Chameleon guards to Swiss Water Decaf, the story of Owen's Organic Coffee
When I asked Lorraine Bridden, owner of Owen’s Organic Coffee, to describe her company in just three words, she smiled: “I don’t want to be greedy but can I have four? We can’t cut any of our buzzwords out!”. As ‘Ethical, Sustainable, Uncompromising, and Innovative’ aligned perfectly with what we believe in here at Eversfield, I was more than happy to bend the rules.
If you were to enter Eversfield HQ on a Monday morning, I think one thing might catch your attention. Obviously, the number of good-looking employees we have might also come as a surprise, but the lingering smell of organic coffee would certainly be the initial highlight! This aroma would be one of Owen’s Organic Coffee blends and we feel it’s time that our loyal customers are given the opportunity to hear their story.
I was recently lucky enough to be given the full Owen’s Experience at their organic roastery in Ivybridge. Lorraine acquired the company in 2010 with just a handful of local customers on the books. Having been originally based in Modbury, a village with a history of pioneering environmentally-friendly practices, Lorraine ensured that the company was built with sustainability in mind at every step of the process.
Image: Lorraine Bridden, owner and director of Owen's Organic Coffee
So, what are the differences between an organic coffee vendor and a conventional one? Well like other organic production chains, both the welfare of the farmers and the environment are the priority. Lorraine explained: “All of our coffee beans are fairtrade, meaning a better quality of life for our farmers and their families. Our organic status also translates to a number of benefits for the environment.”
These benefits begin at the bean. Marketing Director Liz Orgill recently visited the coffee plantation in Rwanda where Owen’s Organic Jabulani single origin is produced. Liz discussed her inspiring trip with me. “It was just amazing to see the care that goes into crafting a product that seems so simple when it reaches us. Conventional coffee production methods often rely on deforestation in order to provide more sun exposure. But our coffee beans are shade-grown in Rwanda’s natural shrubby landscape, resulting in a slower process and added flavour development.
“Another big difference occurs during the washing stage of the production process. The waste shells of the beans are utilised as a natural fertiliser for the soil, whilst the water which is used is stored and recycled, limiting waste to a minimum. On conventional plantations, this stage results in chemical fertilisers polluting the land, rivers, and community.” So, by choosing organic coffee you help protect important forest habitats and their ecosystems.
Image: Rwanda's fairtrade coffee bean plantation
Like me, you may wonder how these farmers manage to protect their coffee beans from pesky pests who are looking for an easy snack. Well, I assure you the answer isn’t what you will be expecting. On Liz’ trip, she witnessed farmers employing their local chameleons for the good of organic coffee! “Farmers were giving them a helping hand and moving them tree to tree in order to protect the plantation. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”
Inspired by the adaptable nature of their champion coffee blends, Lorraine was passionate about Owen’s sustainability ethos. “We moved on from Modbury in 2018 due to the opportunity to build a facility from the ground up using environmentally-friendly materials.
“As the heartbeat of our organic coffee production, our roaster says everything about our brand.” The roaster in question is quite the spectacle, a shiny brute of a machine that purrs like a content cat. Manufactured by Loring, the coffee roaster uses 80% less energy than conventional roasters. Further, with all packaging recyclable and industrially compostable, it is clear to see Lorraine’s sustainable vision.
Lorraine continued: “We’re striving to make Owen’s a one-stop shop for coffee lovers. Our takeaway coffee shop showcases our fantastic product range, as well as selling a range of locally-sourced bites and sweet treats. Our terrace area allows our customers a chance to enjoy their beverage alongside friends and family. We also sell equipment, meaning we’ve got you covered for all your home brewing needs.”
Don’t be fooled though, Owen’s is far more than just an organic coffee shop. Whilst I (quite clumsily) tried my hand at a number of brewing techniques with head barista Jen, Lorraine explained the reasoning behind their on-site state-of-the-art training facility. “We’re big on bringing people in and sharing the whole coffee experience face-to-face.
“We cater for tasting and brewing experiences, as well as group barista masterclass training courses for those who really want to take their coffee production to the next level.” I think a bit more practice is needed before I win any awards for my latte art, but for any coffee lovers, this is an obligatory experience.
Aside from championing sustainable production methods, a number of Owen’s products have been recognised with national awards for their supreme taste. We’re proud to stock superb roasts such as Batham, Gara, Baya, Dart, Tunki and Decaf. I was intrigued to learn from the secrets behind their renowned Decaf. “We’re known for doing an extremely good organic decaff that actually tastes of coffee”, exclaimed Lorraine.
“A lot of decaff coffees actually strip out the caffeine using chemicals. However, we decaffeinate using the Swiss Water Method which is chemical free. Obviously, this is important to us as we ensure 100% of our coffee range is organic.”
I tried to pressure Lorraine into picking her favourite product from their stellar range but she was adamant that they’re all her babies! As a compromise, she revealed that her personal espresso machine is currently filled up with Baya, a deep, dark and spicy roasted blend. It quickly became apparent when discussing coffee with my own colleagues that Owen’s selection caters for all tastes and we’re truly proud to have such a forward-thinking supplier as a part of our wider Eversfield Organic family.