Associated Northcliffe Digital
Content Marketing & Project Management
I approached Associated Northcliffe Digital (AND), the digital consumer division of DMGT (Daily Mail General Trust) in 2010 and together we launched one of its ‘Local People’ websites in Wadebridge, Cornwall.
The hyperlocal sites allow people from local communities to write and publish their own stories and content relating to local issues and news. Unlike more traditional local websites, all content is created by the people using the site.
I worked from August 2010 to August 2012 on a freelance contract as Community Publisher. My role was to project manage the site and contribute some content. The primary role of Community Publishers is to encourage other local people to get involved, write articles and upload content. My work also involved a considerable amount of SEO.
As community publisher I published stories, photo galleries and video on the 'local people' network throughout the South West, including This Is Cornwall.
· One million monthly users generating over three million pageviews
· At least a third of the town’s population across all 165 localpeople sites are active users - Source ~ Omniture regional stats vs Local Authority Data 2011
"Shayne House is an accomplished professional in the field of digital communication and SEO. His creative thinking enables him to effortlessly bridge the gap between creative and commercial, delivering results that far exceed expectations." - Marc Cooper, Head of Publishing, Northcliffe Media.
Below is an example article that I published featuring a local coffee roaster...
Hands on Coffee is a 'micro-roaster' of speciality coffee.
Using a cast iron hot-air roaster Hands-On Coffee roast 100% arabica coffee in batch sizes of only 10-15kg. As you might expect from the company name, a very 'hands-on' process is followed with every step carried out manually including loading the green beans into the roaster, ensuring the beans are roasted to an exact profile, and even filling the individual bags by hand. That's all pretty small-scale compared with even most moderate-sized roasters who typically roast in batches of 30kg or more, and definitely 'micro' compared to most coffee produced in the UK: roasted in bulk using machines and mechanised processes with hundreds or even thousands of kilograms capacity!
Supplying coffee that is freshly roasted is a priority for Hands-On Coffee Roasters. Hands-On roaster, Paul, explains: "In countries such as Australia there are a number of small speciality coffee roasters in pretty much every region. Like wine or craft ales, customers appreciate the benefits of buying a local artisan product compared to one manufactured in bulk and packaged so it can sit in warehouses and on supermarket shelves for months on end. We've not got anywhere near as many small coffee roasters here, but thankfully things are changing as higher quality freshly roasted coffee becomes available for people to taste". By roasting in small batches Hands-On Coffee Roasters are able to supply fresh to local independent retailers, cafes, or via online sales, with coffee that has been roasted within the past few of days. It's always stamped with a 'roasted on' date (by hand of course!).
For the real 'coffee snobs' out there, Hands-On Coffee are happy to talk in detail about their Joper roaster and how this influences the quality of the coffee they roast. Eloise, the other Hands-On roaster, explains that they imported this from the manufacturer in Portugal, and it uses hot air to roast the beans as well as the more traditional direct heat from a flame beneath a rotating metal drum. "We've found that this gives the beans a very even roast and we also have more control over the roasting process by being able to adjust the flow of hot air through the beans. Whilst the roaster is very traditional looking and well-built using cast iron, it also has a modern efficient gas burner so it is better for the environment in terms of energy use".
Hands-On supply their coffee in either 250g or 1kg 'kraft paper' bags with a tie for resealing the bag once opened. Paul explains: "Space age bags with valves are great for coffee that passes through a distribution chain, sits in warehouses, and on shelves for long periods. But our coffee is roasted fresh and intended for brewing whilst it's still fresh. This is probably the single most important factor to ensuring a great coffee. Coffee isn't any different to other fresh products - it goes stale and loses a lot of its quality in a relatively short time."
So how did Paul and Eloise of Hands-Coffee Roasters get into roasting coffee? Eloise explains their journey "We have come a long way in the UK from the watery and bitter instant coffees of the 1960's and 70's. Whilst the large coffee shop chains such as Starbucks raised the bar by introducing improved coffee drinks to the world, there is a realisation amongst many people that large-scale production can only go so far. People are beginning to realise that paying just a little bit more for coffee can result in much higher quality. We spent a couple of years living in New Zealand where the coffee we drank was almost always fantastic, and as coffee enthusiasts we soon realised this was because the beans were high quality, freshly roasted, and always freshly ground before brewing. Our love for coffee meant that we became more and more involved in the coffee roasting process, and we also spent time in Australia including places such as Melbourne, which is famed for its 'coffee culture'. On returning to the South West and north Cornwall we missed being able to buy a locally roasted fresh coffee. So we decided to change that!"
One thing that Hands-On Coffee don't apologise for is roasting their espresso coffee blend on the lighter side. "We think dark roasted espresso blends are often disguising mediocre coffee and cheaper robusta beans - the bitterness and carbon taste dominates! This is pointless when you're roasting a good quality coffee, so with our Lusty Glaze espresso we roast on the lighter side compared to many - so there is much more to experience in tasting the coffee". Paul also adds "We never blend cheaper robusta beans into any of our coffee as we don't think this adds anything other than a bitter taste."