By James Guard
on February 23, 2021


Serendipia, Oscar Omar Alonso from Finca Cual Bicilceta, Miriam Perez from Clave de Sol. There is a connection between then all, in that they are all part of the same Coop from La Paz in Honduras, COMSA: Cafe Organico Marcala. (Marcala being the town where the Coop HQ is based)

If you’ve been with us on our journey the last few years, you’ll be very familiar with the story of H&G and COMSA, in that they form a massive part of a our DNA as a roastery. More details of when we visited them and when they came to see us here and here

 From when we first met Suita Manuela Diaz Nolasco, and then her parents, auntie and then Uncle Rodolfo and Auntie Miriam, we are constantly inspired by the visionary and effective work COMSA do. 






The Coop is made up of over 1500 farmers, either using organic methods or transitioning. The range of flavours from the different producers always blows our mind. We taste at least 30 coffees each year from them, and they have such a brilliant variety of flavours, a real testament to the individual producers. Its tough to keep it to just two or three coffees!


 The Organic agriculture diploma they teach has been utilised all over Central America, making COMSA one of the worlds leading organic coffee coops. 

 They focus on simple but highly effective practices, such as a soil fertility programme in which soil samples from each farm are analysed in their lab, and farmers are then advised which organic fertilizers, minerals and nutrients their soil requires. 








I never thought Id find soil so fascinating! But the results of the transformation of the land when soil is made healthy after years of using chemical fertilizers is abundantly evident in the sheer quality and volume COMSA's farmers produce.

We even had a presentation of their fundamental concepts in our old roastery building, in the Greengate area just next to Mcr city centre 






They produce an enormous amount of consistently delicious coffee, organically grown. Talk about a triple threat!






As well as the organic teaching school, COMSA have been on a constant mission to reintroduce trees in and around coffee farms, driving agro forestry as one of the most effective ways of combatting climate change and improving coffee growing. We have recently signed up for their crowd-funder on Grow Ahead to contribute 100 trees a month to the progamme, its such a simple way of contributing to their work, if you'd like to learn more and even contribute, then you can do so HERE

 Being able to provide you excellent coffee from such a brilliant organic coop is a massive privilege. You can brew and enjoy their coffee, knowing you are supporting their work, making  those delicious coffees taste even sweeter!

Feel Good Coffee

By James Guard
on December 12, 2020

Kiera and Aimee wanted to create a Feel Good coffee blend, connecting with us as a Manchester coffee roastery with a like minded desire for connection and transparency. We love helping people feeling connected to their coffee,

So it was a brilliant opportunity to use two coffees we are particularly passionate about

Read more »

The Miriam Collection

By James Guard
on April 25, 2020

Miriam is one of the founders of the awesome COMSA coop in Marcala, Honduras. They have been teaching and demonstrating organic farming techniques for twenty years and now have over 1500 farmers farming organically or making the transition. All the organic fertiliser is produced by COMSA recycling waste produced in processing coffee and using natural microorganisms from the local area. Its a beautiful thing!

Read more »

Er, we closed our coffee shop!

By James Guard
on February 19, 2020

It seems when you're doing being a coffee business, blog writing ends up bottom of the pile. It is something we're going to address!

First thing, its been well over a year since we wrote anything and what a year! We moved into a new roastery and opened a shop. all on a shoe string budget, but with oodles of, well...heart and graft! 

The vision of the shop was to create a place to connect people with coffee and community, to make speciality coffee as approachable and accessible as we can for the good people of Manchester. To make that happen, we had some excellent coffee people...


It was a beautiful thing for a while, but to make business sense, we were going to have to start focusing on the food side of things, and ultimately, that was going to start pulling our focus away from being our central mission: Being a coffee roaster for Manchester and spreading the word that great speciality coffee is for everyone. 

We did see loads of this in the shop. People not used to having a range of coffees to try very quickly became used to identifying their favourite fruity, chocolatey or something in between type coffee. 


After hot drinks, our next biggest selling item was coffee beans, which is exactly what we wanted! Although to be fair, we could have done with about four times the amount selling, then we could have stayed open!

So it was a case of: Don’t be sad that’s it’s over, be glad that it happened. The shutters went down, and we relocated entirely to the Roastery. Its only ten minutes up the road from the shop, and anyone is welcome to come and buy beans from there. 

The Roastery





The roastery is wonderful. It came about because nearly one hundred yr old, third generation, family owned Martins Craft Bakery are as mental as we are. We'd met them at Cup North (Manchester Coffee Festival) around 2 and half years ago. We began working with them on a long term project to improve the coffee in their 24 shops, because better coffee is for everyone and they love working with local companies. 

Their bakery premises in Newton Heath sits within part of a 50,000 square foot old mill, parts of which have been thoroughly overhauled and house their rather

epic bakery operation. Damn fine parkin. We were having a tour one day and stuck our heads into this building...

which was basically a very useful place to store 100 years of bakery ideas and old equipment you miiiight just need again. 

Well one look at the beautiful beams and natural light...and an idea germinated. It was only a half thought over reach of an idea, but, what if we could base our roastery here? We had to move out of our old roastery as the building it was in  was being knocked down and redeveloped (Go Gentrification) about here?!

Well...third generation Martin, Neil, saw the vision and agreed it would be a goer. They know coffee is a big part of their future, the building wasnt paying them any rent, so why not? They worked with us in putting in the power and services we'd need, and even put in a glass walled room at the back we can use as our training room. Best Landlords Ever! 

Its not in the most salubrious area of Manchester, but its only 10 mins out of the city centre and the first whiff of hipster can be detected here and there in the area. Its easy to park though and it gives us plenty of room for events. So far we have hosted:

2 x UK Barista Championship Northern heats

1 x World Coffee Research presentation 

4 x Sage home espresso masterclasses


Around 35 training sessions for baristas and bar tenders !

So. We have moved the bar and equipment and plants from the shop into the roastery, and it looks mighty fine. 

We are going to have many more events and workshops and training sessions, and are putting finishing touches to a spangly new website you'll be able to book them through, and buy coffee from, naturally! 

A lot has been happening. The last year or so has felt more like learning painful but important things about being small business owners, rather than being coffee roasters. However, we're settling into our home and its going to be so good to just focus on the coffees, helping our lovely customers brew a delicious cup, and feel connected to this tribe of the coffee curious, who care about a coffees origins and trust us to help them navigate this magnificent and ever changing landscape of Speciality Coffee. 
















We've Opened a Coffee Shop!

By James Guard
on December 10, 2018

Come and see us!

Heart and Graft Coffee Shop

70 Yorkshire St, M3 5EG

Monday-Friday 0730-1530


As coffee roastery, we wanted a place where you can come and try our coffees, and understand why we choose the ones we do. We're really proud of the beans that we roast and now you can come and taste and buy our whole range in the shop, along with brewing equipment and very helpful advice and brewing tips from Ashleigh and Josh, our ace baristas who are very good at listening and understanding what beans you need or the best bit of kit for you to brew great coffee at home.

We also have our lovely and cosy plant bedecked coffee shop to sit and work in, meet or while away some time with a delicious brew. We do unlimited sourdough toast for £3.50, along with some proper hearty sandwiches, and loads of locally baked cakes!

Coffee shops have been places in which some fantastic discussions, societies, movements and even revolutions have started...liquid networks of lightbulb moments, sparked by coffee, fuelled by caffeine and sustained by the power of people in community. This is our place to join in that great tradition!

Look out for: 

  • Workshops on how to brew better coffee at home
  • Themed tasting evenings
  •  Discussions on sustainability, coffee farming and the coffee trade

More details on those soon...see you for a brew and some parkin!








By James Guard
on June 28, 2017

Courage is different things. One thing it is is not accepting ‘well, that’s just the way things are’. The unbearable itch that forms the forward momentum of wanting to take steps to change something that is unacceptable. That always moves me, when people who have every reason to give up, just don’t.

Those who take that turn away from accepting defeat and then take steps toward a different option. The courage to choose that despite what everyone else sees, you see something better. That courage to see something better, to break the inertia of accepting defeat, opens the way for something to change. To be better.

 It was this vision and courage that led a group of coffee farmers to turn and move away from a stagnant commercial coffee market in Honduras, that saw farmers receiving little return for their work. COMSA had a vision, for a community that looked after each other, the earth that produces their coffee, and the children that that are the next generation of coffee famers. Being a Fairtrade co-op meant the price they received for the coffee was stable, and rather than that being an end itself, this stability provided a platform to build infrastructure geared up to producing fantastic coffee.

Central and foundational to COMSA’s (Café Organico Marcala S.A) vision is the use of organic practices that do no harm, and in fact feed the land from which all the coffee is grown, a revolutionary use of organic methods and processing that simultaneously blesses the earth, preserves water, creates masses of bio diversity, and encourages the growth of some darn fine coffee!

We’ve developed a freakishly serendipitous relationship with COMSA, from being found by Suita, offered some samples, loving the coffee, buying some, going on a somewhat impromptu visit to Honduras, and then being blown away by the sheer quality and scale of the coffee growing and processing, and now buying some more for this year, including a couple of stunning micro lots!

Those Micro-lots are from David Chavez, and Miriam Perez, two of the original rebel alliance that took up the gauntlet of intensive organic farming, and focusing on growing sensatioanlly tasty coffee.

Soooo…here’s the really exciting bit! Rodolfo Penalba, the GM and co-founder of COMSA, David Chavez a farmer who's also the president of the COMSA’s board a pioneer and passionate educator, our mate, and organisational legend Suita, and the people who run the COMSA school, are visiting Manchester from the 11th-14th July!

Now, this would be exciting in its own right, but as it happens, (and this is another Serendipty momement…) one of the coffees we chose in our blind cupping was a beautiful washed coffee from Don David Chavez, and we also chose a natural from Miriam Perez, a funky stunner from an awesome woman, who also happens to be Rodolfo’s wife!

Sooooo come join the family, cup their coffees with them and absorb some of that deep coffee farming knowledge!

11th July 7pm

At Rise at the back of Grindsmiths Deansgate:  We are going to have an evening of panel discussion around the issue of sustainability in coffee trade, with COMSA, Fairtrade and couple of respected peeps from the speciality coffee trade. This will be free, but we’ll do an event brite for it, as numbers will be limited! The panel will be Rodolfo, Howard Barwick (Head Buyer Bewleys UK/Grumpy Mule), Holly Bowman (from Northstar Coffee in Leeds)

And we'll have someone from Fair Tade there too.

With provenance and origin story being so important to Speciality Coffee...its a chance to really dig into this idea of fair 'ethical' 'direct' trade of coffee, and what this actually means to the farmers, hearing from the farmers themselves!


13th July 6pm-10pm:

We are having a cupping event with difference at the roastery, the main difference being the farmers will be there! We are going to set up all sorts of interactive stuff so we can really dig into the elements that influence how coffee is grown and processed and how this is fundamental to its character and flavour. We’ll also be brewing and pulling shots…well, you will!

The cupping will be structured, and there will be a talk about COMSAs organic vision and how this contributes to flavour. However, we also want to leave lots of time for you to just hang out and socialise, brew their coffee with them and chat to some awesome coffee brains, and ask all those questions you’ve always wanted to ask coffee farmers about!

This event will be ticketed £10 each, and will include a bag of coffee. All the proceeds will go towards Team COMSA’s travel costs. We’ll send out the Event Brite for it very soon.





Heart and Graft go to COMSA

By James Guard
on April 11, 2017

The story of how we met Suita Manuela Diaz Nolasco (she picks which bits of that name she uses on any given day!) Is on the Web shop page for Honduras Serendipia which also explains why its called that!

Suita Manuela Diaz Nolasco. Honduras Coffee Brain.Suffice it to say that this young woman has great vision for how speciailty coffee can benefit the lives of coffee farmers all over Honduras. Her family is involved all sorts of aspects of coffee production in different parts of the country, with her uncle Radolfo Penalba (in the main pic for this post) responsible for starting the COMSA co-op that we visited in Marcala, in La Paz, in the South West of the country.

His vision for excellence and organic coffee production is a huge inspiration and is something Suita would like to see taken up by other coffee farmers and co-ops around the country.


Our path towards the trip started when Suita visited the roastery, gave us some COMSA coffee to try, which we just loved. We found a way of shipping some over. So far so good! But how did we end up having our minds blow in Honduras? Well now...there's a story...

Whilst Suita was over here studying, her parents and auntie came to vist, so we thought it would be rude if we didnt give a chance for people to meet them, so we organised an impromptu 'meet the farmer' event at Grindsmiths.


It was an excellent event, and after some initial nerves, the family warmed up and gave a brilliant insight into the dedicated work and persistence of vision that this family have displayed for 30 years or so.



It was actually quite an emotional event, with a deep connection felt between passionate coffee people from both ends of the chain. The family said that we should come visit Honduras, so how on earth could we refuse? It was a brilliant chance for a few mancs to land themselves in the middle of a coffee dream world and walk the farms and processing mills where all the flavour comes from.

Santa Barbara

26 hours of flights later, Suita picked us up at the airport and we drove five hours south to Santa Barbara, to stay a night with her auntie and family. We arrived at dusk to be welcomed with a barbecue, beers, and a little tour of the beneficio...the family mill where coffee cherries are washed and dried.

There was such a welcoming atmosphere, and to be put up for the night in the family home in the middle of a beautiful coffee farm was such a privilige. It didnt feel like a tour. It felt strangely like home, because we all care about and make our livings from coffee.

 COMSA, Marcala.

The next day we walked the farm, I inherited a hat, we said our goodbyes and jumped in the 4x4 to drive down to Marcala....


We arrived at night and woke up to a stunning vista.


 Fortaleza is the organic farm that COMSA run, the base for all their education and where the amazing lodge for visitors is. You wake up at six in the morning...(we're not going to talk about cockerals...just leave it) and its warm and its beautiful and you have 3 days of fully immersive coffee ahead!



The simple premise of COMSA is based on the idea of Finca Humana...which when translated as Human Farm sounds a bit like a B horror movie, but the idea is, put good stuff in, and you get good stuff out:






"Work on the plots, begins with the selection of seeds, seed care, nursery, planting, etc .; In this sense, human farming starts with children, is where working with partners COMSA and community focus. The children are the true allies for the future, for that reason should feed your brain with important information, with healthy practices, sports, music, science, art, agriculture, love, respect, self-esteem."

Radolpho Penalba, COMSA general manager.




We met so many awesome and inspiring people! Like this guy! Oscar Omar Alonzo. When he originally took up the gauntlet to move from conventional to organic speciality coffee, it was a very hard time for Oscar. His yield dropped and the new organically grown crops took a few years to become fruitful. He told us that he was in a particularly dark place, but then, he had a vision of bicycle. You must keep going forward, keep everything in balance...then you will be succesful.



He actually has a tandem that becomes a real life ride on metaphor for working together and keeping everything in balance! And of course, he has named his farm Finca Cual Bicicleta...Like a Bicycle!




He's an amazing man, and loved meeting Kieron who was with us! Mr. Carney, a humble dude who works his ass off training for Baxter Storey, and has placed in the top 10 in the UKBCs for the last two years, who Oscar insisted having his picture taken with. Mutual respect for people who have a passion for beautiful coffee!





Cafe Organico Marcala has over a thousand producers, all producing organic coffee and the co-op mill has exceedingly high standards on the quality of the cherry that is accepted into the massive wet mill opreation. Some producers also have micro lots that are either dried on the producers farm, or centrally at the mill.



The farmers will all produce both good quality cherry that is processed centally and combined into complete lots







And also micro-lots that are either dried on the producers own farm, or centrally.




There is a strong focus on education, and there are some genius methods employed to see organic processes used from seed to harvest to processing and even using the cleaning solution used for the machinary at the mill!


This is Don Roberto, general manager of the wet mill, who was very proud and passionate about how they combine live micro-organisms with the water residue from the washing process, let it ferment, then it can be used as a highly effective cleaning agent! We ate a little to prove the point that the solvent is so safe, you can eat it! Safe....but doesn't taste all that amazing!


Organic Vision!

The organic production means that the land the COMSA members grow on is incredibly well looked after and nourished...I've never been so enthused about soil! But a session with the agronomist responsible for the production of the fertiliser used at the co-op sorted that right out!


The short version is, traditional mass produced fertilizers kill the soil, dead earth requires more chemicals pumped into it to produce anything, but whatever grow will be dull and lifeless, because the soil is dead. No minerals, no flavour. 






 So COMSA produce an incredibly rich fertiliser that recycles coffee pulp, the water that is kept from the washing station, instead of draining into the land, ground up rocks and micro organisms from the forests around the co-op, and other organic matter. Its put into sealed barrels to ferment, and brews into life giving soil enriching goodness!



The result of all this, is a co-op where everything is built on well nourished hearts, minds and soil! The natural bio diversity and thriving flauna and fauna mean a wealth of happy insects cross pollinating all over the place, contributing to flavour developement in ways that blew my mind!









The co-op continually re-invests in infrastucture that improves the quality of their processing, like this astonishing bank of raised beds for the controlled drying of tasty tasty microlots....






 And a beautiful polytunnel of immaculatly processed natural coffee. And believe me..."beautiful polytunnel" is never a phrase I would ever have envisaged using...but it was.





At the end of the day, all this only matters to us as a roastery if we find something magical in the cup. And to be fair, it was no surprise whatsoever that the tables of coffees we tried when we were there revealed some absolute stunners!

The quality control at COMSA is rigorous, and we were excited to see what lots were going to be possible for us to buy. We're only little, so its not like we can wave a hand and take the lot...but there was sooo many goodies! The range of flavours and cup profiles on the table was astonishing! Kid in a candy store vibes...I brought back about 30 samples to try with Sean at the roastery...




I like this picture cos it was when Sean, who's been a licensed Q-grader for over 6 years, slurped and reslurped and slurped again...and one particular micro-lot drew a fair number of expletives that are probably not suitable for descriptors to go on labels. It goes down as one of the most complete Central American coffees we've ever tried!



The four of us had the most inspiring, thought provoking and for me, really quite moving time. There is such a deep connection between the way the community at COMSA look after each other, the earth and their coffee, it's all interdependent, in a holistic way the depth of which blew me away.








We've bought three different coffees from COMSA that arrive in few weeks, and we're gonna have a party when they do! You're all invited!







Getting into Acidity...

By James Guard
on April 30, 2016

Sean set up a really great little workshop at the roastery...I love learning new stuff! Drawing on his CQI Q grader training, he set out tasting samples of Citric, Malic, Lactic and Tartaric acid.

We had 3 different levels of citric acid to taste, from relatively pleasant to lemon suckingly sour! Then there were the four different solutions to slurp, then we mixed some low acidity Brazil in with a few of the different acids, and had to pair them up...reallly hard!

For me it was fascinating to slurp on the different acids, then find taste memories of various coffees and origins come flooding back! For example, the malic acid, tasted of sour green apples, then a sense memory coming through of tasting coffees from El Salvador or Nicaragua. The sharp citric acidity of course brought to mind lemons, and that sort of clean lemon taste Ive found with some great Kenyan coffees. Tartaric was tricky and the dryness of it was hard to pin to a coffee, but the cranberry/rasberry quality finally dug its way through my brain to remind me of Guatemalan!

The really interesting one was the lactic acid, which seemed very flat compared to the others, but Sean mentioned it in reference to a good Brazilian...and then it made sense! There was much more of a texture, a mouthfeel to the lactic acid, which did have sense of coating the roof of the mouth, like a yummy buttery Brazilain, or other coffee with pronounced viscosity...

Anyhoo...just a few refections on a really interesting exercise, and one I am sure we shall be running more of!



It's been a heck of a year...

By James Guard
on February 01, 2016

It was a while since the last blog post. 2015 kind of took off on a trajectory we couldn't predict, we sourced, roasted and packed a lot of coffee.


As well as growing as a roastery we also learnt a lot. We've both been around coffee a while so know a few things, we also don't know a lot. Every week should be a journey of learning and development. Development is an interesting thing to us roasters. To us it would be finding the newest, most complex or unique coffees.


One thing that has consistently come up in the past year has been the need for stability and consistency. Countless businesses we work with want great coffee, that's a given when working with speciality roasters. More and more we see people needing  super reliable delicious espresso.


It almost seems counter intuitive to us but constant boundary pushing and flavour development isn't always the most important. Sometimes it is being able to deliver an awesome product week in week out.


Of course we will always push boundaries and try to stretch our abilities as roasters, it's why we do what we do. But we will also always be dedicated to delivering the specific flavour profiles you love, week in week out

A city style and the upward trend

By Sean Fowler
on October 07, 2015

Back in June I wrote a small blog post about the growth of Manchester, obviously focusing on coffee. 4 months on and it has become even more pronounced in my mind of a real shift in the quality and care going into sourcing better coffee by many places that would a year ago have served the cheapest possible beans. 

Business at Heart and Graft is much the same. We are still sourcing coffees that we love, roasting them well and delivering them to our lovely customer base. Business is growing alongside the cities growth and life is good. 

My thoughts have gone onto Manchester's style of coffee. The general trend is upward; moving upward to serve better coffee, more care in training baristas and generally an attitude to coffee that is more considered. 

Will Manchester be swept up along in the general trend of speciality coffee across the UK or will it forge it's own path in the coffee world?

I have no idea, although if history is anything to go by Manchester is used to forging it's own path.


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