2022 was a big year for Chimney Fire. While it came with challenges, driven by the current climate, we also reached new milestones - B Corp certification, new roastery, new and existing partners and collaborations, team additions, five year anniversary - and have a lot to be proud of as a company. We are thankful to our customers, suppliers and partners without which none of this would be possible.
See below for a few personal highlights, in no particular order.
B Corp Certification
After over 200 assessments - covering everything from community and environment to governance and customers - followed by several evaluation rounds, we became B Corp certified in August. I was proud of the fact that our highest scoring area was customer stewardship, and our charity partnership with Re-Cycle (now in its third year), reducing plastic across our supply chain and buying coffee which is aligned to our responsible sourcing standards all supported a final score of 93.5 (13.5 points over the pass score of 80).
Gaining B Corp certification means we meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability, and provides some well earned recognition for all the hard work the team have put in. This is only the beginning as certification also provides a framework for us to build on, and most importantly, to make continued improvements across all areas of the business. We are involved in Surrey B Local, a working group to help bring sustainability improvements across Surrey businesses and promote the movement locally. Our first Impact Report, containing more information on our responsible sourcing standards and other aspects of the business will be released by February.
We were able to celebrate this achievement as a team in November, when we attended the B Corp event at the Natural History Museum in London alongside a 1,000 other UK certified B Corps. It was a great evening & we look forward to connecting with more B Corps in 2023.
You can read more about B Corp certification & what it means for us here.
Five Years of Coffee
This year we were able to travel to meet our suppliers for the first time in three years following COVID. It was great to visit Carmo Coffees and the Sertão farm in August, our biggest coffee supplier located four hours north of São Paulo, and producer of our Brazil Signature Espresso. This has always been one of my favourite coffees, although our November Discovery Coffee from PNG was a close second this year! We have a container and a half of coffee arriving from Brazil for the coming year and look forward to working with our other long-term suppliers, some of which we’ve been buying coffee from for over four years now.
Our wholesale partners do an amazing job with our coffee, from long-standing independent coffee shops such as Miss Polly Cafe and Wags N Tales, to starting to work with the University of Surrey. They are all equally passionate about coffee so please do visit our community page if you’d like to find Chimney Fire out of home.
In August we celebrated five years since Chimney Fire became more than a side-hustle. It was also the year we surpassed 50,000 online orders. I still remember the first online order from someone who wasn’t a friend or family member - how surprised I was that somebody actually wanted to buy a crumpled bag of beans roasted in a garden shed, as it was back then. To know that there are now many people enjoying Chimney Fire Coffee on a regular basis is incredible. Our goal has always been to do our best by our customers and this year back in January we did our first general customer survey and hosted our first focus groups. It was amazing to see so many people show up and taste no less than nine coffees on a couple of cold, wet midweek winter evenings. I hope it was worth the lack of sleep! Off the back of the survey and focus groups I’m pleased to say that we are also releasing a brand new core range coffee in January and already have some pretty exciting Discovery Coffees lined up for 2023.
2022 was also one of the most challenging of the last five years due to rising costs. We’ve always tried to offer speciality coffee at an affordable price point, and although we had to make changes to our pricing towards the end of the year, I’m proud we were able to keep prices low relative to quality and continue to offer free UK delivery. Please read this blog if you’d like to know more about why our costs have risen.
Finally, we’ve had some pretty special collaborations this year, including the Espresso Martini which is available from Silent Pool Distillers. I’ve heard it’s so popular that they can’t make enough! Huge thanks to everyone who has supported, partnered or collaborated with us this year.
The Big Move
This was a huge undertaking that started in 2021 and involved months of viewings and a lot of planning - sort of like moving home but with the added requirements of three phase power, a room wholly dedicated to slurping coffees, and space for a massive roasting machine.
An opportunity presented itself in the summer and by October we moved from our converted stables at Ranmore Common to Denbies Wine Estate, one of the biggest Vineyards in the UK just at the foot of Box Hill. The new space has four times the square footage, and is split over two floors, allowing dedicated roasting & production areas (including housing a new coffee roaster providing us with double the capacity), a tasting / training room, a shop front, customer service space, office, and lovely vineyard views on the drive in. Huge thanks to our prior landlord Nick who helped make Ranmore work for us as long as possible - we loved our time there.
Coffee experiences and tours are already a huge part of what we do and now we have the perfect space to continue our Bean to Cup Coffee Experiences, whilst introducing new roastery opening times, new coffee courses, new collaboration tours with the vineyard & new events to and from the roastery. Keep an eye out for lots of exciting stuff happening in and around the roastery in 2023.
You can find more info about our new space here.
Special thanks to the CF team who absolutely smashed it this year. To grow, navigate, move & continue operating as usual - roasting 1 MT / week - with a team of just six shows how everyone plays a vital role in the business. We’re also about to welcome Nathan who becomes the sixth permanent CF team member from January who, along with lots of other bits, will continue to provide you with some great coffee content.
I am extremely grateful to everyone who continues to enjoy our coffee and support us. Any feedback, critical or otherwise is always welcome via email@example.com - it all helps us get better at what we do.
Wishing you all the very best for 2023.