When I first decided that I’d like to source and sell really good quality coffee I considered all of the usual brands, as you might expect. All of the branding and products were fantastically put together, but for me lacked some of the romance that I felt that a good coffee should bring, it was all just a little bit… over packaged, if you see what I mean. What I really wanted was a fabulous coffee supplier who was roasting and blending their own beans right here in Devon, or at least the West Country. A tall order, or latte, at the best of times and there was a point when I thought I was going to have to surrender and go for a ‘brand’.
Then I found Dave at Hawkins Coffee in Budleigh Salterton on the South Devon coast.
Thinking it might be too good to be true, and a lot of the time it is, let me tell you, I hot footed it down to meet Dave and sample some of his coffee to see whether it was possible to get everything that I wanted right here on my own door step. Right from the off I found the whole business ethos to be my cup of tea, well coffee anyway, with the principles of the business being all about great produce and service.
Interesting bloke as well, as with so many of the people I know that are producing artisan fayre in West Country, Dave’s from an entirely different background. His history lies in importing motor cars into Eastern Europe, which I guess is about as far as from roasting and blending coffee as you’re going to get.
Dave’s coffee merchant business is all about quality. They are Master Blenders with many years experience in the trade and only ever use 100% Arabica beans. Their business is relatively small, but they’re mighty and everything that they do is about first-hand experience, from the sourcing of the beans to the roasting and blending which is done in house. I asked Dave what he thought the difference was between Hawkins Coffee, which you may well not have heard of, and some of the big brands.
Simple answer ‘they want to sell themselves, I just want to sell coffee’.
If you ever want to know what drives the thinking behind The Deli Shack, well it’s that sort of philosophy.
They service bars, delis and restaurant all over the West Country, and pride themselves on their training and expertise which they liberally apply to every new customer. I know that for a fact as everything I know about really good coffee comes originally from them.
Now, I know that everybody talks about their service as a competitive advantage, but it’s not always easy to see exactly what someone’s really doing all that differently. Not so here I can assure you.
After a nice selection of coffees to taste and a look round their business I was asked what I needed from them to help me sell on through The Deli Shack. After some head scratching I thought it would be nice to have the packs carrying our own brand. No problem there at all and before I knew it I was selling my own branded coffee to a large group of customers who really do know their beans..
Just for your interest the best selling coffee through The Deli Shack is a strong blend of Columbian and rich roast Indian beans which I call The Flying Scotsman. Well, if you were a Glaswegian with your own coffee brand, what else could you call it?
I’m just one of many satisfied customers who benefit from some realcustomer service. Since buying the business 10 years ago Dave’s been able to grow his sales of premium coffee from five tonnes per annum to 45 tonnes. It’s another fabulous success story to add to the list and one I’m intensely proud of being part of. With all the doom and gloom that abounds at present I personally think it’s great to know that sometimes the simple pleasures in life can be worthwhile.
To my mind, and that of many of my customers, it’s the best coffee that I’ve ever tasted and I love the fact that the guys at Hawkins treat every bean with the true reverence that it deserves. If you fancy a handmade coffee give it a try, and to find out more about Hawkins Coffee just use this link.
If you want to have a look at the range we stock just go to Devon Coffee on our website and have a look. Dave assures me that he’s seen about every coffee bean picture using a hessian bag and copper scoop that there’s ever been, but never one using rocks on a beach. So maybe we’ve added a little something extra to the world… who knows.