Meet the producer: Voyager Coffee
The team at South West coffee roasters Voyager Coffee are on a mission to make the best espresso in Britain while knocking single-use plastics out of the nation’s coffee industry. FFD spoke to Voyager’s Tobias Taylor.
What were you doing before you started Voyager Coffee?
Andrew, our founder had been doing everything he could to raise the standard of coffee in the South West. For over 10 years, he ran barista training, installed espresso machines, and did everything he could to create a better coffee scene here in the South West.
Why did you decide to launch the brand?
Voyager was born out of a desire to be able to enjoy great coffee everywhere. When we say everywhere, we mean it – quaint Cornish coves, miles down National Park trails, and in the middle of Dartmoor. We’ve always felt that great coffee isn’t just an enjoyable pastime but it inspires productivity and creativity.
What makes Voyager stand out against the other coffee roasters in the UK?
For some time now, the consistent awards have attested to our head roaster Rachael’s attention to detail when it comes to sourcing and roasting. This culminated in winning 50% of the highest Great Taste awards for espresso last year. However, what truly sets Voyager apart is that the whole team comes to work driven by a desire to eradicate single-use plastic packaging in our industry.
Could you explain your decision to use biodegradable and recyclable packaging?
The Voyager roastery sits just on the edge of Dartmoor National Park and it would be an understatement to say that the team loves the location in which they work. We love living in such a beautiful part of the world. However, like the rest of the world, we were beginning to see the devastation caused by single-use plastics and realised finding a solution was a necessity.
We had to do a lot of research to make sure we chose the right packaging. What we use is 100% compostable, uses less energy to produce, and once composted improves the soil to grow more plants. It’s key to understand the difference between a compostable product and a degradable product. The latter is usually a form of plastic that breaks down into small pieces of plastic whereas something compostable is 100% made from plants.
How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected you and the business and how are you coping with the effects?
We work with some incredible businesses across the UK and unfortunately, most of them have had to close temporarily. However, we’re still working with some passionate and highly-adaptable zero-waste shops, delicatessens, and farm shops.
What has been the worst aspect of the COVID-19 crisis?
Seeing ground lost on sustainability, with some businesses moving back towards single-use items because there’s no time or resources to find sustainable alternatives.
… and have you seen any positives in the crisis?
We’ve seen a rise in orders for coffee to enjoy at home and it’s awesome to see so many people engaged with the need to choose sustainable products and packaging.
What advice would you give to other producers during lockdown?
With the majority of customers having more time on their hands, they can be be more critical of the producers they choose to buy from. Make sure that the products you sell are a reflection of your company’s reason to exist.
What are your hopes for the coming months, and the post-lockdown world?
We’re excited to see other producers innovate. Crises usually yield a few incredible results. It’s also going to be great to see the specialty coffee and fine food scene evolve with the new social and cultural environment we’ll find ourselves in.
Read more in May’s edition of Fine Food Digest – read online here.