Two coffee entrepreneurs from Banbridge will don their backpacks and take their search for the perfect blend to Central America later this month.
Mark Anderson and Gregg Radcliffe, who own Ristretto, have decided to embark on a trip to Guatemala, where they will trek to some of the most remote farms, or Finacas, in the country to get a closer look at coffee they import.
“It is our first trip our there and we want to get to know some of the growers and the work they do so we can build direct relationships with them.
“It will also help us let the end consumers know about who is actually producing the coffee they are drinking,” said Mr Radcliffe.
The two South Down entrepreneurs started roasting coffee in their garages eight years ago because they felt there was a lack of good coffee in Northern Ireland. They eventually ditched their jobs in IT to start Ristretto.
It now supplies some of the province’s best known restaurants — including Deane’s in Belfast, Cafe Merlot in Enniskillen, Tedfords in Belfast and Jeffers by the Marina in Bangor — and has been included in the Bridgestone Guide for 2010.
Ristretto uses coffee beans from all over the world, including El Salvador, Brazil, India, Sumatra and Guatemala.
The men are looking forward to seeing production first hand as Guatemala is currently in the middle of this year’s coffee harvest which involves hand picking coffee cherries from trees which are often high in the mountains and very hard to reach.
“We want to spend time with the coffee growers and their families as it is the hard work and dedication of these people that make it possible for us to bring such great coffees to Northern Ireland,” said Mr Anderson.