Coffee Query: Ferg Brown, Roasted Brown
Ferg Brown has been in coffee for 5 years, though he would say his coffee experience really began when he opened Roasted Brown, 3 years ago.
What got you into coffee and what’s kept you in coffee?
Probably what got me into coffee was drinking the coffee, and then the deep romantic notion that I think is in everyone that they’d love to run a coffee shop. I think those two things combined is what got me into coffee. In the early days, I definitely wouldn’t have had an opinion on what good coffee was, so that wouldn’t have been high on the list - but falling in love with drinking coffee definitely became the driver, rather than the idea of having my own coffee shop. The one thing that wasn’t on my radar at all in the beginning became the leader that pulled us into this space. And obviously the caffeine addiction that I inherited at the age of 3 years old probably helped!
What have been your favourite coffees, both in filter and as espresso?
Favourite filter.. I can’t remember the name of it, it was a Honduras coffee from Heart, 2 years ago. It was by far my favourite filter. It was on a V60, and it was just a wonderfully balanced, juicy, acidic, sweet coffee.
Espresso, I think it’d have to be the Ethiopian Bokasso. Just as a really interesting, refreshing, super drinkable coffee. Every time we drink it, every time we pulled a shot, we didn’t want it to end. It was immediately good and immediately different - not the kind of different that wears off after three weeks, it’s just every time we think, “I can’t believe I’m drinking this!”
What’s your home coffee setup?
I have a little bit of everything! I have a Clever, an Aeropress, a V60, Chemex, a Kalita pouring kettle, Salter scales, and 4 or 5 different coffees from different roasters at any given time. I have to, I have to know how we’re doing as a roaster, so I get different coffees delivered to the house from different roasters. And I have a Baratza Encore grinder. I use my aeropress and Kalita Uno the most - just less apparatus!
Where do you want Dublin/Ireland’s coffee culture to develop next?
I want to always be a part of the pioneers, but I want the mainstream to become today’s speciality. I would like us to do away with speciality, because every coffee would be great in Dublin. I shouldn’t have to go into the city to get good coffee. I’m lucky with The Happy Pear down the road from me, but there’s not a lot of speciality coffee sprawl yet. Also, being able to pay baristas better - to have loads of highly skilled baristas, and to make that more of a career.
Who’s someone you admire in coffee?
So many cliche answers to this question! And I don’t want to give a cliche answer, because it’d be real - like, I’ve learned so much from Matt Perger and Ben Kaminski, reading their stuff, and James Hoffmann.. There’s loads of people. I think in Ireland, it’d have to be Colin [Harmon], because I really admire how he’s built a business out of a passion, and done it in a really successful business way, but in a way that the human being is still very much there, and still always very sharing of what he knows and pioneering. I think he’s a clever guy who does things very well, but also in a relations way. Colin’s always remained Colin, I think he’s built a really beautiful thing, and it’s nice to admire a local. And he represents Ireland on the world stage in a way that really shows how it is.
What advice would you give to somebody just starting out in your field?
Don’t be in a rush, and always keep your adventure at a pace where it can be passion-driven, because it takes a bit of time for the finances to catch up, and without being passionate about it, it could be horrible!