MEET THE LOT PARTICIPANTS: Producer Martin Rowland and Roaster Dan Todd

CQI’s newest Learning Online Together (LOT) program is designed to create business relationships with roasters and producers, using post-harvest processing techniques to focus on specialty coffee and quality improvements. CQI selected six coffee producer-roaster business partnerships for this project. Today Martin Rowland, producer at Agri Evolve in Uganda, and Dan Todd at Machina Coffee in Edinburgh, tell us about their experiences in the coffee industry, their goals, and some challenges they face as roasters and producers.

Martin Rowland 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience in the coffee industry?

I have been in the coffee industry for 6 years starting from when my son Jonny and I established Agri Evolve to work alongside coffee farmers in the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda. I had first worked in the Rwenzoris when I went there in 1987 for a 4 year contract as an Agricultural Extension Officer. Jonny also studied Agriculture at university and then visited Uganda in 2014 and decided to stay!

My main role is finding customers in the UK, and I have really enjoyed traveling to meet with coffee roasters. In general they have been very surprised by the good quality arabica coffee that the farmers are producing. It is great to be able to promote Uganda and the Rwenzoris in particular as an origin of great speciality coffee.

What are you most looking forward to learning?

We are looking forward to learning more about the range of different processing methods so we can produce coffees with different characteristics and flavour profiles.

What are some challenges you are facing?

The challenge we face is working with thousands of smallholder farmers and ensuring they all follow the same high quality standards required to produce an excellent coffee. Our team of Field Officers provide training and support to give the farmers the knowledge they require, but we also need to gain further knowledge to share with the farmers.

Dan Todd

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience in the coffee industry?

I am the resident head roaster here at Machina Coffee in Edinburgh. I've been fully involved in the world of coffee for the last 4 years, beginning as a barista in one of our town cafes, joining the roastery team as a packer and moving on to managing coffee for the business. At every stage I have made an attempt to learn as much as I can. From organising regular cuppings for staff and the public to voletering as an assistant at Barista Camp Europe in Portugal. I find coffee to be fully captivating, engaging me in ways I could never have predicted. I Love the chemistry behind the farming, processing and roasting, the logistics & spreadsheets involved in moving and storing coffee, and the public element of design and how to effectively communicate a product to a customer so that they can receive not only a great experience but the experience they expected.

What are you most looking forward to learning?

I'm looking forward to being able to engage more thoughtfully with our partners at Argi Evolve and to achieve a more thorough understanding of the different processing methods available to farmers and how that can impact the way we choose coffee here in the roastery.

What are some challenges you are facing?

Our current largest challenge in the business is continuing to grow while putting more emphasis on sustainable practices. managing waste produced in the roastery. Finding appropriate end-of-life procedures for coffee sacks and grain-pro bags. and redesigning our packaging to be fully recyclable by the end user with no extra work. On the other side of the coin, as we grow we're looking to create more long term-relationships with exporters, mills and farms. As we increase the volumes of coffee we purchase we can have a larger and more focused impact on the farms we support.