Cheers! Cider venture bears fruit for friends

Marc Cole is a director of Colemans Cider Company
Marc Cole is a director of Colemans Cider Company

It started as a way of using up extra apples, but has grown into a blossoming business.

Colemans Cider Company began life in Kilham three years ago and the team behind it are already hoping to establish themselves as Yorkshire’s biggest.

Local people are encouraged to get involved and take surplus fruit from their gardens – and they are paid not in cash, but in bottles of cider and fruit juice.

Director Marc Cole said: “It started when I moved to Kilham and bought Eastgate House, which is a lovely house with an orchard in the back garden.

“We had lots of apples and didn’t quite know what to do with them. There are only so many apple pies you can make.

“I come from the West Country and grew up surrounded by cider makers. It is very much part of the culture in the south west, so it seemed like a good idea.

The company makes apple, pear and rhubarb ciders and a range of other flavours

The company makes apple, pear and rhubarb ciders and a range of other flavours

“We experimented on a small scale in the first couple of years and it grew larger and larger. We decided we needed to do something sow e went on a cider-making course.”

Marc is one of three directors of the company, alongside Steve Frankish from Bridlington and Harmesh Jassal.

“What makes us different is that we wanted to use local apples so it was very much a Yorkshire cider, but the next challenge was how we were going to get our hands on enough apples,” said Marc.

“This is not a traditional apple growing area but it transpires that there were lots of people who wanted to help, from people with one apple tree to those with 10 and through to local farmers who had a farmhouse orchard.

We’ve got ambitions to be the biggest cider maker in Yorkshire

Marc Cole

“They were very pleased to see the fruit going to a positive use, rather than going to waste. So we encourage people to bring us their apples and we trade them for apple juice or cider.”

The company also hires out presses for home-brewers who fancy making their own tipple, although it is not something you can do without a bit of research.

Marc said: “You’ve got to understand the micro-biological process. You don’t need to be a boffin but you need to know what processes are happening.

“It’s not difficult and we run cider-making courses for people who want to try to make their own cider.”

Residents can take their surplus fruit and are paid in apple juice or cider

Residents can take their surplus fruit and are paid in apple juice or cider

Colemans rapid expansion has seen them move into an industrial unit in Driffield where all their pressing and bottling is done.

It is thought that there are only around half-a-
dozen commercial cider makers in Yorkshire, with a number of other people doing it on a much smaller scale as a development of their hobby.

Marc explained: “We were founded by a group of friends who became shareholders.We all chip in with the work, even though most of us have alternative jobs.

“It’s a labour of love but we are looking for that to change in the future.

“We’ve got ambitions to be the biggest cider maker in Yorkshire and at that point we will be able to start to employ people.”

There has been interest from America and Colemans is about to export to Spain for the first time shortly.

The company started when Marc bought a house with an orchard in Kilham

The company started when Marc bought a house with an orchard in Kilham

Getting stocked in supermarkets is not on the agenda, as the directors concentrate on independent traders.

They supply Beverley Folk Festival, Moonbeams Festival and Burton Agnes Jazz Festival, you can try it at Beverley’s independent cinema or pick up a bottle at a number of farm shops around the region or at the Marine Bar in Bridlington.

“It is a passion,” Marc said.

“We are passionate about sustainability, reducing food miles and giving people access to something they may have lost in recent years – tasting locally produced food and drink.

“People can’t believe apple juice made locally can taste so good.”

Cider is the fastest growing sector of the alcoholic drinks industry.

Twenty years ago, drinkers were limited to a choice of one leading national brand in a pub, if they were lucky.

These days, you can get mango cider, passion fruit cider and all sorts of exotic flavours.

Colemans started out with apple cider and then branched out. Marc said: “We have diversified into fruit ciders, using the same philosophy as apple ciders and only using local fruit.

“We have added rhubarb, sloes, pears, damsons – virtually any fruit can be made into cider.

“The only one we have tried which didn’t work was gooseberries.”

Colemans make three apple ciders – dry, medium and sweet – and they also make elderflower and rose flavours.

“It think it is going the same way as the craft beer revolution. People want to try new and different flavours much more than they did 20 years ago.

“The cider demographic is different to beer, it is more of a 50/50 split between men and women, rather than 80/20 and at beer festivals we see our ciders enjoyed by 18-year-old women and men who are in their 80s.”

Marc Cole

Marc Cole

Find out more at colemanscidercompany.com

Find out more at colemanscidercompany.com