Lune Valley farm saved by ‘hipster coffee drinkers’

Joe Towers, April Towers, Kim Howard, Edward Towers and John Towers on the family farm.
Joe Towers, April Towers, Kim Howard, Edward Towers and John Towers on the family farm.

A Lune Valley farming family has scooped a top award for innovation after becoming the first in the UK to team up with London’s hipster baristas.

Faced with the repercussions of supermarket wars and spot prices crashing, the family was forced to rethink their market supply, which they did by working with baristas in London.

Working with a Copenhagen-based scientist/coffee consultant, Joe and Ed Towers developed the UK’s first barista milk, specially designed for pouring into coffee.

Research revealed there was a demand for a high protein milk to produce the perfect ‘microfoam’ for coffee.

Overhauling the farm’s whole dairy breed and system, Jersey heifers were purchased from Denmark in November 2015 and steadily grown to meet demand.

The specification for the London milk is 3.6 per cent protein, for which the farm’s black and white cows produce 3.3 per cent and the Jerseys 3.9 per cent. In order to consistently achieve the required 3.6 per cent, a button in the parlour diverts the milk into the Jersey tank when they go through the parlour.

Milk samples are then sent to National Milk Laboratories and when the milk tanker comes, Joe instructs how much black and white milk and how much Jersey milk to pick up so the blend is 3.6 per cent.

Ed has redeveloped the farm’s infrastructure to meet consumer demands for milk consistency and animal welfare.

A collaboration with a London distributor in March led to the launch of the farm’s own brand, Brades Farm Barista Milk, and today 450 cows are managed, 110 of which are Jersey.

A third of the milk goes into London coffee shops, as well as high end restaurants and hotels under the brand Brades Farm Barista Milk – although this will be rising to half their production in the near future.

Looking forward, new locations were explored outside of London to supply different areas of the country, with Joe and Ed keen to enhance the farm’s reputation for traceability, high welfare and innovation, which will hopefully lead to increased sales and brand awareness.

This begins next month with a collaboration with Stockport-based distributors Hopewell Farm, which will provide the farm’s milk to Manchester and the surrounding area – the first time the business has expanded outside of London.

Brades Farm also continues to operate as a traditional milk distributor for the local area, which the family has done since thwe 1970s.

Joe said: “Barista milk is a new concept. We were the first in the UK to develop a milk and target it at baristas.

“Demand in London very much exceeded our expectations.

“We have been hoping to launch outside London for a while but it’s a very different market.”