Our speciality coffee - origins

Yesterday  I had the privilege of visiting our coffee roasters’ warehouse. Zach started his business in 2016 and has spent years networking and building relationships with coffee farmers in countries all over the world including Kenya, Colombia, Laos, and Brazil (and that’s only to name a few!).


I chose to work with Zach’s business because his values align with ours at XO. All our speciality coffee is ethically sourced (and not just fair-trade stamped; actually ethically sourced). Every single bean sold can be sourced back to the farmer, and there is a guarantee that every coffee grower is paid a fair wage for their labour and product. ‘Don’t Sugarcoat It’ is a speciality coffee produced by a social enterprise in Colombia, led by an inspiring woman named Ana Mustafa. Social enterprises economically benefit communities whilst also promoting positive social and environmental change. They are designed to be sustainable – they are focused on empowering individuals & groups through bottom-up development - which fosters independence and can work to lift disadvantaged communities out of poverty. Social enterprises are designed in a way that safeguards workers against dependence on the government or business stakeholders. This means that the risk of exploitation is minimised, and individuals are able to create independent, lasting businesses.


During the trip to the warehouse, i gained an understanding of every stage of the coffee growing and making process. The raw beans are harvested by farmers and shipped to the UK. Before roasting, the beans are green, damp, and have a distinct smell of unripe bananas. After roasting in the enormous roaster for between 9-12 minutes (roasting time depends on both the type of bean and the taste desired: for a fruitier, sweeter taste, the beans are roasted for a shorter period of time, for a darker, more bitter taste, the beans are roasted for longer). Once the coffee has roasted, it is left to rest for two days to maximise the flavour, before being ground, bagged, and labelled at the final station. It is a truly impressive system: all of this takes place inside of one small building.


Zach’s focus on sustainability drew me to his business. After roasting, the shells or ‘chaffs’ of the beans are removed. These are collected and donated to local beekeepers, who use them in their apiaries. The hessian sacks that the raw coffee is imported in are also donated to local allotments and farms, where they are used as composting bags. Minimal waste is produced during the process, and any that is unavoidable is soon repurposed.


I had an awesome day out and came home with lots of new coffee samples. Keep your eyes peeled – exciting new flavours coming!

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Emma Stone