Lockdown has brought with it many things, but one positive note I’m seeing is the care people are taking when choosing where to get their food and drink from. It’s a great opportunity right now to ditch the supermarket brands and support smaller businesses – all the while educating your palettes and bringing some of those heady memories of specialty coffee shops into your home…
But let’s go one step further. Let’s go local. I’ve compiled a list of my favourite coffee roasters from across the UK and Ireland, so you can make a decision based on how near they are to your home. Not only will you be supporting an independent business that is close to you, but you will be reducing your carbon footprint.
All roasters listed I’ve either tasted their beans, or been recommended by my inner circle of Coffee Snobs. Of course there are so many other roasters and regions I haven’t touched upon, so if there is something you’d love to see on the list, get in touch.
Take care and drink coffee,
The Snob x
THE SOUTH WEST
Yallah Coffee Roasters, Falmouth
You may have seen them featured in a recent Guardian article about how this company brought a wind-powered schooner from Colombia to Falmouth full of sustainable coffee beans, making them one of very few companies to produce almost entirely carbon neutral coffee. This is just one of the many impressive things Yallah is doing and I can assure you, the taste of the coffee matches their ambition and commitment to sustainability. Click here for the full article.
Origin Coffee, Helston
I’ve been a fan of Origin for as long as I remember. Producing top quality coffee for years, they’ve put Cornwall firmly on the map in not only the UK coffee scene, but the world coffee scene. If you’ve been to one of their cafes in Cornwall or London, you’ll know what impeccable standards they keep. Buy from here if you want assured deliciousness from the experts. Use the code COFFEE20 for 20% off.
Hands-On Coffee, Redruth
I first came across this company when they were serving their beans at Tubestation in Polzeath. Delicious blends, roasted right in Cornwall. They roast their beans in small batches to ensure utmost freshness and taste.
Little Stone Coffee, Exeter
I came to know this company at the South West Coffee Festival when they had just started out. A grassroots family company in Exeter, the small team care about the coffee and their customers. Anchored with impressive ethics, buy from here for award-winning, guilt-free coffee. Swiss water decaf available.
Roundhill Roastery, Radstock
When I first tasted their coffee it left a lasting impression. Supplying coffee to some top coffee shops in the UK (including Exploding Bakery, Exeter), they’re a fantastic bet for a truly local company with sterling results.
Colonna Coffee, Bath
The scientific coffee experts. Colonna produce some of the finest coffee this country has to offer. Choose from Genre 1 (Foundation), Genre 2 (Discovery) or Genre 3 (Rare), depending on how rare and complex you like your coffee. Buying from here is an education, as well as a taste sensation (please forgive the rhyme.) Also one of the best bets for coffee pods. Free UK delivery.
Bad Hand Coffee, Bournemouth
The brilliant South Coast Roast uses Bad Hand Coffee and it’s not hard to see why. Their blends are delicious and their ethical/sustainable standards are second to none. They call it ‘planet saving coffee’: every bag of coffee donates £2 to a chosen charity or not-for-profit. If you live locally they’ll drop your coffee off by bike. I don’t say it often but listen: I really like this company. Use the code WASHYOURHANDS for 19% off bags of coffee. Swiss water decaf available.
Extract Coffee, Bristol
I came across Extract Coffee when they were a guest blend at The Coffee Dispensary, Cheltenham. The team really care – they’ve even given their roasters names (my favourite is Betty). Get yourself impeccable coffee from a company that sits right in the heart of Bristol. (I can personally vouch for the Dr Strangelove espresso blend. Smooth and moreish.) Free UK delivery.
Rave Coffee, Cirencester
I first learned of Rave Coffee when trying a blend of theirs at Bogota Coffee in Milton Keynes. A small company that cares, with compostable coffee pods available. Balanced, expertly roasted – you can’t go wrong getting a bag from here. 15% first order if you sign up to their mailing list. Swiss Water decaf available. Free UK delivery on orders over £25.
THE SOUTH EAST and EAST
Coffee Mongers, Lymington
This has been recommended to me by my nearest fellow Coffee Snob, Josh, who has been surviving on Coffee Mongers since the start of lockdown. Founders Brooke and Tarek translated their love of coffee into Coffee Mongers 5 years ago, and have now put the New Forest firmly on the map as a coffee destination. A small company with heart, they are big on building their local coffee community. Get involved. Free UK delivery.
The Roasting Party, Winchester
I came across The Roasting Party when it was served at Coffee Addict (a favourite haunt in London Victoria). Outstanding coffee from a company with flair and authenticity. Opt for The Party for a full bodied balanced blend, or Drake for a little more bite.
Horsham Coffee Roaster, Horsham
From the humble beginnings of selling coffee at the Horsham Food Market, Horsham Coffee Roaster remains a team of 5 but their reach has catapulted in 8 years of business. I tried their beans at Bond Street Coffee in Brighton and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Well worth trying their ‘tasting selection’ – 5 varied blends in 100g bags. Get your beans from the experts in taste. 15% off your first order; free UK delivery on orders over £15.
Garage Coffee, Hoath (near Canterbury)
I visited Garage Coffee’s flagship coffee shop when I was in the area and it’s a proper find. Interiors so authentic, the company’s individualism strikes a welcoming chord. Their roastery is in the village of Hoath, just outside Canterbury. Roasting in small batches, these beans are seriously good. Free UK delivery on orders over £15.
Jericho Coffee Traders, Oxford
Led by an amazing couple, James and Lizzie, who started the business out of the back of a three wheeled piaggio ape, they have been firmly part of of the Oxford community since the beginning. Now they have their very own cafe/roastery and espresso bar on Oxford’s High Street – you can be assured buying from here you’re supporting a business with community and heart at its core. If you’re in Oxford, beans will be delivered by bike.
Missing Bean, Oxford
After starting out as one of Oxford’s leading coffee shops, they decided to start roasting their own beans a few years later. I tried their coffee at Corner Coffee, Cardiff and it’s delicious. You can’t go wrong with beans from here.
Strangers Coffee, Norwich
I visited their cafe in Pottergate a few years ago and it’s remained in my mind ever since. Delicious coffee, a warm atmosphere, with their roastery just a stone’s throw away in the heart of Norwich. This is a company that will deliver truly excellent coffee time and again, and if you’re a resident of Norwich I’m slightly envious – I compel you to buy a bag today.
Bould Brothers, Cambridge
Featured in Vogue, Vanity fair and GQ, Bould Brothers is Cambridge’s worst kept secret. Their coffee is extraordinary and I urge you all to try it. Have a read on my write up on it when I visited last year. Founded by two brothers, this place screams quality, authenticity and expertise. Have a look at their instagram page for great tips on making coffee at home during lockdown.
Caravan Coffee Roasters, Islington
Caravan is big on flavour and balance. Every time I have a coffee of theirs – be it in one of their cafes or brewing it at home – it is excellent. The balance they achieve in each of their blends is outstanding. Their decaf was my favourite when taste-testing for a recent article, and I can also recommend their Businde Natural Espresso. A personal favourite.
Monmouth Coffee Company, Bermondsey
The coffee roaster that needs no introduction. Setting the bar high since 1978, Monmouth forged the specialty coffee path that so many others now tread. Over 40 years on and they are still at the top of their game. Treat yourself to a bag from the undisputed experts. Go for the original Monmouth Espresso for a balanced, smooth blend.
Assembly Coffee, Brixton
An impeccable Brixton based roastery that seems to turn everything into gold. One of my favourite London coffee shops, Lundenwic, serves their beans and I can attest – after filling out many a loyalty card – every cup was outstanding. Go for the Assembly House Espresso Blend – it’s been developed in collaboration with baristas and cafe owners from some of the best UK coffee shops to ensure it is a crowd pleaser for all. Free shipping on orders £20 and over.
Square Mile, Blackhorse Lane
With coffee connoisseur James Hoffman at the helm, this company has been a pioneering force in the 3rd wave specialty coffee movement. Time and again I see Square Mile served in fantastic coffee shops up and down the country – it truly is one for the coffee snobs and suits a range of tastes. Catch on with the craze by ordering a bag today.
The Gentlemen Baristas, Whitechapel
If you haven’t been watching head roaster Antonio’s videos on their instagram page, you’ve a massive treat ahead. The best of the best, Gentlemen Baristas is one of my favourite coffee roasters in the country, so generous they are with their skills sharing and their ability to realise coffee perfection with each blend they make (the packaging too is a personal favourite). Their decaf (The Pretender) is one of the best around, and if you’re after a caffeinated blend, give The Racer a go.
Kiss the Hippo, Richmond
If you’ve read the write up I did on this company you’ll know I’m a fan. With their flagship store and roastery based in the heart of Richmond, this is a relatively new company with sustainable practices I’ve yet to see elsewhere. Exquisite beans from one of the most exciting and ethical roasters in the country. Free UK delivery.
I’ve come across this company a fair few times, the most recent being Meet Me In the Morning in Dublin. Its popularity in coffee shops tells you everything you need to know: it’s chosen time and again by experienced baristas, and suits a variety of tastes amongst customers. Shop here if you want an assured crowd pleaser. Get their Coffee Pack for 4 different bags of blends – perfect for working out what you like.
Monsoon Estates, Stratford upon Avon
A family run company, Monsoon Estates began out of the love a couple had for good coffee. Their multi award-winning beans are roasted in a beautiful converted barn just outside Stratford upon Avon. A small team with real passion, creating great taste and quality. Swiss water decaf available.
Yorks Cafe and Coffee Roasters, Birmingham
I visited Yorks nearly every day for a week when I was in the area and it’s one of the best atmospheres you could hope to come across in a cafe. Luckily for us they’ve just started selling their coffee online, so you can have the Yorks experience at home. Try their Yorks At Home selection box if you’d like to try a range of coffees. Any purchase you make will help go towards their Staff Fund which they’ve set up to support their staff throughout the corona virus outbreak. Great coffee, and a great business. Support if you’re local. Free shipping on your first purchase.
Hereford and Worcester:
Method Coffee Roasters, Worcester
Based in the heart of Worcester, Method roast their beans in their popular roastery cafe. I came across their coffee in Ginger and Co. in Shrewsbury – it’s big on quality, with great ethics and sustainable practices. Go for their signature espresso, The Hay, for a rounded, well-balanced blend that goes well with milk, or the ChuCho blend for something a bit different.
James Gourmet Coffee, Ross-on-Wye
I came across this company when it was served at Mac and Jac’s, and I can’t remember a time I gorged on coffee so much. Moreish and totally delicious, James Gourmet Coffee is a small family run business, roasting beans for over 20 years. They don’t run a cafe and they tend to serve the Food Service Trade, so get your bag from here for coffee chosen by professionals.
Coffee Wanchors, Roxby, Scunthorpe
Run by cousins, Mel and Jodie, this company is big on flavour and big on laughter. Buying your beans from here makes you a ‘certified coffee wanchor’ and their blends are as delectable as they sound. Ranging from Chocolate Truffle Shuffle to Captain Caramel, be prepared to have your tastebuds enlightened and your sense of humour sparked. Read the full interview with the Snob here.
The Coffee Counter, Leicester
Having put Leicester firmly on the coffee map with their original roastery cafe in the town centre, Coffee Counter’s quick success has had them branching out to a nearby warehouse to roast their beans. Being served as a guest blend at the likes of Bold Street Coffee, Liverpool, the quality of their beans speak for themselves. Try their latest blend, Lockdown Edition, for notes of apricot, fit and clotted cream. 20% off orders over £25 with the code COVID19.
Coaltown Coffee, Ammanford
Based in the small town Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, Coaltown Coffee pays tribute to the town’s mining past, whilst looking to a future where coffee is at the heart of a new thriving local industry. They run an academy to educate and open up career paths for the local community and it’s their mission to bring down unemployment in the area since the last of the collieries closed in 2003. If you want to support a company that cares, this is your place. Worth a particular look at their Signature Trio Gift Box which has three of their favourite espresso blends in.
Welsh Coffee Company, Reynoldston
Based right by the sea in the beautiful Gower, this company is big on taste and is passionate about bringing some of the world’s best coffee to their Welsh doorstep. Go for the Aur/Gold blend if you want a balanced, smooth, award-winning coffee.
Quantum Coffee Roasters have a coffee house right by Cardiff Bay station and you can get the myriad of their different single origins at home. Go for Tiger Bay Espresso if you want their signature espresso blend – an all round crowd pleaser likely to suit a variety of tastes. Free delivery on orders over £35; free delivery on all subscriptions.
THE NORTH WEST and NORTH EAST
92 Degrees, Liverpool
With an impressive ethical core, 92 degrees has as much personality as it does flavour. Across their three cafes in Liverpool and another in Southport, they put on nights of live music, poetry, and feature art from local artists; you’re buying into a local movement when you get your beans from here. Find your perfect beans by taking their coffee recommendation quiz (it’s lots of fun), or fast track to their Hope Street Blend for a beautiful, moreish cup. A brilliant, responsible and innovative company that’s well worth a look.
Ancoats Coffee Co., Manchester
Ancoats is often served at some of my favourite coffee shops up and down the country (including Corner Coffee and Bond Street Coffee) and it’s easy to see why. Every blend I’ve tried has been packed with flavour, smooth and easy-drinking. With impressive environmental responsibilities, you’ll be getting superb coffee with no guilt. Go for their Warehouse City Espresso for a full bodied, versatile blend.
Red Bank Coffee Roasters, Coniston (Lake District)
Set up in the Lake District in 2007, this is run by a passionate team of coffee lovers. Glittering with awards, at the heart of this company are great ethics and a deep love of coffee. Go for Brazilian Penny Rock for an award-winning, full bodied blend. A true grass roots company with an impeccable selection of blends.
Pink Lane Coffee, Newcastle
With iconic arty coffee bags, Pink Lane Coffee produces outstanding coffee right in the centre of Newcastle. Go for the Brazilian Sitio Bateia for a smooth blend, or the Kenyan Mutero AB for a more sweet and acidic finish.
Rounton Coffee, Northallerton
With roots in Indonesia when Dave the founder started working alongside Sumatran coffee farmers, this company takes transparency and traceability to a whole new level. Opt for the Aeropress gift box if you’re taking this whole lockdown coffee thing seriously… An enviable selection of blends to suit all tastes. Free delivery when you spend £15.
La Bottega Milanese, Leeds
I can’t talk un-sentimentally about this place. This is my original favourite coffee shop in England. It’s authentic, it captures the class and taste of Milanese cafe culture, and time and time again I not only return to this place, but order their beans online. Do the same now. La Classica coffee is their crowning jewel.
Papercup, West End
I first tried Papercup coffee at the Velocity Cafe (Inverness) and I still remember it. Having just been SALSA certified (Safe and Local Supplier Approved) for their roastery, this company just keeps going up and up in my book. Forged in Glasgow’s West End, take a trip if you’re local.
Canary Girl, Southside
Named after the founder’s great-grandmother who was a ‘canary girl’ in WW2, this company is all about using their platform to ‘celebrate those who didn’t make the history books’. From women to minority groups, this ideology extends into their coffee making, by having traceability at every stage of the process – celebrating the farmers, pickers, producers and exporters, rather than just the barista who makes your latte art. When it comes to supporting a coffee roaster that wants to do good, I think this is your place. Head to their instagram page for visual treats.
With another cafe in Stirling, you’ll find the heart of Unorthodox in Kinross where the roastery is situated right next to the flagship cafe. A great range of blends to choose from (go for the Mischief Maker if your taste buds are anything like mine) and also a fine selection of teas too. Worth a look particularly for gifting – from coffee merchandise (it’s like Kinto heaven) to the Roaster Selection, it provides coffee-related inspiration in abundance.
Having opened a second cafe in Edinburgh just before lockdown, Fortitude is a favourite amongst local coffee snobs. Treat yourself to one of their exceptional blends – I’ve got my eye on the Fazenda Cetec.
Root and Branch, Belfast
The best of the best in Belfast and the first to introduce coffee in a beer can – the bio bags they were using were only industrially compostable, and this wasn’t good enough for this inspiring company. As well as being environmentally friendly, the cans reduce the oxidisation of coffee which happens in valve bags – and also look great at the same time. With a host of cafes around Belfast city centre I can attest this place is world class, and their beans are definitely worth a look. Opt for the Brazilian Telma Machado for a creamy, chocolatey taste or the Ethiopian Chelebesa #1 for a light, floral/fruity complexity. (Read about their cans here.)
You will have seen Bailies beans served in some of your favourite places throughout the country (including Dalloway Terrace, London) and this is no coincidence. Housing some of the best single origins and blends I’ve tasted, Bailies is a great shout is you’re after something new. They also have a great merchandise section – treat yourself with a visit to their website…
Carrow Coffee Roasters, Sligo
A small, family run company based in Sligo, I came across Carrow Coffee at the World of Coffee in Berlin last year. They are a relatively new coffee company, but after tasting their beans and speaking with them, it’s clear they’re here to stay. If you want to gawp at a beautifully designed building ‘perched on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and circled by ancient forests and Neolithic sites’ I would recommend a visit to their website. I couldn’t recommend Carrow Coffee more – for quality, ethics, sustainability and approach.
Java Republic, Dublin
A household name in Ireland and beyond, these guys are the pioneers of the specialty coffee scene in Southern Ireland – read all about in my feature when I visited them last year. Providing coffee to over 1,200 venues and with an estimated 10,000 people enjoying their beans every day, you can’t go wrong getting your beans from this carbon neutral company. Opt for the Mestizo for a rounded clean finish.