High Road Espresso

By Sean Fowler
on July 22, 2015

When we launched in February we had an already established blend in Barnraiser that worked it's magic and had done for as long as James had been roasting it. The heavy chocolate led flavours we get out of this blend needed a partner in crime, something brighter and lighter to offer our customers and prospective customers.

We came up with what we initially called Heart & Graft Espresso. A blend that had caramel sweet notes with a good deal of brighter citric acidity. This worked for us for a while but there seemed to be a nagging feeling that we needed to change and evolve again fairly quickly.

James and I soon came to the realisation that we both wanted to do the same thing. We wanted to use what we called "Heart & Graft Espresso" as a testing ground and playground to get experimental with coffee.

And thus High Road Espresso has been born. This coffee is all about harnessing everything that is beautiful in coffee. Our brief is fairly broad taste wise. It must be sweet, clean in the finish and be bright in it's acidity. Other than that anything goes! From month to month the flavour profile will change slightly around this broader profile, showcasing the depth and breadth of flavours the coffee world has to offer.

Typically it will be whatever single origin we cup at HQ and like the best. Or maybe it will be a particular blend that we like. Who knows, all we know is that it will always be taking advantage of using the best ingredients the seasons have to offer. We hope you enjoy the ride!! 


By Sean Fowler
on June 01, 2015

I'm sat writing this early in the morning. I can see a slice of the city through the window of my kitchen/living room. There are lots and lots of cranes hovering over new and half constructed building sites. The city is growing every day.

With it is the need for, not just more but better coffee. It's changed since I started coming to Manchester about 7 or 8 years ago. A handful of places back then doing what we love doing really well, getting amazing coffee to more people.

Now more and more people want to learn, have a need to know more about the beans they brew and why they taste great compared to the other stuff they used to buy.

It's exciting to be into a project 6 months and see a noticeable shift in the way people approach the product you work so hard on.

Good work Manchester, we'll be looking forward to seeing what's in store for the next few years

From where we start...

By James Guard
on May 21, 2015

I started roasting coffee in my garage about three years ago and worked as a barista at Coffee Fix at the same time. Working with Gareth and Claira was such an important learning time for me…the coffee alumini of Manchester people who have benefitted from working there is pretty darn impressive. Meanwhile they keep on truckin making kiddies milkshakes and awesome beans on toast as well as exceptional coffee, cos that’s how they roll!
I worked hard on my espresso blend, Barnraiser finding a caramel and chocolate style espresso cos I wanted to provide something that would be a rich satisfying spro, but also make a yummy moreish milk drink. It’s the coffee I was carrying when I was trawling around West Didsbury trying to get someone to try coffee. I walked past Greens and saw that Simon Rimmer fella off the TV sitting quietly doing some work whilst the restaurant was shut, er so I disturbed him by knocking on the window and saying (well, mimed the words) “Im a coffee roaster” !! He kinda took pity on me and came to the door, opened it ever so slightly whilst staying safely behind it, and gave me a chance to talk to him about what I wanted to do. I’ve been supplying there ever since and they’re ace.
Then there was the time this bloke called Luke who ran a coffee van outside the Trafford Centre got hold of me wanting to try some coffee. Luke had about 15 different bags of coffee from roasters all over the place, including a few from America. He also had developed a dosing technique that included holding the portafilter at the perfect angle for the wind to blow the grinds into it…knew I like him from that point! Another fella called Pete started working with him occasionally and a couple of years Grindsmiths was born and I still get to work with them, and its awesome to see them go from strength to strength.
About this time last year I started looking for somewhere to move out to. I did love roasting in my coffee loveshack at the end of the garden but needed more space and wanted to be able to have people visit in a more fit for purpose sort of environment. I ended up looking round an old lightbulb factory in Greengate on the Salford/Manchester border that some artists had taken over and were turing into studio spaces. I loved the feel inside the building and felt like the sort of space you could use your imagination and build stuff, so I spent the summer working with a few people begging borrowing and bartering for time and materials, and spending all the money I had and some I didn’t on the most awesome coffee roaster I could buy. As a coffee roaster, it’ll be the basis of the business for years to come, so it was worth betting the farm on and being creative with everything else!
The name Heart and Graft just sort of came to me when I was trying to think of a way of creating an umbrella name for me as a roaster working with Jay Matthews from Uno Espresso as a service partner. It was just two words that sum up my experience of working in coffee and also the soul of this extraordinary city.
I talked James Walker who has developed the Coffee Circle design over the last few years…and before I knew what was happening, It was alive and running as a brand idea! It was all on a hunch! Then I met Sean Fowler, a proper coffee pro he was the youngest Q grader in the country until he trained his own replacement at roast giants Lincoln and York. Sean was moving to Manchester and wanted to keep working in coffee and build his own thing. We had a few chats and came to realise we pretty much shared the same vision. So as it turns out, Heart and Graft is his as well. The guy has a big heart, daft sense of humour a phenomenal palate and loads of experience and nouse for his age! He has a different roast style to me as well, looking for those bright sweet flavours which is brilliant cos I lean more to the more deep chocolate style. This is being best demonstrated in our espresso. We maintain Barnraiser as the more traditional deep chocolate notes thru milk style, and our as yet unnamed “Heart and Graft Espresso” is lighter, more fruit sweet driven.
I still love the daft theatrical names and the Baz Luhrmann black and gold designs of Coffee Circle, and so it will all stay as a side project...just another one of the things we do out of Heart and Graft. If you find it confusing, believe me so do I sometimes! Sorry and bear with us and itll all make sense at somepoint. Whether Heart and Graft or Coffee Cirlce, its all me n Sean looking for fabulous flavours and sharing the coffee love!

Another Manchester coffee friend and Cup North founder Hannah Davies suggested a latte art throw down a couple of weeks ago, so we cooked up a big paella, had a load of beers and did a sort of Fight Club does Latte Art style event. Very informal, which is how we want all future events to be. Approachable, fun, inclusive open to baristas, enthuisasts and the coffee curious. It’s a community thing!
So we’ll see what we end up building. It’ll involve yummy coffee, looking after customers and Manchester!

First Post

By Sean Fowler
on April 23, 2015

We're here!

In what has been a whirlwind start to the year we have now got the website up and running for you all to enjoy. There will be all the latest blog updates from us, news of upcoming events and the web shop for all our newest arrivals and old favourites.

So stay tuned and check in regularly! If you find yourself in Manchester give us a heads up and come along to hang out at the roastery.


James & Sean

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