Ex-Starbucks executive brings immersive coffee experience chain to UK
Ex-Starbucks executive Mike Caswell has launched an immersive coffee experience chain in the UK – and there are plans to roll-out the concept.
Roasting Plant Coffee, is to open its first site outside the US in a 50-seat, 1,500 sq ft site in London's Borough High Street.
Its sites, which have been described as "Willy Wonka" style and like stepping into a “walk-in roastery”, allow consumers to view the coffee beans being produced from green bean to cup and will serve just roasted coffee.
The US concept was created by Caswell, and now has sites in New York, Detroit, Minneapolis, Denver and San Francisco.
A 50:50 joint venture has been set up with entrepreneur Jamie Robertson, who is managing director of the UK company and his partner who is financial director Danny Vroegop.
“The UK is absolutely ripe for something completely new in coffee. I think that Starbucks, Caffe Nero and Costa have done extraordinarily well but interest is waning with the big chains,” Robertson told Coffee Business World.
“London is the first foray internationally and we will continue to expand in London when we get the right sites.”
He also admitted that there is potential for more sites across the UK and internationally.
The concept offers a range of premium coffees. Its Roasting Home blend is a mixture of Sumatran, Peruvian and Columbian origins, while consumers can order a range of premium coffees including Jamaica Blue Mountain as well as single origins from the Caribbean, Sumatra, Guatemala, Brazil and a Columbian Decaff. The concept also allows consumers to create their own blends depending on what beans are being roasted. This means that original blends that were previously a logistical impossibility can be created such as Colombian with Brazilian or Sumatran with Ethiopian.
Its sustainability credentials mean that it only offers cow, coconut, rice and oat milks as it believes that soya and almond are detrimental to the environment.
Caswell told Coffee Business World: “It has always been in my mind that it would be a logical step to go to another market. The UK is a logical one as it is culturally very similar, there are no language barriers and we recognise in the current moment that there is a real expanding and evolving coffee market and felt that the time was right for us.”
He said that the "key differentiator" for the brand is that it roasts in every store.
“The beans are automatically transported to the roaster and pre-programmed by bean type. The roaster measures and adapts air flow and temperature,” he said.
Once the roast is completed, the beans are cooled and delivered to tubes where they are rested and are available to customers as a whole bean purchase or to the counter to the baristas.