A Suffolk based coffee shop which streamlined its coffee supply chain with their Kenyan supplier has brewed up benefits for both sides.
With a coffee supply chain that is both long, complicated and full of people taking their cut of the farmer’s hard work, a Suffolk business with cafés in Bury St Edmonds and Hadleigh had a bold idea to cut out the middle-men and conglomerates to shorten the distance between coffee grower and coffee drinker.
Driven by a desire to find a coffee farm to strike up a direct trade deal with, the founders of Paddy and Scott’s began their search in 2015. we had no idea of the journey we were about to embark upon.
“We knew we wanted to work closer with our green coffee supplier and cut out some of the middle men we had to deal with. We wanted to create an agreement which worked for everyone and, more than anything, we wanted to know the names of the people growing our coffee,” CEO Scott Russell explains.
In 2016, their search bore fruit as they took on their very own Kenyan coffee farm in Meru. Working closely with the Muchomba family, they have created a unique project which has revolutionised how coffee is traded and gives more back to the families working hard to grow the coffee.
Through their close collaboration, the Meru Farm has become the second home of Paddy and Scott’s and this relationship has made it possible for the company to invest in the farm infrastructure and work with local schools to ensure sustainable change for the coffee growing community.
The company believed that the only real way to help the coffee families and the wider community was to go straight to the source and pay more for the raw product. So they began to cut out the middle men and went straight to the farm itself which is situated 300 kilometres north of Nairobi in the shade of the eastern side of Mount Kenya.
“In order to cut out the middle men we have had to build George (Muchomba) his very own coffee processing equipment on his farm. So alien was this in Kenya that there were no plans to work from – coffee processing has never been done this small-scale before. Yet this is how we ensure the quality of the coffee; this is how we can be sure to trade just with George and offer him a good price for his harvest,” Scott said.
Paddy and Scott’s built a model farm with shared facilities that can be used by local communities who rely on the coffee for their existence. The farm is a little over 15 acres in size, consisting of approximately 6,600 trees, with each coffee cherry picked by hand between April and July.
During harvest time, the farm employs dozens of local workers who pick and carry the cherries to the pulping station on the farm. The parchment is then washed and sun dried on long drying tables.
Proceeds from the Meru Community Project have also provided much needed investment for the Ruiga Day Secondary School which is attended by many of the farm workers’ children. There was no running water, toilets or even glass in the windows, so while building a new pulping station, they extended this water supply to the school, installed new water storage tanks and built a new brick toilet block with washing facilities.
When the processing is complete the beans are shipped straight to the UK for roasting.
In addition, a model working farm was created on the school grounds to teach the children modern coffee farming methods. The proceeds from the sale of this coffee will provide additional places for parents who cannot afford to send their children to school.