A conversation with Nick Flavin of Drury Tea & Coffee Ireland in Youghal, Ireland
Since 2013 Drury Tea & Coffee Ireland has been a supplier of roasted coffees primarily to Ireland’s second most populous city, Cork. Not only will you see their coffees in local restaurants and cafés, you will also see their products dispersed in homes throughout all of Ireland. When Drury Tea and Coffee Ireland started out, they were importing their coffees from a sister company in London. Today, their coffee roasting is done in house under the roast master/owner Nick Flavin. We recently had an opportunity to speak with Nick of Drury Tea and Coffee Ireland and gained some insight on his trials and tribulations starting and maintaining his coffee roastery. Below you will find the transcript of a “questions and answers session” Nick was graciously willing to participate in with us.
Q: How did you get into the coffee business? What attracted you to it?
A: I was thinking about starting to work in construction. At the same time, the local quality of coffee had been diminishing and I wanted to have a better coffee in the morning, so I started roasting my own. I roasted coffee for myself for 6 to 8 months, and then I started selling it. It started as a fun hobby and grew. At first, I had a small 500 gram home roaster and then needed something larger.
Q: What is the thing that you are most proud of in your business?
A: We sponsor things in our community and take part in events, but we do not add our logo or speak about them publicly. Being charitable should not be advertising, so we avoid being visually associated. However, being in an able position and taking part makes us most proud.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the location of your business?
A: We are in a small town, around 10,000 people. A lot of construction workers live in Youghal, it’s kind of a suburb of Cork. I grew up here, I moved to a larger city for a period of time before moving back and starting the coffee business.
Q: What is one thing you would have done different if you were starting over again?
A: (Nick started laughing) I would have started roasting with an afterburner immediately. We are in a smaller area and we do have neighbors. They are kind and the odor is not a bad smell, but all day every day can get old. We also like all our neighbors and wanted to take care of this issue quickly. If we had started with an afterburner initially, we would not have had to rebuild the chimney to accommodate the afterburner after the infrastructure was already completed.
Q: Can you share some useful tips for startups, based on your experience?
A: Be persistent. There will be good times and bad in the beginning. After the first few years, things will get easier and in the long term all the hard work is worth it.
Q: What is the biggest challenge currently at the coffee roastery?
A: At the moment, it is price fluctuation. Raw coffee, electrical costs, insurance costs, materials we use to pack and distribute, cost of shipping our products, prices are moving around a lot lately and it is challenging to estimate what future costs will be. We like to stay consistent and lately that is a challenge due to many things contributing to logistics issues.
Q: What is the newest thing you have discovered or newest obsession regarding coffee?
A: We have gotten more into visiting coffee farms and paying closer attention to their crops. Coffee farmers are getting more advanced and are able to grow really good coffees now. It’s important to meet the farmers and speak with them about their crops and listen to what they are telling you. The farmers usually know what they are talking about, it’s good to trust them. When you work with a specific farmer for a period of time and build a relationship with them it makes it easier to trust their abilities and advice. We are happy with the farmers we work with, they grow great coffee and share information with us about the different harvests.
Q: How did you hear about Coffee-Tech Engineering?
A: I started researching roasters online and ran across Coffee-Tech Engineering. That was how I initially learned about the company.
Q: What were the considerations you made prior to choosing a commercial coffee roaster?
A: I wanted something that was easy to work with and when the time came for service, a coffee roaster that would be easy to work on. I also wanted to work with a company that would quickly provide assistance should I need it. We also wanted to be as environmentally friendly as possible and still have a roaster with all the technology we needed.
Q: What was the key factors in Choosing the Ghibli R30?
A: Coffee-Tech Engineering was a transparent company and easy to speak with. I researched different commercial coffee roasters for over a year prior to choosing the Ghibli R30. Being able to control everything about your roast is a huge benefit. The Ghibli R30 was well built and energy efficient, we liked that roaster the most.
Q: Do you have any other advice for people starting a roastery?
A: Play around with a lab roaster and experiment before going big. Spend a lot of time practicing and learning how to roast different origins and blends, then choose a larger roaster to work with. Roast good coffee before trying to sell it.
In less than a decade, Nick has established a very lean and efficient coffee roastery. Happy customers make it easier to maintain business relationships as well as sales channels for their products. A quality gap in his local market caused a coffee lover to branch from an independent home roaster into a flourishing commercial roaster that provides a countrywide available product.
Time, dedication, practice and experimentation seems to be an underlying theme when it comes to successful coffee roasteries. In the field of coffee you will see plenty of competition with plenty of options. To be successful in coffee, customers have to value your product more than the others. Sales channels, distribution, advertising, it is all built around the fundamentals of consistently roasting delicious coffees.
Thank you Nick Flavin for your assistance
Chris Nance / Moshav Mazliach / October 31, 2022