Fiona, Founder of Glen Lyon Coffee Roasters

Glen Lyon Coffee Roasters: Cultivating Ethical Coffee Excellence

Welcome to the Love Your Local Larder Podcast! A podcast that celebrates local produce with the people who cook and grow it.

Blog written by Louise McKie.

In this podcast, we meet Fiona Grant of Glen Lyon Coffee Roasters, a wonderfully ethical B Corp that began in our own Scottish Highlands. Glen Lyon are now based in Aberfeldy, although their roots in every sense hark to the lands that made them.

Glen Lyon Coffee Roaster's Sign

Fiona and her husband first established Glen Lyon Coffee Roasters in 2011 after becoming passionate about coffee through their work and travel as journalists in Latin America. This gifted them with an insight into the coffee trade that left a lasting impact. Indeed, the quality and sustainability of the lives of coffee farmers in the region has become a key priority in the business, head to their website to hear more about their unique partnership with one Brazilian coffee farming family.

Coffee Roasting

During their travels on the West Coast of the United States, the couple discovered lots of micro-roasteries. This planted the seed of the idea to try creating their own roastery on their return to Scotland. Fiona tells Suzie about the initial roasting journey and the trial and error required to find a good flavour. They share experiences of touring farmers’ markets as fledgling entrepreneurs and how this helped build a loyal customer base as well as informed the development of the brand.

Listen to the podcast here... 

Glen Lyon’s first pallet was of mixed origin and included green coffee from Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Rwanda. This was roasted in a small second-hand roaster Fiona found on eBay. Finding a roast profile is, in itself, a full sensory experience; listening for the seeds cracking like popcorn, looking for the seeds to change colour to a deep yellow, and smelling the seeds roast. Suzie, concludes that, for her, the whole sensory process was immersive and one of the most striking aspects of her visit. These days, Glen Lyon use software to reproduce the roast profiles of their core products: Red Stag Espresso, West Coast Roast and True North. They also include featured roasts from specific regions, such as the Columbian Andino.

Glen Lyon Coffee Roaster Products

Fiona explains how coffee goes from plant to beverage. We learn that green coffee is actually the seeds that come from the ‘coffee cherry’ that is harvested from a shrub-like tree. The green coffee is then carefully packaged to avoid it absorbing other flavours, and is shipped to roasteries around the world. With Suzie, she discusses the differences between artisan roasteries and mass-produced coffee and describes how the skill of the coffee farmer in picking, processing and washing the seeds can all impact on the freshness of the green coffee. Similarly, the way the coffee is ground can enhance the quality of the roast by using a burr grinder.

Coffee Beans & Coffee Art

In the tasting segment, Suzie experiences the initial roasting of coffee seeds from Peru, Brazil and Uganda that make up the Stag Espresso; a blend that is fruity, chocolatey and includes caramel notes. During this, Fiona talks about which coffees suit different drinks: heavier roasts are suited to espressos and milky coffees such as lattes as the milk needs body to infuse it. Lighter roasts are better for filter coffees.

Glen Lyon Coffee

The blending and packing of the beans are described as ‘hypnotic’ and Suzie loved the sound of them pouring from the roaster in to the bucket! She then meets Elsie, one of the Glen Lyon staff and we get another sense of how important people are to the company. Elsie uses the freshly roasted beans to make Suzie a latte, during which Fiona educates us on the stages of this process and the sweet spot for steaming milk to make the perfect latte. The result is one that Suzie is effusive about! Elsie’s latte art is the first thing that grabs her attention before she is hit by the coffee’s beautifully aromatic scents. She identifies notes of strawberry, chocolate and caramel before tasting what she describes as a delicious, prefect-temperature coffee.

Glen Lyon Coffee Roasters Cafe

The whole process illustrates the high standard to which this B Corp company is held and is further enhanced by Fiona’s description of Glen Lyon’s ‘Coffee Academy’ and tree planting commitment. All in all, this is a whistlestop tour of a wonderfully ethical Scottish company, with sensory descriptions that will leave you gasping for a good coffee and putting their Aberfeldy café on your list of places to visit. If you would like to find out more about Glen Lyon Coffee Roasters then head to their website here.

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