Interview: Lost Sheep Coffee founder, Stuart Wilson
Stuart chats to FoodTribe about the perfect cup of coffee, how Lost Sheep has grown, and why you should put down the syrup...
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From a year of backpacking in Australia and Asia, through a baaaaad first day on the job, to owning Kent's speciality coffee scene, Lost Sheep Coffee is now going from strength to strength. Founder Stuart Wilson chats to FoodTribe about the company's journey, how to make the perfect cup of coffee, and why you should step away from the syrup...
What makes Lost Sheep different from other coffee companies?
It's really important to us that we have full traceability for all of our coffees, right to the farmer/farm. We pride ourselves with our consistent use of Speciality Grade Coffee (Grade 1A) and never settle for anything less. We also hand roast all of our coffee, making sure that each roast is roasted to perfection.
What’s important to look for when buying coffee?
When we buy coffee: When we're buying green coffee we make sure that it has been certified Speciality Grade. Without this, we can't guarantee it's of the highest quality, which is of course what we want every time. With all of our coffee we have FULL traceability, and make sure that every farmer is paid better than Fair Trade prices for their coffee.
When you buy coffee: Have a look at when the coffee was roasted, and purchase the coffee that has been roasted most recently. Check out the label and make sure you can see what country/town/farm the coffee came from. That way you can trace it back! Lastly, check the grade, and purchase Speciality Grade for the best available quality.
What are the different grades of coffee and the differences between them?
All coffee in the world is graded, with 5 being the lowest and 1 being the highest. Typically your high street coffee will fall into grade 3, with instant coffee typically in grade 4. All of the coffee we source comes from grade 1a, which equates to the top 5% of all coffee grown in the world.
How do you make a great cup of coffee?
If you want a coffee quickly on the go, you can't beat a Nespresso machine for practicality – and don't forget to use our fully compostable plastic-free capsules for that!
But nothing beats making a filter coffee (V60 or Aeropress) at home. This ritual is awesome as you can grind your beans fresh, weigh and time everything, taking full control over all aspects of the brew, and enjoy the process too.
How has Lost Sheep coffee revolutionised the coffee industry?
We've revolutionised the mainstream coffee industry by making Speciality coffee accessible to everyone, anywhere. Whether this be in your office, at home or while out shopping. We give everyone the opportunity to experience the best coffees possible, whether you're a coffee geek or not, we believe everyone has the right to experience Speciality Grade Coffee.
How important is sustainability to you?
It's at the forefront of everything we do right now, and moving forward. We're showing the big guys that you can do sustainability on mass!
What’s the one thing you wish people wouldn’t order for/in/with their coffee?
Syrup! Because the quality of our coffee, the care, the attention and the love we put into each roast and each pour is great as it is. We believe the coffee tastes amazing the way we serve it, so to put a syrup in an already delicious coffee, is like putting a syrup in a good quality Scotch...... We feel you just shouldn't do it.
What do you think about the rise in popularity of alternative milks?
We think it's great! It gives people so many options. We actually roast our blend 'Get To The Hopper' to combine perfectly with alternative milks such as oat or soy. Most definitely worth a try if you're into alternative milks.
What’s next for Lost Sheep?
Next is expansion, the Sheep are growing! We're just about to launch our first round of investment to facilitate our rapid growth and popularity, and you’ll see Lost Sheep Coffee appearing on more national supermarket shelves in 2020. Someone recently called us the Brew Dog of coffee, which was a nice compliment.