Ensuring coffee farmers receive a fair wage, supporting charities at origin and raising money for local communities – throughout the speciality scene, organisations are going the extra mile to help others.
We met some of the businesses in the South West and South Wales walking the walk.
AT ORIGIN Extract Coffee Roasters
You may have contemplated the barista’s handiwork when drinking quality coffee or even the skill of the local roaster who cooked up the beans, but how often have you considered the farmer who cultivated the coffee plant?
It’s something that the guys at Extract Coffee Roasters in Bristol think about daily, and which led them to partner up with Sol & Café, a workers’ cooperative in Peru.
‘Hopping between farms each year to drive down prices is not sustainable,’ explains Extract co-founder David Faulkner (pictured). ‘We believe in building long-term partnerships which support ongoing and stable growth for our coffee farmers.’
Teaming up with Sol & Café ensures that the farmers supplying Extract are paid a fair price (above the Fairtrade premium). It also provides them with the opportunity to increase the quality of their crops further, for which Extract pays additional incentives and rewards.
The cooperative supplies processing equipment, education and infrastructure which helps the farmers grow coffee of this exceptional quality.
‘Working in the cooperative has transformed the community,’ adds David. ‘Neighbouring farms are building strong relationships with each other, sharing knowledge and skills and forging a vital support network.’
After numerous visits, Extract is working with a group of 50 farmers who, in addition to being part of the cooperative, benefit from a seed fund which the Bristol roastery is building to support community projects.
AT THE ROASTERY Manumit Coffee Roasters
When pastor Dai Hankey was tasked with finding a new platform from which to raise awareness of human trafficking, his interest in speciality coffee inspired a lightbulb moment.
So, with the help of some of the region’s best roasters, Dai set up Manumit in South Wales to not only roast exceptional coffee but also to employ and train survivors of modern-day slavery.
Every penny of profit from the Cardiff-roasted coffee goes towards eradicating human trafficking and funding Manumit’s barista training programme. The latter, run with the Speciality Coffee Association (SCA), is designed to equip survivors with a skill set to utilise as they begin to rebuild their lives.
‘Sadly people often fall back into the industry and there’s a high rate of re-trafficking,’ explains Dai. ‘Coffee is an international phenomenon, and our hope is that the barista skills picked up at Manumit can help survivors to craft a new career – whether that’s in the UK or in their native country.’
Dai’s currently cooking up a seasonal house blend with the help of Martin and Eva, two survivors who have been developing skills at the roastery since the project launched in June 2017.
‘I’m learning just as much as the guys we’re supporting,‘ says Dai. ‘And the welcome from the coffee community has been exceptional – we wouldn’t be where we are now without their help and kindness.’
AT THE CAFE Square Peg Coffee House
For Matt Crome, founder of Square Peg, there were two ambitions driving the launch of his Swansea coffee house:
‘I’d noticed that there was a gap in society. There was nowhere where people could get together and engage with each other and feel part of a community. At the same time I was fed up with the awful coffee in Swansea and thought I may be able to do something about both,’ he explains.
Two years later the social enterprise is thriving, bringing people together for cracking coffee under one roof on Gower Road. All of the profits from the cafe are poured back into the community and fund local homeless charities and projects such as food banks.
It’s not just about money though. Square Peg also hosts social events and PegTalks which Matt launched to encourage locals to connect and share stories while discussing important issues ranging from biodiversity to refugees.
The team still find time to excel at speciality though: ‘My intention has always been that Square Peg will, first and foremost, be a great coffee shop,‘ says Matt. ‘It’s a competitive market and we still want to push boundaries in terms of coffee, food and service. We just happen to share our profits with those who need it more.’
Continuing to spread the good vibes, in 2017 a second Peg cafe opened down the road in Mumbles, which is also plunging its extra energy into good causes.
Feature from the South West and South Wales Independent Coffee Guide No 4 – buy your copy here.