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Hackney entrepreneur’s quest for the perfect cup of joe

Ian Burgess

15 years ago, Ian Burgess invested £1,000 in a fancy coffee machine, some beans, two decorating tables and a gazebo and started selling coffee in Chiswick Market.

Today the coffee business is booming for the former door-to-door salesman. His company Climpson & Sons employs 35 staff, roasts three tonnes of coffee per week, which it serves in its Broadway Market café and from a kiosk at Spitalfields and sells to restaurants, cafes and individuals throughout Europe. And he’s had no outside investment.

Climpson & Sons is one of over 100 independent businesses offering discounts to Local Buyers Club members (info here)

Ian, 42, lived in Australia for five years and worked selling aerial photos of people’s houses. He moved to London and became an estate agent but yearned to be self-employed. He told the Local Buyers Club: “In Australia I drank nice coffee – when I came back here there was a lack of decent coffee.

“So one day I bought my own coffee machine and started serving coffee in markets, first Chiswick, then Barnes and Bedford. I roasted my own beans at home on a 3-kilo Whitmee roaster. Customers would say how amazing it tasted and asked for it for their restaurants.”

In 2004 Ian branched out to Broadway Market and in 2005 he took on a shop unit there, a former butcher’s called Climpson & Sons – and the name of his new business was born. He invested £10,000 fitting it out and opened his first café.

As the business grew so they’ve required bigger, more advanced roasting spaces… for a while he roasted at Camden Market, then they moved to the back of a furniture shop in Broadway Market (where L’eau à La Bouche is now), followed by a unit in Broadway Market Mews. Now they occupy a 1,600 sq ft roasterie near London Fields, producing 3 tonnes of coffee a week.

Their beans come from the mountains of Kenya, the fields of Costa Rica as well as Ethiopia, Panama and Guatemala. They offer a barista training course and are at the cutting edge of brew methods.

The Climpson & Sons team

He said: “We do travel to find the best coffee – last year I was in Brazil, but it’s mainly my staff who travel now. We try to send two or three staff to origin each year, mainly for the experience but also for the challenge of sourcing some coffee.

“Good coffee is down to which beans you choose. Our beans are all fresh; last year’s crop only and we buy specialty grade coffee. Lots of coffee falls short – we look for well-balanced, good body and acidity.

“Running your own business is hard – in the early stages when you have to do it all by yourself it can be lonely. But I’ve been lucky enough to find the right people at the right time."

Ian’s wife Olivera works at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the couple have two sons. He added: “They like going to the roasterie and riding on the pallet trucks and playing with the forklift!”

He recently bought a fishing boat and the family love pottering about on the water near their Kent holiday home. He also loves cooking.

What is the Local Buyers Club?

We're on a mission to help you discover and support the best local and independent businesses.

We've negotiated discounts for our members at dozens of fantastic restaurants, shops, bars and businesses throughout North and East London. We help promote them and raise awareness of the advantages of shopping locally. We also organise and support community initiatives.

Join Local Buyers Club and, for just £12 per year, you'll be helping to support local business and you'll receive a discount card to use at any of the 100+ businesses listed on the site.


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