Dublin City Centre-based Coffee Roasters, Full Circle, Invest Directly In Small-scale Brazilian Farms To Future Proof Supply Chain And Protect Coffee Growers’ Livelihoods

Dublin city centre-based Full Circle Coffee Roasters have taken an innovative approach in helping to protect the long-term future of the Brazilian coffee industry as it battles against the increasing effects of climate change. The business, which is run by David Smyth and his wife & Business Partner, Louise, has directly invested in several small-scale growers that it works closely with – a move that will go some way to safeguarding the viability of coffee growing in the country and protect the livelihoods of the farmers in the process.

In recent months farms in Brazil, which is home to the world’s largest coffee crop (producing 40% to 50% per cent of all the coffee globally), have been catastrophically hit by freezing temperatures that have damaged a large part of the country’s coffee fields. This has resulted in as much as ten percent of this year’s crop being lost. 

And, with the impact of global warming only set to worsen, Full Circle has made the decision to invest directly in individual farms including São João, Sitio Monte Alto, and Fazenda Canta Galo – something that the roastery hopes will go some way to helping preserve the country’s fragile coffee growing industry for years to come. In doing so they have committed up-front to purchasing a number of lots, regardless of environmental factors which could affect the end crop output. So come rain or shine, the livelihoods of farmers like Fazenda São João’s Osvaldo Bachião and the Ribeiro do Valle family (who run Sitio Monte Alto) will be protected, and their commitment to continue growing coffee, as opposed to switching to other crops like cacao, will remain strong.

Commenting on the roastery’s investment in the small-scale farms, Full Circle’s Owner, David Smyth, said: “We have been working directly with a number of small farms over the past few years. The recent frost in Brazil has been devastating for the industry and may not be felt just yet but it is certainly coming down the line. By working closer with these farmers and committing to buying full lots, it allows us to strengthen the relationships and build more sustainable supply chains.”

Fresh seasonal coffees from all of the Brazilian farms that Full Circle has invested in, plus a wide variety of single origin coffees from around the globe are available to purchase now via their website, www.fullcircleroasters.ie. All of these coffees are available in 250g and 1kg bags.

The Fazenda Canta Galo roast delivers a rich well-rounded flavour consisting of dark chocolate, hazelnut, and plum, perfect for all day drinking. Sitio Monte Alto offers tasty notes of Pecan coupled with citrusy pops of plum and mandarin, which linger on the palette. São João is a delicious mix of dark chocolate, apple, and raisin – a real crowd pleaser.

A great way for home baristas to enjoy the full range of Full Circle coffee, which currently includes roasts from Peru, Ethiopia, Kenya, Columbia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Brazil, is to sign up to their online subscription service. Each month the roastery will deliver beans from a different region direct to your door, priced at €12.00 plus shipping (per month) for a 250g bag, or €38.00 plus shipping (per month) for a 1kg bag. And, with both one-off purchases and the subscription service, you have the option of choosing from either wholebean, or ground specifically for your preferred brewing method.

Sustainability and quality have always been at the forefront of everything that Full Circle does, with all of the beans that they roast holding a Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) cupping score of at least 85 – graded as ‘excellent’ – or above. Originally set up in 2014, Full Circle’s early success enabled it to establish its own 400 sq. metre roastery in May 2018 in a former horse stable on Grantham Place, just behind Camden Street. In full operation Monday to Friday, using their impressive state-of-the-art Probat Roaster, Owner, David, Head Roaster, Natalia Grabowska, and the roasting team, have the capacity to process over one tonne of specialty coffee each week. 

Having enjoyed an improved work-life balance over the last eighteen months as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions imposed on their business, Owners David and Louise’s sights are now firmly focused on planning for Full Circle’s future. Their budding partnership with former Ireland Rugby international, Jamie Heaslip, as Brand Ambassador for the business is set to see the roastery’s retail portfolio grow significantly in the coming months. A recent re-brand of their entire business and a move towards even more sustainable practices means that all of Full Circle’s beans are now delivered to consumers and as many as forty wholesale customers across Ireland (including all of Shoe Lane’s coffee shops in Tara Street, Dun Laoghaire & Greystones), in fully recyclable carbon neutral bags.

In addition to the roastery, David and Louise also own and operate several specialty coffee shops including Ebb & Flow in Clontarf and on Camden Street, and Sligo’s Milligram Coffee, all of which serve a wide variety of Full Circle coffee. Across these locations and the roastery, they manage a team of twenty full-time staff.

The Full Circle Story 

David Smyth’s background is originally in Civil Engineering. When the recession hit in 2008 it gave him an excuse to do something he had always wanted to do – open his own business. While studying for a Masters in Business Management, his interest in specialty coffee peaked. After being employed as a consultant by a cafe to implement best practice workflow processes for their new premises, an opportunity eventually presented itself to take over space on the Clontarf Road. And, in August 2015 he opened his first coffee shop, Ebb & Flow. Since then, he, along with his wife and Business Partner, Louise (who also works full-time as a Primary School Teacher), have successfully opened their Dublin city centre roastery (May 2018) and a number of specialty coffee shops including Ebb & Flow (Camden Street, Dublin) and the hugely popular Milligram Coffee in Sligo in the summer of 2020.

Initially the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted coffee sales for the roastery. With their wholesale customers having to temporarily close their doors and sales of takeaway coffees affected by lower footfall in towns and cities across the country, the business needed to change direction. They migrated online, built a website and introduced a subscription model that allowed them to sell their beans to consumers across the country and tap into the huge cohort of coffee enthusiasts whose interest in home brewing had peaked during lockdown. This change of approach has thankfully seen Full Circle’s sales return to pre-pandemic levels. 

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