Inside Patrick Dunham’s home the warm scent of coffee wafts on the air, alongside soft music. Bookshelves line the walls, citrus and coffee plants bask in the sun in the front window — and there are coffee beans covering his table. He spreads them out in a gradient to show the levels of roasting — from the untouched green beans to those that are shiny black and glistening with the natural oils released by the heat of the roaster.
It’s clear that his business — Patrick’s Beans — was an idea born from passion, experience and opportunity. A Red Seal chef for over fifteen years, Dunham spent an additional decade learning about all of the different facets of the coffee business before deciding to offer his own roasted bean selections in September of 2014.
The six signature blends that he has developed, which are marketed under playful names like “Super f’n Dark,” “Velvet Hammer,” “Tastes Like Danger (decaf),” and “The Safe Choice,” have been quickly adopted by customers across London and beyond.
“There’s nothing elite about coffee,” says Dunham, making reference to coffees that are marketed with complex tasting notes. “It comes down to what a customer wants. I’ve made a conscious effort to create a product that stands apart from other roasters and offer coffee that’s approachable.”
But it’s not just Patrick’s coffee that’s approachable — his business philosophy is all about making personal connections too. Perhaps it’s the influence of the time he spent in his youth on his grandparent’s farm, or perhaps it’s the effect of his friendly Old East Village neighbourhood, but Patrick’s Beans is all about fostering a sense of community through coffee. In fact, Dunham carries out most of his deliveries, to businesses and residences alike, himself.
“There are ways, on the economic side, that we can have better food and better quality and be able to support local economies,” he says, adding, “When you can see the butcher, baker, and craftsperson — it makes a big difference.”
This difference is also felt by Dunham — not only as a local business owner but as a customer, as he purchases coffee beans from farmers around the world.
“The first bean that I knew I was going to use was Cafe Justicia from the CCDA (Campesino Committee of the Highlands), which is a cooperative out of Guatemala,” he says. “It’s an incredible group. I’ve met the growers multiple times and the coffee itself is excellent quality and certified organic.”
Dunham’s fair trade, organic beans are also sourced from Central America, Ethiopia, and Indonesia. The international blends allow him to tap into the best that each bean has to offer.
According to Dunham, the percentage of locally roasted coffee purchased is quite small (only 10 per cent), which means there is a lot of room for growth. Many area restaurants and cafés are catching onto this fact and have hired Dunham to help them develop their own signature blends — a process that involves considering the owners’ tastes, the venues’ vibes and the target clientele.
“Multiple places, even on the same block, can then serve very different coffee,” he says. “Because the beans in every country taste different, by increasing or decreasing the roast and changing the ratio of how all those beans fit together, I can create something that is unique and different.”
Today, Patrick’s Beans can be found in a myriad of businesses around London, where they can be purchased as house blends unique to the café or restaurant, or as one of Dunham’s six signature blends. (See sidebar).
Individuals can also purchase Patrick’s Beans by the pound ($15 for 1lb, $25 for 2lbs) by placing an order online or by phone. Join his mailing list by visiting his website to receive updates and reminders.
952 Princess Avenue, London
Enjoy Patrick’s Beans at these establishments:
Arva Flour Mill
The Boombox Bakeshop
Eat Green Organics
The Hungary Butcher
Hyde Park Market
Kiss The Cook
Lets Eat Cake
La Noisette Bakery London
The Only On King
The Root Cellar
The Springs Restaurant
The Starving Artist
Time to Chill
Tanya Chopp is a local writer and communications professional who enjoys exploring and writing on topics related to local food and culture, humour and fitness.