Into the Spotlight, sponsored by Huddersfield-based Scriba PR, is a regular feature which highlights some great businesses. Here we profile Marsden-based Dark Woods Coffee.

A speciality coffee roaster has celebrated the countdown to its 10th anniversary by winning a clutch of awards – and is hopeful of another ‘Oscar.’

Marsden-based Dark Woods Coffee has secured no fewer than 16 Great Taste Awards for 2023 including four coveted three-star ratings.

The company has won more than 90 Great Taste Awards down the years and is the only coffee company to win two ‘Golden Forks’, the foodie equivalent of an Oscar.

One – or more – of its three-star rated coffees could be in line for a Golden Fork when the final taste test results are announced in September.

Dark Woods is a wholesale coffee roasting business based in an historic mill in West Slaithwaite Road. The company was set up in 2013 and sold its first coffee the following year.

One of the founding directors, Paul Meikle-Janney, said: “The Great Taste Awards are really important to us because every single item is subject to a blind taste test, with no branding and no clue as to where it’s from.

“The awards test everything from gins to jam, pickles to ice cream and every product has to stand on its own merit.

“There are some coffee connoisseurs on the panel but it’s not just coffee people, and that’s important.

“As a company we have some exclusive and unusual coffees but we also have accessible styles which everyone can enjoy.”

L-R: Paul Meikle-Janney, Ian Agnew and Damian Blackburn. Images by: Tom Kahler and Steve Lovatt

Dark Woods Coffee was founded by three directors, all with different skillsets but all with a passion for great coffee.

Paul ran a coffee training and consultancy business working with high street brands while Damian Blackburn was an expert coffee roaster. Ian Agnew had experience in the social enterprise and charity sector. He was helping Ethiopian refugees by bringing in coffee they had grown for Damian to roast.

Together the directors totally renovated a rundown mill and bought and refurbished a 1950s German-built gas-fired drum roaster which they still use today. Roasting of the coffee bean is key to its flavour and aroma.

The company is a commercial coffee roaster working with many clients including some prestigious names notably Fortnum & Mason.

Dark Woods also sells coffee online through its website and has a physical shop at its Marsden base. Every third Saturday of the month from spring to autumn a pop-up café is open at Marsden. The next one is on August 19.

The company, which employs 20 people, prides itself on its long-term relationships with coffee farmers and producers and imports coffee from across Central and South America and Eastern Africa but also India and China. The biggest suppliers are Brazil, Colombia and Ethiopia.

Ethics and values are also important to Dark Woods Coffee and the company is certified by B Corps, which shows it meets high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.

The company is just going through its latest assessment and hopes to have increased its score.

Cafe space at Dark Woods Coffee: Image by: Steve Lovatt

For Dark Woods Coffee the timing of the launch was right, just as interest in coffee was growing, and the location couldn’t be better either.

Paul added: “We launched at the right time and the skills that the three of us bring are quite unique and that has worked well for us.

“We are also very lucky that our whole team buys into what we do, not just with our product but how we like to work and our ethics too.

“There are five coffee roasters in Huddersfield and because of some heritage companies there’s a strong local skills base too.

“We have been lucky to have grown to be as successful as we are and achieve what we have with quality and ethics and the awards are great testimony to that.”

This year’s three-star rated coffees are: Colombia El Placer – Yellow Fruits; Arboretum; Colombia El Placer – 100% Pink Bourbon IPA; and Colombia Mikava – 100% Red Bourbon.

For more about Dark Woods Coffee visit the website HERE.