an Italian twist.  Talking about roasting, blending, tasting and giving you a glimpse at the people behind the brand we chatted to their MD Andrew Tucker...


How did Voyager Coffee start?


Going back more than 15 years I did a lot of travelling around South America and I also worked in France in the ski industry where I got a very different taste for coffee than I had experienced in the UK.  After that I worked with a manufacturer of coffee machines which included designing a new model, and after I left my role there I was thinking about what to do with myself as a single parent when a friend asked me to source a coffee machine for them – developing my own business started there!  The coffee industry was a bit stuck at the time and was very different to the way it is now.  I wanted a brand with an Italian feel so spoke to a manufacturer in Italy.  I got a cheap flight to Stansted and drove up from Devon, slept in the car and put on a suit to meet them before coming back and we grew from there, becoming the Italian coffee specialists of the South West providing the coffee, the machines and the training!


Who’s the brains behind the brand and who makes it all work?


I’m still frothing ideas out on a daily basis and we have a really good team of people around us who take those and filter them down to make them work.  Emma Davis is our brilliant Finance Director and she is the person who then puts it all in place.  I’m definitely more of an ideas person!


What makes the perfect cup of coffee?


Good coffee is hard to define but it starts with a good quality and interesting blend; that will always stand out.  Good quality coffee then needs to be made on good equipment as so many machines on the market overheat the coffee.  Finally, you need good staff who know know what they’re doing and really enjoy it!


What makes your coffee better than everyone else’s?


The way we select the coffee that we roast is quite rigorous and we spend a lot of time sampling it and roasting to get the best flavours from it in the same way that you would spend a lot of time on any other cooking.  That process is supported by the fact that we supply good equipment that looks after the coffee well and we provide excellent training.


How do you make your business sustainable?


The biggest volume of coffee that we roast is Fatroc which is a triple certified blend that has Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Organic certifications, so it’s a sustainable product as are most of our coffees.  The majority of the beans we roast in house have sustainable accreditation and sustainability and social responsibility has always been a priority for Voyager.  For instance, our Voyager Road Trip coffee that The Winking Prawn serves comprises of three beans. Daterra was one of Brazil’s first sustainable coffee farms to gain Rainforest Alliance Certification and is one of the best coffee producers in the world and Sol y Café co-operative in Northern Peru is where we get our second component of Road Trip, dedicated to supporting its communities and the surrounding environment. We work hard to ensure that our supply routes are ethical and sustainable farms rather than using mass production with lots of sprayed chemicals.  So we’re sustainable through the chain of people we work with and then on the other side of it we do a lot of internal recycling – at the moment our roaster is making shopping bags from the coffee sacks that we get the beans delivered in – a great recycling opportunity!


What’s the best thing about working in Devon and Cornwall?


I can’t think why you would want to work anywhere else! I love living here and that’s it – when you’re driving to see customers you’re on a beautiful coastline or across the moors or in beautiful villages.


What’s your idea of the perfect Sunday morning?


The perfect Sunday morning is waking up on a sunny day on my old boat somewhere like Salcombe or Fowey and grinding some fresh coffee in our portable coffee grinder and brewer called a Cafflano.


What are you most excited about at Voyager Coffee in 2016?


I’m looking forward to the launch of our Around the World Tasting Club which is a trade only coffee tasting club where people are sent a different coffee from around the world each month with tasting notes.  They get a sample of coffee and a hand grinder and over-cup filter so they can taste the coffee properly at home and learn how different the experience can be!