There ARE lots of activities that people do in their garages, but making coffee is rarely one of them.
David Redpath’s gleaming red coffee roaster takes pride of place in the middle of his garage. Surrounded by sacks of coffee beans, he creates his much-loved house blend ‘Tempo’, which is popular with both private and commercial customers.
The name of the business, Red Garage Coffee, is a nod to the unusual location of the business premises, and to David’s last name.
“I know a garage isn’t the first place you’d think of setting up a coffee business,” he admits. “But a toaster creates a lot of smoke, so there was no way it could be used in the house.”
His passion for coffee started with a trip and a surprise birthday present from his wife Gemma. “We went to visit friends in Melbourne and they took us, totally out of phase, for coffee to wake us up,” said David, from New Milton.
“The coffee was a revelation; It was so full of different flavors. During our 10 week trip we never had bad coffee. We came home saying, ‘What we’ve been drinking here is horrible.’
“I started researching and trying to create my own blend by buying three different types of ground coffee that I bought at Waitrose and mixing them myself.
“But to be honest, I really didn’t know what I was doing.”
It was after Gemma bought him a surprise birthday present that what was then just a hobby turned into a true passion. David explains: “He gave me a three-day course at Winchester Coffee Roasters.
“In the beginning, everyone showed up and everyone was involved in the coffee trade: buyers, baristas, etc. When it came to me and I said, ‘Hi, I’m David, I’m an accountant,’ everyone laughed. !
“It was a fascinating course. I learned a lot about all the different coffee beans in the world and how to roast and blend them.”
David then bought a table-size toaster for £500. “My aim was to create a mix that we could drink at home,” he said. “The secret to any coffee brand is in what is called the ‘roast profile’: the roasting process it goes through, including how long the beans are roasted.
“You don’t reveal your own roast profile to anyone.”
By then completely hooked, David spent months perfecting his own blend using coffee beans from Brazil, El Salvador, and Indonesia. The Indonesian bean is called Java ‘Old Brown’ and is aged for six years after harvest.
David, a cycling enthusiast, called his mix ‘Tempo’, which is the term cyclists use when they get into a good rhythm during a tough ride.
He said: “We liked it, our family liked it and then I brought the coffee to work and people started asking if they could buy a bag. I told Gemma, ‘I think I might have something here.’
The couple started selling Tempo at Christmas fairs and did so well that David bought a larger roaster and created a website that sold his own blend, along with single-origin coffee.
One is Monsooned Malabar, which, after being harvested, is left exposed to rain and wind for about four months, loses its acidity and gains richness and smoothness.
David now has regular clients, including the Forest Park Hotel in Brockenhurst, where guests are served coffee in cafes for breakfast and dinner.
Now he waits for his business to take off so he can dedicate himself full time.
“It really is a labor of love. I am quite proud of what I have achieved. Six years ago I knew nothing about coffee, but now I have developed a blend, created my own roast profile and my own style.
“I feel like after 40 years I’ve found something I’m good at!”
To buy David’s coffee go to www.redgaragecoffee.co.uk
Delivery is free within five miles of New Milton.