INTERVIEW: Naomi Millard of Carib Bean Coffee

The beans - from fresh green to roasted brown
The beans – from fresh green to roasted brown

I am excited to introduce you today to Naomi Millard from Carib Bean Coffee to discuss a little about the coffee business and a little about what she loves about Antigua.

Carib Bean Coffee Company has been one of my favourite brands in Antigua since the moment I first discovered the island. Not just because they roast really delicious coffee, but also because of their creative marketing and enthusiastic growth of the business.

From the curtains made of coffee sacks to the beautiful commissioned coffee themed art on the walls, this is one coffee business with a difference.  There are 16 different roasts to choose from, each with a special ‘island’ touch, supplying superyachts, cafés, hotels and supermarkets – they are even open for you to stop, watch the process and sample the results for yourself.

When you first meet Naomi, what strikes you is her bubbly nature, huge and happy aura and professional customer service. She arrived in Antigua 10 years ago with friends and inspired by the relaxed way of life, has been here ever since.

Starting out in real estate, she has since discovered a passion for the coffee business and Carib Bean coffee brand in particular. She shared with me an explanation of the coffee roasting business, from the fresh Arabica beans arriving onto the island, to the secret recipe combination of different beans and different roast profiles to the final product in a cup brewed to perfection. And how does she like her coffee? “Black Americano”.

– Tell me a little about your background and how you ended up in the coffee roasting business-

I was working in Real Estate when someone who had purchased a house through me, was looking for a new challenge, and I like to think it was fate that Carib Bean Coffee was on the market!   They bought the company in 2012 and offered me the position of Business Development Manager.  I jumped at the chance!  It was such a great product with huge potential to expand – it was a no brainer!

– You produce some exciting blends of coffee here, can you talk me through the process?

We were very fortunate that the previous owners had already established 16 very popular roasts.  The only addition we have made was the Caribbean Dream blend. Here in Antigua we do not have the right conditions to grow coffee, so we ship all of our Arabica beans in from various different locations across the Caribbean Basin and other exotics.  We then mix the beans (top secret recipes!) and roast them in our Sivets Fluid Bed Roaster.  It’s different from the conventional coffee roasters which move the beans around in a barrel where they are touching hot metal and can sometimes roast unevenly.  Our beans are pushed around in the hot air in a fluid form and are roasted to perfection.  It’s pretty cool to watch.  We do open roast days in the winter months so people can book to come in and watch the whole process take place and enjoy a free cup of ‘Hurricane Brew’ at the same time!

– How have you developed the brand?

Since 2012 we have secured many new accounts on the island, and we have since been Caricom approved and now have multiple overseas clients in St Lucia, St Maarten, Nevis, St Kitts, and Bequia.  We also started ‘Café Go Go’ – A Piaggio scooter with a van back containing an espresso machine –  so we are able to cater at events and literally just drive up and start serving your favourite coffees!  When England were playing cricket here last summer Café Go Go was up at the stadium and we had people queuing for over 30 mins for a cup of our coffee – and they all said it was worth the wait and kept coming back for more!  

– What are your future plans for the business?

World domination of course! (Just kidding)

We have a lot in the pipeline at the moment, and a lot of fantastic opportunities ahead for us.  Something you might start seeing soon is our coffee being distributed in the USA!  It’s something we are currently working on as we constantly get emails from people who have visited the island, bought our coffee, love it, and want more!  So watch this space!

– What do you love about the coffee business?

The coffee business is massive right now.  Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world did you know? It’s not just a great drink- it’s a way of life.  It’s part of many people’s daily routines. The industry just keeps continuing to grow – so it’s pretty exciting to be involved in that. 

– Where can we buy the coffee on the island, apart from your gorgeous shop and café right here near English Harbour?

Our coffee is available in all the major supermarkets across the island.  The Epicureans also have bean dispensers so you can pick your favourite blend and grind it to suit your machine.  If you are having breakfast at one of the hotel resorts – chances are, you’ll be drinking our coffee. And then there are, of course, various different cafés and restaurants across the island serving Carib Bean Coffee. 

– What do you love most about Antigua?

The sunshine, and being able to just go to the beach so easily – and having so many to choose from!

– What is your favourite view in Antigua?

Far too many to be able to choose one!  But definitely somewhere along the West coast.  I drive that coastline every day – and I never tire of the beautiful mix of turquoise and various shades of blues that hit you as you drive round the corner and look out to sea.  Stunning. 

 – Where is your favourite restaurant/s in Antigua?

Gosh, that’s a tough one.  So many to choose from! I’d say Cloggy’s for the South side- I just love their salads (and Espresso Martini’s!).  Al Porto for the West coast-  the food is great, the owners and the staff are awesome and there is always great entertainment throughout the week. 

 – Where do you like to go on a Sunday morning?

I love to put some great music on my iPod and head to Pearns Point for a bit of exercising.  It’s so peaceful up there, the views are stunning and the beaches are just picture perfect – I love it there!

Coffee waiting to go into the Bean Machine
Coffee waiting to go into the Bean Machine
The Bean Machine - "Putting a little island in your cup"
The Bean Machine – “Putting a little island in your cup”
Time to enjoy a cup of the fresh roast
Time to enjoy a cup of the fresh roast
Curtains made from coffee bean sacks
Curtains made from coffee bean sacks
Enjoying a 'Hurricane Brew'
Enjoying a ‘Hurricane Brew’
'Save the Planet - where else can you get coffee?'
‘Save the Planet – where else can you get coffee?’
Carib Bean coffee Antigua
Carib Bean coffee, Antigua

 


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