Say hello to Simon, the face behind Root & Branch. It’s fair to say Simon has lived many a life before setting up and settling down with coffee roasting. Born and raised in Bangor, he moved to Aberdeen to study biotech, before spending some time in both the US and London where he studied theology, got ordained, and started an anti-trafficking network. If such ventures were not enough, Simon then undertook a solo motorbike trip to Siberia, via Central Asia and Mongolia.
When he finally decided to return to Northern Ireland, Simon moved straight into work in his family’s company. He always knew, however, that he ultimately wanted to work in sustainable business, so after a year of intensive research into the world of specialty coffee, Root & Branch became that work, and he’s existed at the helm ever since. Now married to Gemma, and with two young children, Simon has settled into family life. On his days off, you’ll find Simon somewhere along the shores of Strangford Lough, whether on a paddle board or in a canoe, his Hungarian vizsla, Otto, will always be in tow. Outside of the coffee world, Simon’s interests include technology, food, adventure sports, bitcoin, and growing vegetables in his poly tunnel.
Head of Roasting and Production
This is Finley, our head roaster. Hailing from Crossgar, he joined the team at Root & Branch in August 2019. After leaving school following his GCSEs, Finley had no idea what the future held. He decided to then head to Belfast to study professional cookery and patisserie, however, there always existed an interest and love for specialty coffee for Finley. So, the jump was made from the world of education, to the world of coffee. He worked in Kaffe O for two years, then joined Trait in Comber, before finally making his way to Root & Branch.
Finley sees his time as a barista and production assistant in Root & Branch almost as a right of passage before he began his role as full-time roaster. Roasting was never something he thought he would be doing when he first began working in coffee in 2017, but in Finley’s opinion, he has the best job going! Outside of the walls of the roastery, Finley loves football and is a massive Arsenal fan (next time you’re in the roastery, ask him which footballer’s hairstyle he’s ripped off this month). He also volunteers with his church and youth centre, giving much of his free time to the young people of his hometown. We’re delighted Finley is part of Team Root & Branch!
Digital and Marketing Manager
From the sunny shores of Bangor, Philippa moved to Belfast when she began studying Theology at Queen’s University. During her time at university, Philippa began her foray into the world of specialty coffee and worked at cafes such as Town Square, Indigo Coffee and Gelato, and Established Coffee. Philippa began her time with Root & Branch in July 2020, as a Barista and Production Assistant, and handling all things social media, before moving into the role of Digital and Marketing Manager.
The ethos and ethical foundations that Root & Branch is built on, paired with her background in climate justice and human rights, adds up to an ideal environment for Philippa. Moving into a marketing role, she believes her academic pursuits serve as an ideal foundation for producing content that is integral to the business. Outside of Portview, you’ll find Philippa with her head in a book, finishing her Masters degree in Human Rights Law, or of course, drinking natural wine.
Barista, Production Assistant, and Head of Training
A self-professed nomad, Stephen was born in Belfast, and raised in Newry. Over the years, Stephen lived in England, before moving back to Ireland, and then moved back to Manchester for his studies. He then settled in Edinburgh, where he married Sarah and their first child Niadh was born. While in Edinburgh, Stephen worked for a Multinational Telecommunications Industry, an experience that taught him the importance of enjoying where you work! A decade later, and family in tow, Stephen moved back home to where it all started.
During his time in Edinburgh, Stephen saw specialty coffee begin to take off, and he found himself hooked. When he made his way home in 2018, he helped his brother, Dan, set up his own coffee shop in Warrenpoint, Church Lane Coffee. Following this, Stephen and Sarah relocated to Belfast where he joined Established Coffee as a barista, and enjoyed an informative time there pre-COVID 19. In June 2021, Stephen joined Root & Branch. He looks after the Roastery Brew Bar, assists with production, as well as collaborating with wholesale customers in setting up their coffee bar and training their staff. We’re big fans of Stephen and the entire Fearon clan.