Chris Norman Blog Post

Instagram is very good at recommending accounts to me that match my special interests. I should probably be concerned at how much the sentient social media ether knows about my love for craft beer, guitars, classic cars, Star Wars…and specialty coffee. But it means that I get to try out great stuff, so I’ll take it.

The algorithm reckoned I would be interested in specialty coffee that supports the LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent communities. As a neurodivergent person, coffee is both a special interest and part of my daily ritual. Something that grounds me (no pun intended) and is cemented into the routine that keeps me going. Anyone who knows me will know how upset I get when my familiar routine (including my coffee routine) gets disrupted, and it’s not because I’m addicted to caffeine – I stick to two coffees a day following a stroke in 2020.

No, I drink coffee because I just love it. It’s even riven deeply into my work routine: on the days when I’m in the office, I provide great coffee and several of my colleagues huddle around to get in on it (even the one who doesn’t even like coffee and just breathes in the aroma).

I can’t remember quite when my interest in specialty coffee started, but we have several magnificent coffee roasters and endless incredible independent coffee shops here in Nottingham, and so it’s not hard to find once you know it’s there. I am very sensory-seeking in some respects and so the broad spectrum of aromas and flavours from “proper” coffee – and the profound vibrancy of those flavours is one of the major attractions of it for me. It’s the same with craft beer, and (in a weirdly synaesthetic way) the deep, strange psychedelic and progressive music I frequently deep dive into. It’s just so rich and inviting.

So – Instagram recommending XO to me was fortuitous indeed. I love specialty coffee, I’m neurodivergent, and I’m also deeply entrenched in equality, diversity and inclusion, both as part of my work and my personal beliefs – so although I can scarcely identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, supporting it and doing my best to be an ally is phenomenally important to me. I have a very developed sense of natural justice (sometimes to a fault) and I’m keenly aware of my own freedom and privilege as a white, male, heterosexual, probably-middle-class individual, so seeing marginalised individuals or communities being subjected to prejudice and abuse is acutely painful. I want to do whatever I can to help.

There’s a lot of great coffee out there. One look at my Instagram profile (and countless others) will demonstrate this. Me and my boss (another specialty coffee enthusiast) have remarked recently that once you start on this stuff it becomes harder and harder to be impressed, as you’ve had some of the best coffee in the world and it’s hard to know where to go from there. But I’m sort of past that now – I know that it’smore than likely going to be amazing coffee, so I look outward at how a company’s ethos comes across. XO championing two communities that are very dear to my heart – and working tirelessly to ensure fair prices and treatment across the supply chain means I have no hesitation in throwing my cash in their direction. We’re in the middle of a needless cost-of-living crisis and specialty coffee is rightfullynot cheap, but this is important to me.

None of this is to imply that the coffee itself isn’t exceptional. It is. I will never forget cracking open the first bag of Golden Boys (single origin Ethiopian) I had from these folks. Like caramel and blackcurrant jam and golden syrup. I love a lighter roast - the more dark fruits (and sometimes even citrus) in there, the more boxes it’ll tick for me.

That’s what XO Coffee means to me and why I am proud to count myself as a fan and supporter. I’m not sure if I hijacked this hashtag when I started to use it, but… #drinkcoffeedogood.


Shop now

“What sets you apart can sometimes feel like a burden and it’s not. And a lot of the time, it’s what makes you great.”

Emma Stone