Coffee touches many lives. From the soil it grows in, the farmers, the pickers, the roasters, the sellers, the baristas and you, the consumer. In recent years, there has been a growing number of independent coffee companies selling hand-roasted coffee, enabling coffee drinkers to make coffee at home that tastes great and goes a long way to recreating a coffee shop-bought coffee.
UK-based social entrepreneur Andy Evans has always enjoyed coffee, and to be able to combine this with another passion of his, that is to “support projects that local people want to start in their own communities to make a difference”, meant that setting up Bean Capital Coffee was an inevitable and smart move. And so ethically-sourced coffee has become the natural resource that he exchanges to provide himself with an income, while also helping to make a difference to fellow social entrepreneurs.
Bean Capital Coffee, which started operating in May this year, donates 10% of its sales to social impact projects. The first project that Bean Capital Coffee is supporting is a social enterprise local to Bean Capital Coffee’s base in Milton Keynes, The Bus Shelter MK.
The Bus Shelter MK is a homeless shelter on wheels aimed at reducing rough sleeping in Milton Keynes. Open daily, The Bus Shelter provides homeless people with bunk beds, kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities, as well other support systems.
Andy Evans says “I want to support people that have got an idea but need funding and some kind of moral support too. As long as I’ve got a compelling product that appeals to people then that can be a great way of how I help fund projects.
“I want to show that there are different business models out there. It doesn’t always have to be about maximising profits – you can care about the environment, your suppliers and your customers and you can still make a profit.”
As his coffee business grows, Andy Evans also hopes to engage his customers in identifying social impact projects that could benefit from Bean Capital Coffee’s assistance. The new company also supports projects further afield – most noticeably the farms where their coffee comes from. As a “purpose-driven, for-profit company whose goal is to show that businesses can act responsibly and still make decent returns”, Bean Capital Coffee believes that farmers deserve a bigger share of the price that consumers pay for their coffee. The current market price pays farmers around 3-4p per cup of coffee sold in the UK. Bean Capital Coffee on the other hand ensure their farmer partners receive double that.
Bean Capital Coffee is able to double the price that farmers get thanks to a new transformational sourcing model, ShareTrade, which the company is aligned with. ShareTrade was developed by Big Rock Coffee Company in response to the on-going challenge of low prices facing many of the 25 million smallholder coffee farmers around the world.
The sourcing model – which was developed in partnership with coffee growers, agronomists, and Big Rock Coffee Company’s origin partner, Cafexport – supports farmers in operating and managing their farm as a proper business. ShareTrade provides access to professional advice and investment to ensure that the farm becomes economically viable, sustainable enterprises, whilst adopting environmental best practices.
The new model, which aims to become a new industry standard for ethical and sustainable coffee sourcing, goes far beyond the Fairtrade model. “Growing up I knew a bit about Fairtrade and I thought it sounded like a really good concept,” Andy Evans explains. “But over the years I’ve started to pick up some of the negative views around it. While it probably is good for the farmers it could be better.”
ShareTrade is a model that takes into consideration the present times, the current issues that coffee farms face and their needs essentially. By forging long-term relationships with each grower and making a plan to bring about transformation, ShareTrade are able to determine with each grower the “right” price for their coffee. This is significantly higher than the market price and reflects the quality of the coffee, a commitment to an equitable standard of living, and the cost of farm transformation.
Having a chat with the Bean capital coffee founder, it’s evident that Andy Evans has found individuals with ethical businesses that are aligned with his values to work with. While his search for a coffee roaster in the UK saw him connecting with roasteries in London’s Notting Hill and Hertfordshire, each with around 30 years and 100 years experience respectively, he finally settled on independent specialty coffee house, Chimney Fire Coffee.
What started life in 2016 as a one-man home-roasting operation in the shed in a back garden, Chimney Fire Coffee has since moved the roastery to a converted stables with a 15kg small-batch roaster in the Surrey Hills. Chimney Fire Coffee founder Dan Webber, whose background is in ethical coffee, introduced Andy Evans to ShareTrade.
Bean capital coffee’s signature blend, 519 Colombia ShareTrade, is a delightful Arabica coffee – full-bodied with delicate notes of pineapple, honey and berries. The coffee’s origins is the Los Nogales smallholding farm in Colombia, where coffee farmer Jorge lives with his wife and three children. Bean capital coffee’s website provides details of Jorge’s story and how a ShareTrade assisted “transformation plan” is helping the farmer to achieve his goal to be able to buy an additional hectare of land by 2023. It’s being able to trace the products you buy that makes companies like Bean capital coffee such an endearing choice when buying coffee to make at home, aside from the great taste.
As Andy Evans describes his journey of setting up Bean capital coffee and finding the right partnerships, the process sounds so fluid and natural. Four years in the making, he initially came at the business from the desire to create biodegradable Nespresso-compatible coffee capsules. “It’s been a long journey to get Bean Capital Coffee up and running really,” he says. “It’s been an idea in my head for a long time. It started off more on the Nespresso-compatible capsule side of things. But I realised that it’s taken me so long to get the company off the ground because that was a more complicated route to the market and I would have needed to invest a lot of money to fill those capsules.
“I kind of simplified the idea and brought it back to what we’re trying to do here – we’re trying to sell really good quality coffee, we’re trying to support social entrepreneurs in their local communities with projects, and we want to be a company that’s ethical on all fronts – so good for the environment, and good for the people that are growing the coffee.”
Bean Capital Coffee is available to buy online from their website
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com