Happy Bank Holiday Monday everyone!
It’s not only Star Wars Day today (May the 4th be with you…), but it is also the first day of UK Coffee Week, a nationwide fundraising initiative that supports coffee growing countries through the vibrancy of coffee culture. Coffee shops all over the UK will hold fundraising events for Project Waterfall, an initiative established to bring clean water and sanitation to coffee growing communities around the world. Head down to your nearest participating coffee shop and get involved for a good cause!
In honour of UK Coffee Week, I thought I’d write a column on the best places to buy sustainable, ethical and high-quality coffee for your office in a way that supports coffee growing communities and ensures that you enjoy #betterofficecoffee.
Where Should I Buy My Coffee Beans?
We are well on the road now to better office coffee. It occurred to me this week, though, that the quest is pointless without taking you right back to the beginning, and talking through where to find your coffee beans in the first place!
The first thing to say is that whole bean is best. The hard outer shell of a coffee bean is what keeps it fresh. It protects all the flavour and goodness inside from the harmful oxygen in the air.
So buying whole bean and grinding your coffee yourself is the best way to enjoy fresh coffee in the office.
There are a many options out there for offices looking to buy whole bean coffee. It all depends on your budget, taste preferences and how ethical you want the choice to be really.
There are a number of mail order coffee companies on the web who can deliver varying batch sizes of fresh coffee beans to your door. Most of them can tell you the origin, roasting date and shipping date of your coffee, for guaranteed freshness. PACT, for example, offer a monthly subscription, and allow you to choose from a range of world class coffee. They’ll even grind it for you according to how you brew your coffee. Has Bean Coffee allows you to choose the exact farm from which you want to source your coffee. They offer a range of subscription packages from £5.00 a month as well as brew guides and insights into their roasting process and growers.
Click on the icons below to start your subscriptions:
There are many other mail order coffee companies out there – The Love of Coffee, Coffee-Direct, Grumpy Mule and Real Coffee to name a few – but these two are the best for affordable, ethically-sourced coffee beans straight to your desk.
The way I like to buy my coffee beans is from my local speciality coffee shops and roasters. This way, I get to talk to the roaster or barista about the individual roast or blend and seek advice about the best way to enjoy it. By buying locally, you’ll get the chance to watch your coffee being roasted, and have it in your cup within hours of roasting – the optimum time!
Want to find the best coffee shops and roasteries near you? Visit Brian’s Coffee Spot, here.
Should I Buy Fair Trade?
Now, this is possibly an issue for its own column, but I will touch briefly on why buying fair trade might not be the ethical choice you first thought.Under fair trade rules, every coffee bean is treated the same. Bad coffee is mixed with good and farmers are paid the same base price regardless of how much love and dedication they have invested. I remember being shown a bag of fair trade green coffee before it was roasted once. It was awash with discoloured, poor quality beans, and the roaster was sick and tired of sub-standard beans.
Rather than being fair, the reality of fair trade is that a fixed price restricts freedom for the individual farmer and offers no incentive to focus on quality or innovation. In reality, fair trade guarantees that coffee farmers are still poor – but just equally poor.
“Without us committing to providing a reliable and appropriately priced market for the best quality coffees, we can’t expect farmers to go to the extra efforts and lengths that the production of that quality requires.”
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy fair trade coffee, but that you should try and buy it from an individual farmer, who can guarantee that their coffee is high-quality Arabica, produced sustainably and using organic methods. Organisations like Coffee CSA, a coffee cooperative owned and governed by the farmers, offer you the chance to buy great coffee direct from source and build meaningful relationships with individual farmers and small-scale coffee farms at the same time. Coffee CSA roast to order and deliver within a week. You can’t argue with that.
“Focusing on high quality and sustainable production of coffee is the only fair way to manage the coffee supply chain.”
The Office Coffee Company stocks a range of Cool Earth‘s sustainable, ethically sourced coffee that benefits producers and communities, whilst having a positive impact on the environment. Get rainforest alliance approved coffee delivered the very next day, and help indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction.
I hope now you’ll be able to make more informed choices when it comes to buying coffee for your office. You might have to spend a little more, but it’s worth it! Without great coffee beans, you can’t have great coffee – so be a little more discerning about where source your beans, and you’ll enjoy #betterofficecoffee, both for your palate and your conscience!
Where do you buy yours? Tell us in the comments section below…
Thanks for reading this week’s coffee column! Did you spend any time in coffee shops for UK Coffee Week this week? Well, next Monday, I’ll take a look at the creative benefits of working from a coffee shop once in a while… Join me, 10am next wee