FOUR and a half years ago, Claire Kloeden and Tom Brazier decided that what their corner of Somerset needed was speciality coffee.

Being from Australia, Claire introduced Tom to the Third Wave of Coffee movement that has been happening over there. People have stopped seeing coffee as a commodity, like oil or rice, and more like a speciality item, like wine.

Third wave of coffee

This means that when you buy a coffee in Australia, you know where it is from, the variety of the beans and it’s brewed to exacting standards.

Tom explained: “By buying from individual farms, you can get a better quality of coffee. You need to have a traceable supply chain, which ensures there are fewer people involved, which means that everybody gets more money, particularly the farmers.

“The Third Wave of coffee helps to make sure they are paid a higher price for the coffee they provide.

“It is like Fairtrade coffee, but with Fairtrade you are asked to pay more without a difference in quality. Whereas with speciality grade coffee, you pay a bit more and you get a better-quality coffee with a whole load of stories and provenance and so on. Everyone benefits and we found that incredibly exciting.”

So, Tom and Claire decided to set up Brazier Coffee Roasters and they now supply over 100 cafes, restaurants, and hotels in the South West.

They began by buying a coffee roaster from Holland in 2015.

As Tom said: “Claire was heavily pregnant with our 2nd child and I drove to Holland where the roasters are made, in a battered old car with a horse trailer on the back.

“I picked up a beautifully made Giesen Roaster and we set-up in a tin shed in West Hatch, Taunton.

“As production increased, we moved premises to the historic Tonedale Mills in Wellington where we also set up a training café so that companies could bring in their staff and we could provide training on how to make exceptional coffee.”

Soon after, Tom and Claire decided to open this training café to the public and now it has become a loved and well-known café.

Following its success, they set up Braziers at the Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton, which has gone from strength to strength.

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So what makes Brazier coffee so special?

Tom explained: “Last Summer, I was out in Rwanda, visiting one of the farms that we get our coffee from. It was set up by a lady who lost most of her family during the genocide.

“She initially set up a school and a hospital and then in order to fund them, she set up a coffee farm.

“We also have another farm in Honduras, a lady who has a small farm and we buy all of her coffee. We’ve committed to this for the next five years, which means she has a stable future and she can invest into the quality of the coffee, so that it moves up the Q grade scale (the industry measure for grading coffee).”

So, the process of growing the coffee is carefully thought about from start to finish.

Tom is then sent samples, which they roast and taste using a process called ‘cupping’.

Once they have picked the beans based on flavour, Tom and his team tend to roast them lighter than normal coffee, which adds a lot more sweetness. As Tom said: “You don’t need sugar with a well-made cup of coffee.

“Many people don’t know that the roasting process is the most complex chemical reaction that takes place within food. There are 1,000s of different chemical reactions that take place while something is roasting.”

Once coffee has been roasted, Tom explained that it should be drunk within two weeks to make sure that the coffee does not loose its flavour.

“I still love coffee- the taste of it, the story of it. I love finding a new flavour. When people begin to learn what wine they like, they look out for it whether that be a Pino Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and so on.

“I think that before long, people will know the same about their coffees. With coffee you have so many different varieties of coffee beans that are all completely different.”

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Food at Braziers

At Braziers, they also serve food – again inspired by the Australian brunch culture.

Tom and Claire have offered a high-end menu with foods such as truffled mushrooms with a crispy poached egg and kimchi quesadillas with salsa.

They are also offering street food style bagels for lunchtime and home-made cakes. As well as providing brasserie style French pre-theatre meals, which you can book before you see certain shows at the Brewhouse.

Tom added: “It is really exciting for us, as both cafes have become a hub for local community and I think that is something that your theatre should be too.

“The atmosphere of a good coffee shop is a really great place to be.”

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