Inside the work of Chimney Fire Coffee, a roastery near Dorking
PUBLISHED: 11:35 23 June 2020
From hands-on coffee experiences to perfect roasts, Chimney Fire Coffee has quickly built a reputation that’s far bigger than their intimate Dorking roastery. Tracy Carroll meets founder Dan Webber
This article was written prior to lockdown and all information should be checked before your visit
Having started its life in a small garden shed in Kingston, Chimney Fire Coffee’s quest to conquer the coffee world has since upgraded to a converted stable in the Surrey Hills at Ranmore Common.
Here you’ll find founder Dan Webber hosting experience days while roasting meticulously sourced beans with the team of head roaster, Elizabeth, and new roastery assistant, Lorena, who hails from an El Salvadoran coffee family and is a Q grader (basically a coffee sommelier).
But the idea of Chimney Fire Coffee started a world away from the towns, villages and coffee shops of Surrey. “I spent several years working in coffee and cocoa traceability before moving back to the UK from Ghana,” says Dan.
“I was fortunate enough to see how much work goes into producing a high-quality cup of coffee at the farms out there and so, when I set up Chimney Fire Coffee in 2016, I wanted this to be the main focus.”
They’ve achieved a lot in just a few years and their current coffees range from the chocolate, biscuit and blackberry espresso roast of their Peru to the jasmine, apricot and honey filter roast of their Ethiopia. There is, of course, a nod to home in their Ranmore signature espresso.
You’ll find their coffees in the likes of Primal Roost, Wags N Tales, Miss Polly Café, George Bakes, Coffee on the Corner and The Queen’s Head in Dorking.
Aside from their delicious coffees, the company was an early adopter of Airbnb style experience days. It’s a concept that remains important to Dan and the team, with guests being welcomed to the Ranmore roaster for cupping (tasting) sessions every weekend.
“Speciality coffee is still often seen as being fussy and niche, so we’re trying to change that perception,” says Dan.
“We make it more accessible through offering a range of coffees to suit different tastes and with our light-hearted ‘bean to cup’ coffee experiences.
“One of the most rewarding parts of working in coffee is seeing people’s reaction to different coffees and that moment they realise every coffee has a different flavour profile.”
Not content with becoming a go-to coffee brand for shops, pubs and restaurants, in 2018 Dan launched a crowdfunding campaign to turn another of his brainwaves into a reality.
“The Office Coffee Club is a subscription service that encourages anyone with an appreciation for coffee to team up with their office colleagues to enjoy better quality coffee throughout the working day,” Dan explains.
“The club also features elements such as group voting on coffees and access to experiences where we can come to the office or members can try the coffees at our roastery.”
Back at Chmney Fire Coffee HQ, Dan’s thoughts on the upcoming year have been brought into sharp focus by the numerous recent global environmental disasters.
“In our industry, the increasing demand for coffee can result in deforestation for a new crop, so it’s important that we are doing our bit by supporting several tree planting initiatives later this year,” he says.
They may be based in a cosy stable in the Surrey Hills, but Dan and Chimney Fire Coffee’s thoughts are always tuned towards the bigger picture.
About Local Food Britain
Chimney Fire Coffee is a member of Local Food Britain, a food and drink network that has brought together approved members from across Surrey and beyond.
From independent tearooms to bustling farm shops, small local producers, speciality and fine foods, you can eat, drink and breathe all things local by visiting locafoodbritain.com