We don’t need to tell you that some coffee is better than other coffee. In the same way you probably no longer drink the cheapest lager at your local pub (you know the ones), you can do better than instant. Even so-called barista instant. Don’t believe us? Check the can or jar. Chances are that on the side of that container in small print is a revelation that what you’re drinking is only about 5% ground coffee, which begs the question – what else is in there?
The alternative is much better. Across the UK there are fantastic independent roasters offering a wide array of beans and blends to suit your morning cup of Joe. Whether you’re after beans for grinding or just something to fill your cafetière, here’s a list of Ape’s favourite places to order from.
A brand built on the skills of one man in particular. Colonna owner Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood is a three-time UK Barista champion and his Bath-based coffee shop Colonna and Small’s is well worth a visit if you’re in the area. For those further afield a hand-picked selection of beans is available to order across four genres including Foundation, Discovery, Rare and Decaf. The beans in these ranges change according to season with something new to try roughly every six weeks.
La Plata, the brand’s current Foundation bean, makes for a delightful cup and Colonna’s top of the range offering is even compatible with Nespresso coffee machines.
West Sussex-based Craft House offers fully traceable and ethically-traded coffee, so you can sip guilt-free. Mail orders come postbox-sized, with recyclable bags and boxes, and the range on offer is fantastic. Subscriptions are available, including a coffee of the month, and you can feel safe in the knowledge that they only work with farms where employee welfare is a priority.
After multiple orders we’ve certainly got a soft spot for their Costa Rica Don Alfonso cafetière bags.
Characterful speciality coffee via Shropshire. With an ethos based around ethical-sourcing, sustainability and eco-conscious growers around the world, it’s no wonder Hundred House boast a long list of awards and accreditations. Supporting the arts through industry is also close to their heart, with the company allocating a portion of their profits to arts and design initiatives.
The Colombia Decaf is our personal favourite for tasty coffee moments without the caffeine shakes.
Londoners should know Origin well, with their British Library and Euston branches always proving to be a caffeine saviour in a part of the capital overrun by Costa outlets.
One of the oldest brands on the list, with 15 years of sourcing and roasting expertise, Origin are known for their affordable yet delicious coffee with an emphasis on paying producers at least 50% more than Fairtrade prices.
San Fermin is our go to when it comes to filter, but they also produce superb fully-recyclable aluminium decaf capsules.
One of London and the United Kingdom’s foremost roasters, Square Mile was set up by James Hoffmann and Anette Moldvaer in 2008, following on from the former’s success in the World Barista Championships in 2007.
Delicious coffee comes as standard with Square Mile and their larger 350g packs are also a welcome feature for those that are currently working from home. Subscription services are available – offering an array of filter and espresso beans on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis – but if you’re looking to dive straight in, opt for a bag of Kenyan Muchagara filter beans for a sweet and silky mouthfeel.
Kiss The Hippo
Relative newcomer Kiss The Hippo boasts a management team that includes the winner and runner-up of the 2020 UK Barista Championships. And for such a comparably young company, their design and eco credentials are admirable. Their Loring Smart Roaster uses 100% renewable energy, which means all of their coffees are roasted carbon neutral.
The offering is wonderfully mixed, with whole bean, cafetière, drip and espresso options. We’d certainly recommend the Colombia Maracay and Ethiopia Duromina bags.