Spilling the beans over Dartford’s part in UK coffee production
Phil Smith at United
Coffee in Dartford
by Lizzie Massey
Sipping your favourite Italian-style coffee
- Ethiopian Mocha, Indonesian Java, or Colombian, Kenyan or
Peruvian blends - you might be surprised to hear that it was
probably roasted, blended, packaged and sold just down the
United Coffee, one of the largest producers in Europe, has a
roastery in the Riverside Industrial Estate, Dartford.
It is a pleasant surprise stepping out of your car at a busy
industrial estate and being hit with the rich smell of coffee, but
for the 78 largely Dartford-based employees it is just another day
at the office.
About 1% of the world's coffee bean exports are sent to the
Dartford factory to be roasted every year.
It does not sound like a lot, but coffee is the second largest
traded product world-wide after oil and 1% actually accounts for
9,000 tons, or about one billion cups of coffee each year.
A sample of roasted
and un-roasted coffee beans from United Coffee
Phil Smith, category manager at the roastery, said: "It's great
recognition for Dartford, but also for the country as a whole, even
in tough economic times the UK coffee market is booming."
The company provides whole bean and ground coffee world-wide to
5-star restaurants and hotels and top end independent cafes.
They also supply the blend for the world's largest fast-food
restaurant chain and a well-known UK high street bakers and pastry
The Dartford factory also roasts the popular Lyons retail brand,
which is also the only company in the UK to do coffee bags, a
convenient invention which gives that filter coffee taste, without
the time or fuss of a cafetiere.
United Coffee, which roasts about 70,000 tons of coffee a year,
was voted the Best Coffee Roaster in Europe by coffee industry
members across the continent.
United Coffee in
Riverside Way, Dartford
Phil said: "It's great because that was an award from our peers
and I think it's mainly down to people here in the UK steadily
becoming coffee connoisseurs, helping the industry go from strength
"The population is getting more educated about coffee, with
coffee shops providing a place to drink and socialise and people
going abroad more, experiencing new blends and tastes.
"I think coffee is still seen very much as an affordable treat
and as people discover what they like, they are going looking for
stronger, better-quality drinks here in the UK."