Coates is a family business based in the heart of the Somerset countryside near Taunton. Willow has been grown commercially in this area since the 1800's. The Coate family has been involved with this crop since 1819, and developed the production of artist charcoal in the 1960's. At this time the traditional use for willow, basketmaking, was in severe decline following the increasing use of plastics in the 1950's. If willow cultivation was to continue as part of the family business into the future it was essential to find a new use for the willow.