Beanhunter Coffee Club – Hark Coffee Roasters

Written by Jamie|7, April, 2021

What is your roastery’s ethos?
Make a product that is a knockout in the cup, flavour is king. Roast beans in a way that honours their personal flavour traits and make it understandable to the customer. Consistent coffee, that tastes amazing and all the people involved should love what they are doing…simple.

What is your roastery’s story/ where did it all begin?
It all began when I was drinking coffee every day (multiple times) but tasted a monotony in flavour profiles. I found blends mild and bitter when attempting to be strong. Then I stumbled across a little roaster and the coffee had the biggest body, smoothest finish and instead of trying to use bitterness to intensify the perceived strength, it added to the flavour profile in a gentle way…like true caramel.

Well within a month I had bought that business and springboarded into what we now know today as Hark!

When did you start/date founded?
Our doors opened November 1st 2018

Who started the business/roastery?
It was the brainchild of 2 people, Sam McKay and Theo Engela (owners)

Who is the head roaster?
Sam McKay is the head roaster, he has worked on exclusively fluid bed roasters for over 5 years, putting two together himself.

Any others on your team we need to credit?
Yolanda Mendez is our extraction specialist who assists the head roaster in bringing a holistic approach to: roasting, blending and brand definition.

What makes you unique?
Well, for a start we roast in one of the rarest ways. True fluid bed roasting is 100% convection. Something only 3 roasters out of the 130+ roasters in SA can boast, I know because I built 2 of them.

We also identified how many shop owners and coffee professionals feel lost in their systems and production of coffee. To this end, we have given ourselves to research to “be the coffee geek” for our wholesale customers. We also refine in-store procedure to increase efficiency for business in this challenging environment while having consistency in their product.

We enjoy creating opportunities and revenue streams for our wholesale partners, hence we have various products: beans, plant-based pods, cold brew, creative operation solutions and online training suites. This is a big one for our partners

We are never content with what we know. Also, we have a huge coffee coloured groodle. We figure vineyards have dogs, why not coffee roasteries. Ours is called Pilot, merch line soon to launch.

Where is your roastery heading/ plans for the future?
We have toyed with so many concepts, we like mystery, adventure and big business. We also don’t begin a large undertaking unless it’s going to be the best we know on the market.

Currently, we are set to move into a temporary location while we formulate ideas for our forever factory. But rest assured it will be a destination for the entire state.

We also have a new product, the first of its kind in SA. It’s super exciting and everyone will be able to access it. We are a few months off but plans are underway and $$ are being spent. Very exciting.

Why are you passionate about the coffee industry?
From a business perspective, I like coffee because there is fun scalability. A coffee business is fun and cool by nature. So Sam and Theo like expressing their creativity and enhancing people’s experience.

The core of passion comes from coffee being a product that no matter how much you learn and do, you can always learn and do more. My (Sam) mind never stops ticking, from the agricultural perspective, roasting, coffee machines, innovation, and the PEOPLE! We have so many awesome, kind, knowledgeable people in our industry. I regularly chat to competitor roasters and we share a beer and laugh…what other industry can you find all of these things?

I have recently been uplifted by hearing about and joining projects that empower the growers by way of education, pay and facilities. As we grow, we will likely become more proactive in this area, in our own unique way.

Any coffee competition wins?
No competition wins thus far, I am still unsure if Hark is destined for this. We are a company that want real impact on our market and therefore we would need to believe in the merit of a competition.

 Any special roasting technology you are using?
We use fluid bed roasting, which means our beans literally levitate on hot air until they are perfectly roasted. Because we can avoid contact surface burns, our blends come out tasting bigger-bodied, but smooth. The way in which you apply air to a coffee bean will always dictate the final flavour, in our case, the method is so rare, people have often never tried it.

This week on the Beanhunter Coffee Club you will be drinking…

Our Humdinger is our signature espresso blend. It is ethically sourced and we actually flew to this region in Brazil to meet some of the producers in Minas Gerais with Southland Merchants. It has a cacao, nuttiness that kicks in the beginning and the body of our peru lingers with an earthy note and to finish some lemon zest sweetness from the Colombian.

Our Colombian filter roast is an easy to drink morning coffee. A medium body with a slightly darker finish from most filters. This is us taking your drinker outside of their comfort zone of filters. But very easy to understand and once it is finished, a second is desired, that our quality test.

Any famous last words?
Go get yourself Harked up.


We hope you enjoy this week’s cup. The Beanhunter Coffee Club is the best way to discover amazing coffee – join today!