My Passion: Hoyland on the grind
When he’s not playing rugby, fullback Damien Hoyland is on his grind – quite literally! A coffee nut through and through, we hear how he’s taken his passion for coffee to new heights alongside teammate Stuart McInally.
Damo your passion is quite clearly coffee, can you give us the back story of how you fell in love with making and now producing coffee?
I have always quite liked coffee. However, I only started becoming obsessed with it when I signed my first contract at Edinburgh. Any breaks in the day were filled with going out for coffees with the boys, or any days off you can guarantee we’d be out having coffee with each other.
However, my obsession started on the 28th November 2016 when me and a few of the boys attended a barista class at Brew Lab. Here we had a crack at steaming our own milk and attempting to make some latte art, and I was instantly hooked.
Within a few months I had purchased a decent coffee machine and I was constantly visiting the local coffee roasters ‘Mr Eion’ to get beans and to talk all things coffee. Every day I was learning something new about the coffee process, from the beans origin, to flavour notes and to learning more about different brew methods.
It has been an upwards spiral since then, and anyone who knows me, knows that I am now perhaps way too obsessed with coffee…
At what stage did you realise that coffee was something that you wanted to take ‘seriously’ as a passion away from rugby?
It was actually a good conversation I had with Rambo. We had both been talking about how the highs and lows of professional sport can take its toll on our mental wellbeing.
I was quite jealous that Rambo had his flying to keep him occupied outside of rugby, and he loved being able to switch off and focus on something else.
I was doing absolutely nothing outside of the sport and quickly became aware that I needed something else to help keep me motivated and focussed.
Coffee was the only thing that I was passionate about so it made sense to try and do something with that!
You started your own business Ruck Coffee with teammate Stuart McInally – can you talk about how that idea came about and how it’s progressed since?
It was from that conversation where we thought, OK let’s try and do something together with coffee (Rambo also was obsessed and passionate about coffee so we were a perfect fit).
We spoke with Eion Henderson (Mr Eion) about how we wanted to start distributing beans amongst the rugby guys and he was more than happy to help! He was an absolute legend and really supported our idea. It’s worth talking a little bit about Eion.
Ever since we started our venture, he has been so good to us, he’s the most passionate person about coffee I’ve ever met and he’s always been there to help us whenever we’ve needed it. He’s taught me pretty much everything that I know about coffee today!
So anyway, we gave Eion a rough insight in to what sort of coffee we’d like and he then roasted up different batches of beans for espresso and let us taste them. Once we had decided which coffee we liked most, we bagged them up and started distributing our very own first bags of Ruck & Co (now Ruck Coffee).
We have come a long way since we started back then, we started off only distributing to our friends and family, and now we have an e-commerce website which anyone can order our coffee from.
In what direction would you like to take Ruck Coffee and do you see it as a business you can really develop post-rugby?
I’ve always liked the idea of running a few coffee stalls, whether that’s on the street, at events or even rugby games. That’s where I can see this going, and I’d love to have a proper coffee shop one day!
Coffee is my passion outside of rugby, and I can’t imagine doing anything else other than to continue fulfilling this passion post-rugby! So, I will do everything I can to insure this happens.
How is it working with a teammate like Rambo and are you guys like-minded with regards to your love of coffee?
Rambo and I work really well together. We both have different strengths which complement one another quite well. Most importantly we both have that passion for coffee which makes life a bit easier.
Sadly, Rambo’s latte art is truly embarrassing, and if it doesn’t improve soon then I can’t see us working together much longer…
For fans who also love their coffee, what pieces of kit i.e. coffee-machines, coffee grinders, would you recommend them getting to further their own passions?
Good question! I think a really good entry level coffee machine is the ‘sage barista express’. You can get a really good coffee from that machine if you use it correctly! It’s the machine that most of the boys at the club have at home.
I really rate v60 coffee too. I think you can buy a v60 for less than five quid so that’s definitely worth a try. Having a good grinder is the most important thing. If you like filter coffee then the ‘Wilfa Svart’ grinder is one of the best out there, at a reasonable price too!
If you like espresso then the best grinder I can recommend is the Niche Zero, however they are not easy to get a hold of! My current set up is a La Marzocco Linea Mini and Niche Zero grinder. That part of the work top is my happy place!
Tell us one fact about coffee that regular joes might not know?
Fact - Brazil produces more coffee than any country in the world.
Tip - Always weigh your beans before you make your coffee! It provides consistency in your brew method and helps get the most out of your coffee. However, the boys always tell me to get lost when I recommend they do this…
How can supporters get behind or purchase Ruck Coffee?
They can keep up to date with what we’re up to on our social media platforms @ruckcoffeeedinburgh.
If anyone fancies trying our coffee then they can head over to our website www.ruckcoffee.com and get delicious beans!