From the ‘Cwt Coffi’ at the bottom of the garden to the old quarryman’s barracks in the small village of Nantlle nestled in the highest reaches of Dyffryn Nantlle, Poblado Coffee Roastery has enjoyed three years of rapid growth within a highly competitive industry. Coffee-lovers are a notoriously picky bunch, and Poblado blends have become so popular that proprietor Steffan Huws has been able to employ a member of staff in order to keep up with demand.
Arfon AM Siân Gwenllian, a coffee drinker herself, went to visit the artisan coffee roastery to learn how the business grew from a bottom-of-the-garden affair to a company with clients all over north-west Wales.
“One of the things that interested me particularly about Poblado was their ethical approach to trade,” said Siân Gwenllian. “Steffan Huws has spent time both living and travelling in some of the poorest coffee-producing countries and has taken the time to build sustainable partnerships with producers and suppliers that are mutually beneficial and that aim to give coffee farmers a decent return on their beans. Steffan’s attitude is that the popularity of specialist coffee blends should act as a way of lifting people out of poverty as well as providing coffee lovers with unique and high-quality flavours.”
Steffan Huws is very fond of his coffee-roasting location which boasts some of the best views in the area. The Nantlle valley is not an obvious choice for an industry that is often associated with town and city life, but beauty and atmosphere serve only to further inspire the small Poblado team.
“I was looking for the right home for Poblado when the business out-grew the shed in the bottom of my garden” said Steffan Huws. “I visited a few premises on industrial estates but felt that they didn’t really suit our brand. I got in touch with Antur Nantlle and that’s how we came to be at the old quarrymen’s barracks. It’s a lovely place to work and a nice place for people to come and visit. Things have got rapidly busier over the past year, which has enabled me to take on a member of staff. Sion works with me and does the barista training for the cafes we supply. What makes us a bit different to other coffee producers is that we roast our own coffee and deal only in speciality coffee, which gives a better flavour and gives the farmers better control over their prices than with coffee sold on the open market.
I think small businesses like ours are the future. There are lots of small food and drink businesses doing well in this area. It’s difficult to attract big employers to remote areas like these, but with the right support people can start their own sustainable businesses instead of relying on big companies coming in.”