I've recently been working on a personal project - my first comic! It's called 'Just a Coffee, please' - a short, non-fiction graphic novel telling the story of coffee's journey to your cup. (I'm planning to risograph print & self-publish it, so copies will be available soon!)
Whilst researching, I realised I needed a closer look into the roasting process, so I got in touch with North Star coffee roastery, based in Leeds. Recently gaining B-Corp status, they want to build a coffee industry that works for everyone, with ethical and sustainable business values.
They very kindly invited me to come along for a tour - naturally I took my sketchbook, to make notes & sketches!
The coffee tour was so interesting it was great to hear about the whole process of roasting; they even work with coffee farm owners directly to source the raw coffee. We got to see every stage of the process, watching the beans inside the machine turn bright yellow and smell like bread before going deep brown and giving off that rich, familiar coffee smell.
This sketch of the main roasting machinery was very rough whilst at the roastery, and I came back to it in my sketchbook later to finish it and add colour. It was really helpful to understand how the machine works, and to watch the coffee move through all the stages. This double page has pretty much gone straight into the final comic, just with a few tweaks!
The roastery itself was incredible to walk around, I took a lot of reference photos to draw from! If ever you're a bit stuck working on an illustration project, getting out and gathering some first hand research can really inform & inspire your work.
I also got to take part in a tasting 'cupping' session - sampling different coffees, sourced from around the world and processed in different ways. There were noticeable differences in taste and smell (even for a complete coffee novice like me!) and it gave me a new appreciation for the wide variety of tasting notes you can get from coffee.
A big thanks to everyone at North Star for letting me visit! Check out their coffee at northstarroast.com