Seil couple have ‘latte’ love for new coffee business

Fergus and Ness of Hinba Coffee Roasters, who have recently opened their new coffee shop in Oban.

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There’s a world of difference between refitting super yachts in the millionaires playground of Palma, Majorca to roasting speciality coffee on the Isle of Seil.

But young business couple, Fergus McCoss and Ness Achilles, are giving their ‘best shot’ to their fledgling business on Scotland’s west coast.

Having maintained and refurbished super yachts in the bustling Balearic capital last year, the couple had a desire for a new venture.

Fergus, aged 29, and Ness, 30, who hails from near Hanover, Germany, returned to Seil, Fergus’ family home, having also lived in Germany and Edinburgh in their nine years together.

Fergus said: ‘We wanted to do something we had a bit more of a passion for. We wracked our brains and coffee roasting started to appear as something we could do.

‘It’s super interesting and there’s different flavours, countries and origins, and so much variability in roasting alone.’

In July 2019, they launched Hinba Coffee Roasters – which takes its name from a ‘legendary’ Hebridean Island, thought to be Seil.

They now have a dedicated roastery from a converted workshop and roast two to three days a week. Their online retail shop sells beans and Seil-roasted coffee originating from Columbia to Guatemela and Peru.

The latest venture has involved opening the doors to a takeaway coffee shop in the former Dolce Vita premises at 62 George Street, and they are also selling goodies from the wood-fired bakery Solace on Seil, and The Puffer on Easdale.

Specialising in the higher end of speciality coffee, the brand strapline is ‘pure air, pure taste, pure Hebridean’.

As Fergus explained: ‘There’s no pollutants in the air around here and the way the roaster works is it draws in air, heats that and then that passes over the beans – so there’s zero pollutants in the air around here, which we believe does give a cleaner roast and a cleaner taste, finish, clarity and flavour from the coffee.’

Globe-trotting Fergus acquired extensive experience of ‘real coffee’ having travelled throughout his life, and in particular through central and South America.

He said: ‘Coffee is graded on a scale of one to 100 – based on aroma, intensity, quality and green bean quality – all of these different factors give it a score.

‘Speciality coffee is that coffee scored 80 or above and all the coffee we choose are 84 points and above – you don’t often find coffees over 90 points – so we are at the higher end of speciality coffee.

‘Our goal is that we want to produce some of the best tasting coffee in Scotland.’

The company works with importers based in Holland, England and Switzerland, with a focus on quality and ethics.

Fergus said: ‘The farm where it is coming from is super important to ensure it’s high quality and fairly paid. For example, a Colombian coffee we have at the moment, there are only 500 bags of  that produced each year, so it comes from a very small farm and is of very high quality, and they are very fair to their workers.’