Specialty Coffee Roasters and Wales—a relationship that may not be the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of the subjects. Understandably, as for the most part of Welsh history, Coffee was not a widely known commodity; the product of a plant grown thousands of miles away in a tropical climate, like so many of our now cupboard staples were. Coffee was only discovered and consumed by those who had access to travel and luxurious imports.
A stark contrast against today, where coffee shops have solidified their place on high streets across Wales, as well as various specialty blends available to buy directly from Welsh roasters, imported from a myriad of countries.
The 17th century was the first time Europeans, including the Welsh, were able to regularly drink coffee. Adventurers and explorers from Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands and other nations were not just busy discovering and colonising, but were also keen to introduce the exotic food and drink from distant lands to what was occasionally a hesitant West.
It is estimated that about 4,000 Italians came to Britain in the years between 1821 and 1851. By the time of the 1871 census that figure had risen to 5,063—by 1911 it was up to an amazing 20,389.
By the end of the 19th century, approximately 1,000 Italians had come to Wales, most of them working as seamen out of ports like Cardiff and Newport or in related industries such as ships chandlers or as dockers.
From the early 19th century onwards, Italians began to open up a variety of businesses from cafes & ice cream parlours to fish and chip shops; many of which were in the Glamorgan and Gwent Valleys, but also branched out towards West Wales. In Pembroke Dock there was Montis Cafe, and in Aberystwyth the Antoniazzis opened up the Penguin Cafe close to the famous pier.
There was a time when every little town and community in Wales had one—an Italian cafe and ice cream parlour.
While growing coffee beans is not really a viable option with the Welsh climate, importing beans and roasting them is. Over the last century, Roasting Coffee has become more and more popular, seeing a massive increase in Welsh Roasters. From Cardigan to Caernarfon you'll spot Welsh Roasters carving a path through and providing excellent coffee as well as Welsh charm.
According to the Mintel Coffee UK 2008 Report, Britons were consuming 70 million cups of coffee annually by that time.
Proof that Welsh Roasters have secured their place in the Nations hearts and that nothing starts the day better than a good cup of Coffee.