The latest pick for Secret Coffee Club is Heart & Graft, a Manchester-based coffee roastery with a vision to “be a place where people can come and be inspired by the journey coffee takes from field to cup”.
Not only do they provide coffee shops and customers with their picks of the best coffee beans from around the world, but they also host events, training days and cupping events to build a relationship with the community and show that coffee can be at the heart if it.
Heart & Graft
James and Sean are the brains behind the name.
James had set up The Coffee Circle in 2012 in response to the lack of speciality coffee in the city to learn about the complex craft of roasting, whilst working as a barista. Sean was the youngest Q grader in the country.
Sounds like a match made in coffee heaven.
They have been roasting for over a decade combined, so have learnt how to bring the best out of the beans they source.
As well as sourcing top-quality coffee for both cafes and customers, they want to enable people to visit the roastery and immerse themselves in the journey of bean to cup.
Since moving to a new site in Newton Heath with plenty of space, they have been able to build a dedicated training room where a dedicated trainer is able to help customers understand the science behind their roasting techniques, as well as workshops on how to make better coffee for customers.
They place a focus on roasting the beans in order to draw out their natural characteristics, so you can easily pick out the coffee for you based on the flavours you love, and the kind of coffee experience you are after.
Heart & Graft roast their coffee to three different levels:
- Light Medium Roast: Citrus, floral and complex flavours
- Medium Roast: Chocolate or caramel sweetness with berry or nutty characteristics.
- Medium-Dark Roast: Full-bodied and rich
They give a full guide on how to choose your coffee, depending on the kind of experience you are after. With choices of lighter fruity coffees, with hints of sweetness and creaminess, to darker roasts which pack a bit more of a punch but still have elements of nuttiness and sweetness, there is a Single Origin option for every kind of coffee drinker.
With some House Blends available too, the team has created slightly more bold, unique offerings which are pushed that little bit further in the roasting levels and offer complexity and full-bodied tastes which seasoned coffee connoisseurs will adore.
Barnraiser is supplied to many of Manchester’s top cafes and bars, for example. It has been designed as an espresso, which is ideal to use for a base for the more complex coffee drinks available on menus across the city.
There is also a 60/40 blend, named after the 60% Brazil and 40% India beans which are behind it. The combination packs a punch, ideal for someone who wants that full coffee experience.
Both are available to buy at home too of course, which is great if you have your full coffee kit at home and want to bring the cafes to your kitchen.
They’ve recently worked with Miriam Perez, joint-founder of the COMSA coop in Marcala, Honduras as well as a fourth-generation coffee farmer, women’s rights activist, pioneer of bio-dynamic farming and Fair Trade representative for Central America.
The roastery championed a collection of coffees from her farm, showing that they are keen to work with growers from around the world to build relationships and source the beans.
When you order a bag, there is information provided about the roasting date, region/variety of bean, and when the optimum time period is for brewing after the roast date – most give you 6 months.
It is also resealable, and there is the all-important one-way valve on the bag which will release the excess carbon dioxide, keeping the coffee fresh and extending the shelf life.
What We Tried
We picked out two Single Origin coffees – Serendipia and Loveshack.
The latter is a medium roast, with hints of fruit and berry but an underlying sweetness which makes it really easy to drink. The former has hints of chocolate and caramel, which we picked for a slightly more luxurious cup of Joe.
Serendipia is from Honduras, precisely the Marcala region. You can definitely taste the coffee, but the cocoa, hazelnut and caramel work really well behind the scenes to make it a coffee blend which is easy to drink either in the morning when you need to ease yourself into the day, or if you need an afternoon pick-me-up which works very well after lunch.
Loveshack hails from Brazil. Flavour tones include Pecan Pie and Peanut Butter, but choosing whether to leave out or add milk is where it really shines.
Have it black, and there is a citrusy lemon theme which is sweet and invigorating. Add milk, and this is where the chocolate emerges, and these notes are enhanced. Basically, you get two coffees in one and can drink it however your mood takes you.
We chose for the coffee to come as wholebean in a 250g bag (1kg is also available), for use in a bean to cup coffee machine, but you can also select French Press, Filter, or Green Beans if you fancy roasting at home yourself.
Espresso coffee is also available, both for 9+ bar machines and those under 9 bars, so double-check which yours is!
As mentioned, Heart & Graft have moved to bigger premises within the past year, which has enabled them to host a string of events and training courses on top of their coffee roasting. They also place education and community at the forefront of what they do.
Highlights have included:
- 2 x UK Barista Championship Northern heats
- 1 x World Coffee Research presentation
- 4 x Sage home espresso masterclasses
- 35+ training sessions for baristas and bartenders from all over the UK
This just shows how well the team are placed to provide you with some of the best coffee in the country – in order to host these kinds of situations, they really need to know what they are doing.
Heart & Graft have an online store, where they not only sell their coffee picks but also items which make the brewing-at-home experience a lot easier.
Picks include the infamous Bialetti Moka Pot, as well as the sought-after Induction Plate for use on induction hobs. To show off just how much you rate them, there is also Heart & Graft merchandise, as well as a gift card in case you need to introduce any fellow coffee lovers to the roasters and are looking for a good Christmas/Birthday/You’ve Made it Through The Week gift.
They have a shop in Salford too, which they describe as “a great place to taste our coffees…and our staff at the shop always love to have a chat about coffee or brewing methods or anything!”
In terms of creating the baristas of tomorrow, they have a full training bar for curious minds to learn and practice all they like – after all, coffee will forever be a learning curve as new specialities and techniques emerge.