Businesses in Kendal are taking part in #yourewelcomekendal, a campaign to promote all the fantastic cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars, producers, and food retailers in the town.

As part of the campaign, we’ve been catching up with the people behind the businesses to find out why they do what they do. 

Rob Baines is the general manager of John Farrer & Co Tea & Coffee Merchants Kendal, the UK’s oldest coffee roastery, founded in 1819. These days the coffee roastery is based in a modern industrial unit on Shap Road not far from the original shop in the heart of Kendal town centre. 

Rob, originally a Lancastrian, but now firmly a Kendalian, has worked at Farrer’s for around 21 years and is responsible for running the company and overseeing all its production activities, including coffee roasting, coffee machine installation, engineering and repair, as well as customer services and delivery. 

Rob initially started out as a coffee packer where he also helped with the deliveries. He then got the coffee bug and dedicated his time to learning the trade of roasting and coffee machine repair, taking part in creating unique blends of coffee and tea while helping Farrer’s evolve into the modern world.

Rob moved away from Farrer’s for a couple of years setting up his own specialist coffee roastery; however, Farrer’s made an offer he couldn’t refuse, and he returned as production manager, before becoming general manager in 2021. 

‘’I’ve pretty much been involved in the coffee trade from the start of my career, learning every aspect of the business along the way,” he says. 

“I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been able to grow into the role of GM. I understand every single aspect of the business, having done pretty much every role at some point over the years.

“I’m lucky I’ve got an amazing team working alongside me, most of which have been with the company for a long period of time, which is unusual in lots of businesses today. We all work really well together and it’s one of the reasons why we have grown quite a bit as a company in the last few years. 

“We’ve spent a fair bit of time consolidating our core business in the Lakes, investing in state-of-the-art barista training facilities and getting recognised by the leading industry body as one of the few accredited learning centers in the UK. 

“The success of Farrer’s has enabled us to invest in brand new coffee roasting technology to update our production facilities. This includes the latest computer aided small batch roasting tech, which now means we can do very small batch tests roasts. This gives us the ability to develop the range of single origin small farm sourced coffees without wasting loads of coffee in the process. Having state of the art technology means we can replicate specific roast patterns for a particular coffee variety time and time again, which means we get total consistency in each and every batch. The tech also gives us access to coffee roast profiles from around the globe, giving us the ability to create bespoke artisan roasts for customers.

“The team and I love living in Kendal and being here just gets better and better. We’ve got the landscape to take part in amazing outdoor activities and the food scene has grown massively in the last 20 years. It’s vibrant and innovative and a brilliant industry to be in. 

“There are some fantastic companies across Cumbria doing amazing things in the food and drink sector and it’s no surprise it’s continuing to make a name as a top food destination. The former Beales site in town is developing and Kendal Farmer’s Market continues to grow and attract amazing producers, like Lovingly Artisan, Winter Tarn Dairy, Sillfield Farm and Ginger Bakers to name a few. Obviously, John Farrer knew what Kendal was about when he set up shop over 200 years ago!”

You can check out Farrer’s on Instagram and Facebook. 

About #yourewelcomekendal

#yourewelcomekendal is being funded by the Government’s Welcome Back Fund. The Welcome Back Fund is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and HM Government as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. 

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