The art of coffee

For a boutique roastery on the border of England and Wales, cross-cultural collaboration using digital tools is key to a lively blend.

Close-up of coffee beans roasting
Watch the founders of Hundred House Coffee collaborate with artists worldwide using Dropbox.

Deep in the rolling green hills of Shropshire, England, you’ll find Matthew Wade, co-founder of Hundred House Coffee, inhaling the flavor profile of an adventurous new brew. A few feet away, his partner and co-founder Anabelle de Gersigny perches over her laptop. New label designs, sent over by an artist hundreds of miles away, are ready to review. The java connoisseurs are proof that you don’t need pricey city real estate to sell a specialty beverage—just a shared passion for the craft.

At Hundred House Coffee, creating artful cups of coffee extends beyond lively aromas: Beans are sourced from sustainable farmers in Africa and Latin America; meanwhile, the packaging, messaging, and artwork that accompanies each limited-edition brew stems from collaboration with creatives worldwide. Matthew’s international roasting experience, including stints in New Zealand, London, and Dubai, combined with Anabelle’s background in gallery and museum curation, has allowed the duo to raise the bar on coffee culture.

“When we release a new coffee, each has their own exhibition moment, because we want to showcase what the farmers are doing and provide as much information as possible,” says Anabelle.

Two men and a woman work in the back room of a roastery.
To dial into the details of a launch, the roastery relies on Dropbox. “I can cut the coffee, upload the tasting notes to Dropbox, and then a designer in another country can create the files and upload them for us to print out,” says Matthew. And because that joint effort—including transferring large filescommenting on designs, and making quick edits in a shared folder—happens fast, Matthew’s able to put more of his energy back into roasting, an artistic process in and of itself. “Both have a lot of repetitive actions that require perfecting, repeating, and redoing the same thing,” says Anabelle. The result: Matthew is able to buy and produce smaller batches of fresh, high quality coffee to delight his distributed base of customers.
Two men sample coffee while a woman works on a laptop.

The passion and integrity of Hundred House Coffee extends beyond the roastery—sales are poured back into the community through an Art + Industry program that benefits inner-city schools. The couple has worked with students to build creative briefs and designs around a coffee product, and Matthew and Anabelle plan to create an open-source curriculum using Dropbox that teachers can access. They’ve kept fellow artists and local java lovers top of mind, too—the next project for the Hundred House Coffee team is to convert a Victorian-style cowshed into a new roastery and creative space for workshops and events.  “We want to bring artists out of the cities, and into rural areas, and be that bridge,” says Anabelle. 

Video and story by Citizen Research

Hundred House Coffee logo on a wooden plaque.

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