The Roaster

  • Tim Smith joins Johnsons Coffee training division

Tim Smith joins Johnsons Coffee training division

Tim Smith has been appointed as a trainer with Johnsons Coffee to help expand their training team, which supports the increasing number of new clients across Great Britain and Ireland.

Tim, who has worked in the industry for seven years previously managing outlets and working as area barista trainer for two major coffee chains, will be responsible for barista training with new and existing clients.

  • Another top award for Johnsons Coffee at the 2012 Great Taste Awards

Another top award for Johnsons Coffee at the 2012 Great Taste Awards


Lisburn based Coffee Roasters, Johnson Brothers have been won a Great Taste Gold Star award for their Kenyan blend at the 2012 Great Taste Awards.

The judges at the prestigious ‘Great Taste Awards’ in singling out Johnsons Coffee Kenyan blend from the extensive entry list of coffees entered, agreed that the that the Johnsons Coffee blend was a fine balanced coffee with acidity and sweetness  and recognised its distinct fruit undertones, the signature of a premium Kenya origin.

The Great Taste Awards are the largest and most trusted accreditation scheme for speciality and fine food & drink. Established in 1994, it encourages and mentors artisan food producers, offering a unique benchmarking and product evaluation service leading to an independent accreditation that enables small food and drink businesses to compete against supermarket premium own label brands.

Since 1994 over 60,000 products have been evaluated. This year alone, over 8,000 products

were blind–tasted by panels of specialists: top chefs, cookery writers, food critics, restaurateurs and fine food retailers.

Great Taste is the biggest independent benchmarking scheme for local, regional and speciality foods in Britain. Over 350 professional foodies are brought together each year to take part in 45 days of judging, deciding which foods deserve one–star, two–star or the ultimate three–star awards.

Judges this year included Masterchef winner and restaurateur Mat Follas, restaurant critic and Masterchef judge, Charles Campion, food writers Lucas Hollweg and Xanthe Clay and over 300 food buyers from leading food halls, delicatessens and farm shops including Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason.

According to Guild of Fine Food chairman, Bob Farrand, each of these food and drink products has undergone the most rigorous scrutiny. “ To achieve a 3–star grading involves at least 25 experts unanimously agreeing that the product tastes divine,” he commented. “ But to be included in the Top 50 Foods in Britain meant each one had to satisfy the discerning palates of a further 25 dedicated foodies. These products all deliver the most extraordinary taste.

Philip Mills, Group Sales and Marketing Director at Johnson Brothers is also Director of the Coffee division and a Master Barista himself commented, “ We pride ourselves at Johnson for selecting the finest coffee beans and then carefully roasting them at our own facilities in Lisburn. Our Kenyan blend is one of our oldest blends and has been central to our range for many decades.  We are delighted to have been recognised by such a distinguished panel of judges in advance of our centenary celebrations of local coffee roasting in 2013.”

Let’s start with some basics



We might as well start with some fundamentals. With apologies to any knowledgable coffee connoisseurs reading we thought it would be fair to level the playing field a little. So we’re going covering a few of the things every coffee lover should know.

Like the million dollar question: Why Arabica?

It’s always “arabica” isn’t it? If there’s one thing growers, buyers, roaster and sellers agree on it’s that the arabica bean is the best. While the robusta, well, without wanting to be rude about it, is not so good. 

It starts with roots

Like any fruit, quality and flavour originate from the ground; that’s as true for the coffee plant as any. Coffee was first cultivated in Western Asia and Africa; specifically Yemen, Ethiopia and southeastern Sudan. Over a thousand years ago it was the Arabians (hence “arabica”) who first thought to make a brew from roasted beans.

Nowadays the best coffee’s in the world come from Central America, from Costa Rica and Guatemala. What these regions have in common with their ancient counterparts is an equatorial location. With their subtropical, mountainous conditions, the coffee plant can flourish with a steady warm but not too fierce temperature. Not too hot, not too humid; plenty of rain and cool nights – that what Coffee Arabica loves. In return only the arabica delivers the most fragrant and intensely flavoured bean.

What about the robusta then? 

Why would anyone bother growing an inferior bean?

Growing arabica isn’t without its challenges. It’s a delicate plant to start; in 1975 a severe frost in Brazil had a devastating effect on crops and sent coffee prices through the roof. The Coffee Arabica doesn’t like extreme cold. Add to that labour costs that are as high as the conditions are precarious and mountainous and you can start to imagine why some might look for an easier way to make a living.

Robusta, on the other hand, is a hardier plant that grows well at sea level . So yields are much higher and because it’s grown in more convenient locations labour and transport costs are lower. Obviously that all means it’s cheaper. 

But we all know, you get what you pay for and the trade–off is flavour; the more convenient bean lacks any of the delicacy of the more celebrated bean. When it comes to quality andy flavour, it’s arabica every time.