This month we catch up with Hannah Whitton, Head of Coffee at Craft House Coffee. She brings a wealth of expertise to the Craft House team with years of experience working as both a barista and roaster. Craft House are Speciality Roasters based in Sussex, UK.
Tell us about you and your current role at Craft House.
Born in London but grew up in Australia, Malta and then returned to the UK where I have been living (and working in coffee) since my late teens. I joined Craft House as a Head Roaster, a few days before the pandemic/lockdown hit (so it was an intense start!) when there was just three of us. I’m currently working as Head of Coffee and we now have a team seven super lovely, passionate and knowledgeable people!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Very busy. Haha! After a coffee and a catch up with the crew it’s straight to weighing out the green for the day, heating the machine up and cracking on with roasting. Time is precious and limited so if I’m not roasting, I’m QC-ing or apologising to people for having not replied to their emails sooner…
How do you approach sourcing coffee? Is there anything here you find particularly challenging?
We work with green suppliers that align with our values, that help educate us and who themselves are constantly striving and working on what it means to be ‘ethical and sustainable’. Something I personally find challenging (and saddening yet humbling) is that you may be implementing a sourcing approach that previously you once perceived to be a positive and impactful one then to find that actually, it has a negative impact down the line; which is always at the source with the farmers themselves. So, we are working on deepening our understanding of this and making much more informed decisions such as repeat buying from farms every year, cultivating direct relationships with farmers and delving more into the conditions, support and needs of the farmers themselves. A project that I’m working on for 2024 is ensuring that we are focusing and buying more from female-owned cooperatives/farms. Making the right decision requires owning up to past mistakes, asking a lot of questions and constantly learning and keeping up to date with what is happening in the world, and world of coffee, which is something I and everyone at Craft House endeavour to keep doing.
What were you doing before you joined Craft House?
I worked as a barista in a few local and loved coffee shops in Brighton as well as a couple of roasteries as a production roaster.
How do you approach sustainability and the environment at Craft House?
We do lots of great stuff but we definitely have more to work on. Doing the right things for the planet, our people and our community is so important; we’re Carbon Neutral Plus, supporters of Forest Carbon UK, proud members of the 1% For The Planet Alliance (supporting charities such as Project Waterfall) and all our packaging is recyclable and compostable. All of our chaff and coffee grounds are used in the local vineyard compost and we also have full separation of all waste/recycling to ensure we minimise general waste. Our coffee sacks are given away to anyone who would like to take them and the grain pro bags are used as bin liners. We all work hard to make a difference at work and in our personal lives and we’ll continue to keep pushing ourselves to improve more!
Is there anything you like doing in your spare time?
Eat… And by that I mean cooking but of course the eating part of it is great too! I also like drawing, creating digital illustrations which I’ve exhibited in the past but if I’m not cooking, doodling, writing music or playing video games then you can find me tinkering on my motorbike. It’s currently off the road at the moment but I’m hoping to get it back up and running next year in time for spring!
Is there anything new or exciting happening at Craft House that you could share?
We had a cyclone fire recently… That was pretty exciting (and terrifying)! Aside from that we have a little evening event up at the Sanremo showroom in London on the 19th October where we’ll be cupping some coffees and talking about up and coming projects in 2024. I think it’s our first ever London cupping social, so really looking forward to it! Click here if you’re interested.
Do you have a mantra you live by?
“Everything is impermanent.” We exist in a constant state of flux with no fixed state of being or feeling. It’s something I return to and remind myself of when life gets tough, knowing that it won’t last forever… As well as when things are amazing and wonderful; as it helps me to appreciate those moments even more.
What have you been listening to lately?
At work we listen to a lot of fairly heavy music… Zeal and Ardor, Bad Omens, Everytime I Die, Palm Reader anything to keep our energy fuelled! But we can go from that to country music, drum and bass, soul, deep house and hip hop. My favourite artist at the moment is Forest Swords, he makes dark electronic music that’s beautifully ethereal and haunting yet euphoric.
How do you take your coffee?
Black usually, double espresso with a bit of hot water but when winter arrives I usually opt for a flat white. I think I associate milk/mylk based drinks with cold weather and rainy days and find them comforting.