what we do
We are coffee importers, roasters and wholesalers. We sell and service all types of espresso machines and commercial beverage equipment and we help people all over the home counties to bring their ideas to life, helping to build new cafes, pubs, restaurants, galleries and we’ve even helped to build a cinema!
LULU was born in 2013, in the lovely Hertfordshire town of Ware. We bought a small second hand roasting machine and installed it in our shed at the back of the little coffee shop on the high street that we’d just opened.
In the early days, we just roasted coffee for customers that visited our shop and a few friends that had restaurants in the town. We’d regularly fill the high street and the streets behind with roasting smoke and before long we started to get plenty of complaints from the neighbours as we’d roast into the night to meet the growing demand! In 2014 we bought a bigger roaster and moved roasting out of the shed and into a dedicated industrial unit in Hertford and we reached 100 wholesale customers too. In the same year, we signed a distribution deal with Conti to sell their brilliant espresso machines.
In 2015, we doubled our wholesale customer base, bought another roaster and three coffee carts. In 2016, we opened and closed a railway kiosk, moved our roasting back to Ware and rebuilt our tiny bakery. By the end of the year we had passed 450 wholesale customers, mostly in our Hertfordshire heartlands but also into Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex and London. We signed a distribution deal with Franke to sell their fabulous bean to cup machines. In 2017 we won a great taste award, we’ll install our big new roaster into Waggoner’s Yard, offer some of our products in great supermarkets, sell online for the first time and continue to focus on doing what we do best – creating fantastic products and providing great service for our customers.
First and foremost, we’re a Hertfordshire business and where we live and work is really important to us. Since the very beginning we created a fund from our loyalty card scheme and used it to invest into charities and projects which directly benefit people where we live.
We’re very proud of the products we make, but we couldn’t create those products without the hard work of growers, farm and mill workers in some of the poorest countries on the planet. We actively seek out producers with sustainable values at the core of everything they do and where we can’t buy direct from origin, we look for coffees that meet international sustainability standards such as Fairtrade and UTZ.
Our people make LULU what it is, and we are committed to paying a genuine living wage to the people that work right across our business. Since the very beginning we have always paid the London living wage and we are committed to it.
Localism is a big deal to us. We champion local produce and always try to use local wherever we can, be that ingredients in the food we sell in our shop or the trades and professionals we use to help us develop our facilities and our business.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
We re-use the majority of the cardboard packaging we receive, and our customers often see their deliveries arrive in hessian coffee sacks which are often then up-cycled into something new. We supply our own LULU venues with re-usable buckets, saving on thousands of foil bags every year, and a number of our trade customers have opted to be supplied this way too.
We’re currently working on a scheme to recycle our old pallets, coffee roasting waste, coffee grounds and scrap cardboard into fuel pallets which, in the future will fire our roasters and heat our buildings.
It’s really important to us that everyone has the opportunity to get the best out of our products, so we’ve created a few simple brew guides to help you get started. But if you’re really serious about making great coffee, you can book a course and work with our coffee superstars at our Ware factory!
Download our aeropress guide here and find out how to make the perfect espresso at home
Learn how to perfect your coffee with the famous French Press brewing machine
Learn how to craft coffee exactly to your tastes with this increasingly popular brewing technique
Learn how master the ultimate filtration technique with the impressive chemex
What is speciality coffee?
Speciality coffee is grown and farmed in great conditions, harvested with care, meticulously processed meticulously and roasted and brewed with the skill to do justice to everyone involved in the journey.
For us, speciality coffee is tasty, well made and ethically sourced and it’s coffee that Jon (our grader and roaster supreme) and our buyers out there in the field have scored above 80 points (out of 100).
IS OUR COFFEE ARABICA? / WHAT’S ARABICA?
Coffee species are pretty much always Arabica or Robusta. Arabica has much less caffeine, but much more naturally occurring sugar, which makes it tastes much better than Robusta. We still dont know all of the Arabica varieties out there, and we’re learining more and more all the time – which makes it a much more interesting and exciting product to work with. Because of this, we only use arabica in our products.
WHERE DOES OUR COFFEE COME FROM?
All over the world, between the tropics. We currently buy from 40 farms and co-operatives that produce great coffees that we really enjoy drinking, with a particular focus on Central & South America and East Africa, and Indonesia.
IS OUR COFFEE FAIRTRADE?
Some of them! But neither Fairtrade, Organic, UTZ or RFA are primary buying standards for us. The Fairtrade model exists to ensure a minimum price guarantee to producers for their coffee and is much more important to the huge producers supplying supermarkets and big chain stores with run of the mill, conventional products. The fairtrade model did tremendous good in the beginning as it pulled a huge number of farmers out of poverty.
For farmers and co-operatives that produce really great coffee, they can achieve much better returns for their crop by steering clear of the big buyers and the fairtrade model and work direct with the roaster. Fairtrade coffee is typically batched together with lots of similar coffees in a warehouse, meaning the roaster knows very little about where it came from or the people that made it. We look to promote the special things about the people we buy from, and to tell their story and what makes their products brilliant. We think our customers appreciate this too.
While we’re here, we should probably tackle organic certification too. The word organic has been linked in recent years with better quality produce, but with coffee this doesn’t really show the whole picture. Many of the best producers are really small, and paying for the organic certification just doesn’t make sense for them. Many smaller farmers use sustainable organic processes out of necessity, or because using fertiliser is unnecessary and expensive.
We do buy certified organic produce, but it’s not the first thing we look for.
do we offer training and support?
Yes! We offer training workshops for our wholesale customers throughout the year and have a full programme of training courses and online guides for anyone that wants to learn more about how to get the best out of our coffee. Learn more here
DO WE OFFER LIGHT AND DARK ROAST COFFEE?
Yes, but not just for the sake of it. We buy coffee for a reason, and every coffee we buy has a different character and profile which we want to highlight when we roast it. We roast every coffee to a point where we think it tastes great, where we can accentuate the natural sugars, acidity and body that’s present in every coffee we source.
Our Espresso blends are roasted typically roasted medium and we have one darker roast blend too. Espresso blends are designed to both stand up to milk and provide character and complexity when drunk straight or just diluted with water.
Espresso machines amplify the natural flavours, highlight the acidity and produce a creamy, intense emulsion with something magical called mouthfeel. We roast in a way that brings all of those things together.
Single origins tend to be roasted lighter and most customers enjoy brewing them using methods other than espresso. They’re also typically enjoyed black in order to appreciate all of the great things that the origin has to offer, but we wouldn’t dare tell our mums not to add a splash of milk, so we wont tell you not to either!
what’s the best way to brew?
Every brew method has a different recipe, but always use fresh, whole beans. Grind just before you brew. Rinse your filter, warm whatever you’re brewing in, weigh out your coffee and water, use a timer, don’t leave the grounds in the brew and leave it to cool a bit before drinking.
If that all sounds a bit complicated, check out our brew guides for more info, or get yourself booked on a course.
HOW LONG DOES COFFEE STAY FRESH FOR?
If it’s beans, three weeks – max. If it’s ground, about 20 minutes. We stamp the roast date of every coffee and who roasted it on the bottom of each bag.
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