The Roasters Business is a series that focuses on inspiring up-and-coming roasters. This week, we spoke to Philip Turpin, managing director of Cycle Roasters in Germany, who aims to educate customers about every aspect of specialty coffee.
For many, the position of barista is simply a part-time job. For some, it can be a rabbit hole, sending them further into the intricacies of specialty coffee.
That is how Philip found himself as the co-owner of Cycle Roasters alongside his best friend, Sergey Sukhachev. However, Philip did not start his roasting journey as a coffee barista, but instead found himself behind a bar.
“I wanted to learn the art of cocktails,” he explains. “Then, a classic Faema E61 espresso machine got me hooked, and I found myself searching for perfect extractions and latte art tutorials.”
Despite having studied business administration and German philology, Philip took on a role as head barista and soon began learning the art of roasting coffee. It was there he found his passion, and a small feeling of doubt.
“Like so many people, I often questioned whether I was in the right place, and what I could achieve by being my own boss.” Philip says. After participating in the German Roasting Championships, and coming third in 2018 and 2nd in 2019, Philip began formulating a plan to open his own roastery.
Meanwhile, Sergey had completed an apprenticeship as a restaurant manager and was in search of the perfect cup of coffee. After training as a barista, fate bought the two friends together, and Cycle Roasters was launched in January 2021.
Appealing to Nordic coffee consumers
Inspired by the salty, mellow air of Northern Germany, Cycle Roasters offers a variety of coffees that showcase the traditional Nordic style of roasting. With Nordic-style coffee, there is often a preference for light-roasted, fruit-forward coffees.
“It was clear to us that the brand had to be very clean in its feel, colouring, and tone,” Philip explains. The result is sleek, white multilayered coffee packaging with the silver Cycle Roasters logo embossed on the front.
When it comes to their seasonal coffee offerings, the brand likes to play with calming pastel colours, such as peach or blush pink.
The company offers espresso, filter, and coffee for automatic machines. Furthermore, the coffee selection is broken down into ‘beginners, advanced, and professionals’, helping to cater to a wider variety of consumers.
The Cycle Roasters website has been designed this way in order to reflect the brand’s values: to make specialty coffee, and the knowledge around it, accessible to everyone.
“Every coffee and its story is unique. The team at Cycle Roasters always wants to get the best out of that coffee and share it with our customers,” Philip says.
The team has carefully matched their offerings to the needs of their customers. This means a bag of roast coffee is often accompanied by tips on how to grind and brew the beans so the customers can experience the beverage as intended.
“We knew what the local market wanted and needed, as we had both been in the coffee scene for some time,” Sergey explains. “That said, we still invest in new flavour profiles in order to broaden our market and show what coffee can do.”
While both Philip and Sergey are avid cyclists, the name is not inspired by the sport. “When I mentioned ‘Cycle Roasters’ to Sergey, he looked at me as if I were mad,” Philip laughs.
“He soon realised the name meant something completely different to me. ‘Cycle’ meant the cycle of coffee: the harvest, the processing, and closing the circle with not only an offering of great roast coffee but also a great experience. Regardless of whether the customer is being served or brewing the coffee themselves.”
“One hurdle for us was formulating what we wanted to do before we opened our doors,” Philip says. “We knew exactly what we wanted to do, but were not sure how.”
With Philip’s experience in roastery start-ups, the team decided to place a high investment into their roasting equipment. “I knew investing in a 35kg roaster and furnishing the roastery would be worth it right from the start. That way, we wouldn’t have to buy new equipment until we expanded to producing over 100 tons of roast coffee.”
By making this initial investment, Cycle Roasters currently produce 25 tons of roast coffee a year. “Having this equipment has allowed us to take on large orders and more wholesale customers without any hesitation, headaches or additional costs.”
Making the right investments
The business has grown with every coffee it has brought out, helping to broaden its range and sharpen the team’s focus.
Philip and Sergey have expanded the business to offer various coffee courses to local customers. These include sensory and brewing classes, as well as workshops on how to get the best out of a home espresso machine.
This is because brewing a cup of specialty coffee often requires a level of precision in controlling a range of parameters (e.g. grind size, temperature). Teaching customers how to get these parameters right may give them a deeper appreciation for specialty coffee, and the producers behind it.
This ties in perfectly with Cycle Roasters’ mission of making specialty coffee more inviting for everyone.
“Looking back, it was the right decision to scale our operations the way we did,” Philip says. “That way, we could focus on selling for the growth we needed without being held back by the wrong equipment.”
More importantly, Philip made the time to learn more about the financial side of coffee roasting. I think understanding the financial side of things is essential to growing a brand. Knowing these things yourself can really help make better business decisions.”
Philip constantly invests in growing his own knowledge, as well as that of his team. “That’s what I love about being a roaster and a business owner – I have the opportunity to learn every day.”
Photo credits: Cycle Roasters