ARTISAN COFFEE. RESPONSIBLY SOURCED.
We meet Darren, founder of Bean Smitten at his workshop in-between Lamberhurst and Flimwell, tucked away down a quiet country lane surrounded by far reaching fields. We are greeted with the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans as we step into the roastery, an emporium of coffee just outside Tunbridge Wells.
Darren is a born and bred local who started his working life in accounts and finance, working for Cripps amongst other local companies. His passion has always been to create a business that brings people together over a quality product, so in 2014 he decided to pursue his interest in coffee and to bring speciality, responsibly sourced beans to Kent and beyond.
His mission is simple; to bring quality coffee to everyone. Whilst his recipe for the perfect blend will always be a safe guarded secret, he’s also keen to invite you to come and see how the process evolves. Although the coffee is Artisan and you can rest assured that Bean Smitten is not pretentious in the slightest. No hipster beards or complicated coffee jargon, just simply the finest coffee, accessible to all.
The raw beans are sourced through Falcon Speciality, a company that goes above and beyond to find coffee from around the globe. They have a reputation for discovering ethical beans grown by local families or small cooperatives. They pay a fair price to the growers and invest heavily back into communities through education and support.
For Darren, the opportunity to source special origin coffee from around the globe has endless possibilities. With trips planned to coffee farms later this year he is pursuing his passion of searching for individual flavours and often invests in buying small quantities or one-off batches. Most of the speciality coffee beans come from high altitudes, 1800 metres above sea level and typically grown on volcanic mountain ranges in countries within Earth’s equatorial belt.
When Darren isn’t roasting coffee you can find him at home in Wadhurst, where he lives with his son, Samuel. They have a shared love of the Marvel Film Franchise and plan to explore more of the world this summer with trips to Scandinavia and West Coast, USA. His other passions are food and wine, the latter sharing a lot of similarities to coffee. He will always be on the lookout for new produce and local cafes and restaurants offering something new and exciting.
Bean Smitten is made up of a growing team of three; Darren, Gina and Emma, all artisans in their craft. They work tirelessly in pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee. Their refined palates taste every newly roasted batch, giving it their gold seal of approval before it’s packaged up and sent out. They regularly host workshops for those wanting to understand more about the origins of their coffee, the way its roasted and most importantly to help define taste buds to recognise each subtle note in a blend.
Whether you’re looking for notes of dark chocolate, caramel or hazelnuts, Bean Smitten offers every coffee lover something unique; Their Staple blends can be found all year round, ‘Revive’ and ‘Classic’ are Award winning and have been given 2 stars by the Great Taste Awards 2018.
You’ll find these blends also available at The Daily Bread, Chapel Place, Common Rooms, Dear Park Café and Earl Grey.
Their Single origin beans are limited runs sourced from the likes of Peru, Burundi, Rwanda, Honduras, Brazil, and East Timor, but be quick, because once they’re gone, they’re gone (if you sign up to their emails you’ll be the first to hear about their latest products).
They offer a bespoke service to cover all of your coffee requirements, from roasting beans onsite three times a week to selling direct through their website. They are distributors of Sanremo coffee machines and offer wholesale too. Or, if you just want a cup of quality, hot coffee, you can drop in any time Monday–Friday 8am–4pm with some occasional Saturdays (see their Instagram account for details).
Darren’s Top 5 Things to do in Tunbridge Wells
1. Calverley Grounds park - beautiful landscaping.
2. Hotel Du Vin for lunch - calming, relaxing and loads of vintage charm.
3. The Barn – Mount Pleasant - stunning contrast of the inside/outside space and its tucked away location.
4. The Deer Park Café, Eridge. – great for a lazy weekend breakfast.
5. Tunbridge Wells Farmers Market - lots of independent artisan producers often selling produce that is simply unavailable in the shops.
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