A Rwandan Tradition


Our trainees spend a lot of time visiting the people who grow and supply our coffee and tea. We asked Becky, who travelled alongside fellow trainee Jamie, to write about some of her experiences. Here’s her second report.

Pictured on the right – Becky and Jamie digging in Karengera, Rwanda.

“During our visit to Rwanda, Jamie and I had the unexpected opportunity to take part in a very old and very special Rwandan tradition with some of our coffee farmers: Umuganda.

“In Rwanda, Umuganda means ‘coming together in common purpose’ and in traditional Rwandan culture community members would perform Umuganda to help their friends, family and neighbours with difficult tasks such as building houses.

“In an effort to reconstruct Rwandan society in the wake of the 1994 genocide, the Rwandan government drew on the idea of Umuganda to create a monthly national day of community building, where members come together to work to make their communities better.

“As everyone volunteers to take part on the last Saturday of every month, Jamie and I were no exception. We donned our hiking boots and headed out with Ignace Ntazinda, from our suppliers KZ Noir, to help dig a water channel near Karengera, on the shores of Lake Kivu.

“Many of the farmers who grow the delicious Rwandan coffee we buy were also there and lent us spades for the day so we could get stuck in. Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills, so mastering the climbs was tough work.

“But it was worth it, and we even got a special mention at the thank you meeting afterwards. It was great to spend time with some of our farmers working together on Umuganda. We’ll always remember it when we drink their coffee.”

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Smart Coffee Growing in Kenya

Our trainees spend a lot of time visiting the people who grow and supply our coffee and tea. We asked Becky, who’s travelling alongside fellow trainee Jamie, to write about some of her experiences. Here’s her first report.

Pictured on the right are coffee grower and retired maths teacher, Geoffrey Mwai Mbogu, and agronomist James Mugi.

“As part of my training in Taylors’ sourcing department, I recently set out on a trip to meet some of the suppliers who grow and produce the fantastic quality tea and coffee that is so important to us at Taylors. This week I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the Kenyan farmers who grow the bright citric coffee which is such an important part of some of our blends.

“One farmer I was really excited to meet was Geoffrey Mwai Mbogu, who grows coffee in Kirinyaga County in Central Kenya, and is a member of Mutira Co-operative. Geoffrey is a retired maths teacher who started growing coffee 11 years ago in order to help fund the education of his children, one of whom is now training to be a doctor. He owns 500 coffee trees, but also grows papayas, peppers and pineapples, as well as owning a cow and some chickens.

“What particularly impressed me about Geoffrey was his passion and commitment to growing the best possible quality coffee on his farm. As part of Mutira Co-operative he’s been working with James Mugi, the Cooperative’s agronomist and trainer, to introduce practices on his farm which will care for the environment while at the same time ensuring his coffee tastes even more delicious. This has included regular pruning of his coffee trees, planting shade trees so the coffee isn’t grown in full sun, and applying fertiliser at the optimum time of the year.

“Since working with James, Geoffrey has seen the quality of his coffee cherries rise dramatically, which at the same time has led to higher income, helping Geoffrey continue to support his family.

“It was very inspiring for me to meet farmers like Geoffrey across our supply chain in Kenya, and to see the work and commitment they put into growing such fantastic quality coffee for our blends.”

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Single Origin Coffee Capsules

Taylors Coffee Capsules

Our coffee capsules are now available to order from our online shop, or you can pick them up as part of your weekly shop at Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Tesco supermarkets.

Meet the new way to enjoy our coffee.

We’ve captured the definitive flavours of the world’s best growing regions, and packed them into a range of simple coffee capsules. They’re compatible with all Nespresso®* machines and stay fresh without any excess packaging.

Here’s a quick look at the range, but you can find out more at the Taylors Coffee Capsules online shop.

Taylors Kenya Heirloom Capsules

Kenya Heirloom

We call our Kenyan coffee capsules ‘Heirloom’ because they come from the country’s traditional varietals – some cultivated since the beginnings of the Kenyan coffee industry, others identified and catalogued in the years that followed.

Their taste profile typifies the flavours which have made Kenya, and much of East Africa, so famous for coffee growing – a lively, fruity quality, represented here by hints of blackcurrant and apricot jam, and fragrant, floral notes.

Taylors Colombia Huila Capsules

Colombia Huila

Colombia is divided into 32 ‘departments’, and the Huila Department lies in the southwest. It boasts the country’s highest volcano (the Nevado del Huila) and the source of its principal river, the Magdalena – and a particularly good reputation for the quality of its coffee.

That’s where we source the beans for our capsules, and their flavour profile demonstrates why Huila is considered one of the best growing regions in Colombia. A long roast softens their clean, lifting acidity into a mellow, elegant espresso, delivering delicate flavours of sweet lemon, gentle malts and a whisper of vanilla.

Taylors Brazil Yellow Bourbon Capsule

Brazil Yellow Bourbon

Brazil has been the world’s biggest coffee producer for 150 years. It has given Brazilian coffee a deserved reputation for being capable of producing consistently good quality coffee – and that quality and scale, plus a tendency towards beans with a deep, chocolatey flavour profile.

It’s the reason it provides the foundations for so many great blends – but the very finest Brazilian coffee deserves to be tasted on its own. The Yellow Bourbon varietal coffee in our capsules shines with a long, slow roast, developing notes of walnut and toffee and a touch of smokiness.

*Nespresso® is a registered trademark of Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. Taylors of Harrogate is not associated with Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. and that company has not manufactured or endorsed our products.

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Setting Standards

We put a lot of stock in acting responsibly.

Companies – especially those which trade internationally – have an environmental and ethical impact, whether they like it or not. So we have always tried to make sure that the impact we have is a positive one.

The reason we mention it is that we’ve just been named a ‘Sustainable Standard Setter’ by the Rainforest Alliance, for our commitment to being a globally responsible business.

For over 20 years The Rainforest Alliance has awarded those who they feel ‘champion sustainability efforts, protect the environment and support local communities worldwide’.

We’ve worked closely with the Rainforest Alliance for over five years now. The partnership has led to lots of positive changes in our supply chain, and it helps us to ensure a sustainable supply of the high quality coffee we need for the future. And thanks largely to our work with the Rainforest Alliance on the ground, all of our coffee is now independently certified.

Our sustainability manager, Simon Hotchkin, had this to say: “We are thrilled to have been recognised by the Rainforest Alliance as Sustainable Standard Setters.”

“It feels great to have been awarded for all the hard work that we have put into 100% certification and for our Planet Agenda projects that go above and beyond certification. Some of our most significant achievements have been accomplished in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance.”

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Beehives and rainwater

It’s time to share some more Taylors Grant Scheme updates – you can find out more about the scheme here.

Ipanema Coffee Farm, Brazil

Ipanema Coffee Farm, Brazil - eyes on animals

What has been achieved?
The event goal is to diversify and to expand activities in environmental education. Ipanema Coffees along with Ipanema Institute has been developing a project for the past three years to stimulate the curiosity and to create closer relationships between the residents, employees and the local fauna. The project has been ongoing for the last 3 years and has been going from strength to strength. The children will be continually educated about the animals that can be found in their local area with other events planned.

How much did we donate?

Who has benefited?
200 children across five public schools benefited from the project. This year, the children attended an event at the Ipanema Institute where an exhibition of all the materials that they had prepared was showcased. During the event there was competition to select the two best essays, with the winners receiving a kit with educational materials.

Ngere Tea Factory, Kenya

Kenya - Ngere water tanks 1

What has been achieved?
In partnership with the KTDA Foundation, we have provided six plastic water tanks for rainwater harvesting at six primary schools close to Ngere Tea Factory. In the Ngere area, schools have often had to make do with an unpredictable and scarce water supply which has posed health risks to school children who need adequate water for drinking and hygiene purposes. At the end of July this year the six tanks were installed. This project has supplied a means of providing a reliable and clean source of water to six schools. Jaki Mathaga, Manager of the KTDA Foundation, said: “The handing over of the water tanks to schools in Ngere was especially exciting as there were kids involved. You cannot imagine how good it feels to have clean water and from nearby.”

How much did we donate?
Over £1,900, which was match funded by the KTDA Foundation.

Who has benefited?
The water tanks will not only benefit students at all six schools immediately, but will provide safe and clean water for the schools for many years to come.

Gisovu Tea Factory, Rwanda

Rwanda - Gisovu honey 1

What has been achieved?
Gisovu have set up a honey project to provide employment for local people. The project aimed to take advantage of the excellent local flora around Gisovu, which provides the ideal conditions for honey production. The project has drawn on the expertise of Rwanda Honey Ltd, who have confirmed that the area has the potential to product the best honey in Rwanda. With the help of the grant from Taylors, and a match funded investment from Gisovu, the project enabled Gisovu to purchase 30 bee hives and the suits and equipment needed to manage them. The grant also funded five days of training from two qualified bee keepers on site, training workers and smallholders in bee keeping skills and management. So far, land has been prepared at Gisovu and the hives themselves were put in place in July 2014.

How much did we donate?
£2,000.  From here, the aim is for the project to become self funding through sales of honey.

Who has benefited?
Not only has the project developed a business which will generate local employment for local people, but following the introduction of the hives Gisovu aim to train local people in bee keeping and honey collection and production techniques, encouraging small tea smallholders to begin to produce their own honey, generating their own source of additional income.

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Growing trees – and computer skills

Each year, we invite the people who supply our coffee (and our tea) to apply for the Taylors Grant Scheme. It’s a way to fund social and environmental improvements on farms and co-operatives. Our supplier comes up with an idea, and we each fund half the cost – up to £2,000 in each case.

Last year, there were so many good ideas that we made the scope of grants scheme became quite a bit bigger – and we funded around 50 projects in total. They’re all now in progress or completed, so we thought we’d bring you up to date on a few of them.

Nandi Tea, Kenya

Kenya - Nandi classroom 2

What has been achieved?
Nandi Tea, one of our suppliers from West of the Rift Valley in Kenya, have constructed a classroom for grade one and two pupils on their site. Nandi Tea previously had an Early Childhood Development Centre on site which is managed by the factory, but the nearest primary school was located 8km away. Before this grant, young children in grade one and two (aged 6-8) had to make the journey to school mainly on foot along a busy main road. This resulted in many parents keeping their children at the Early Childhood Development Centre at Nandi Tea when they should have made the move to primary school, due to fears for their safety on this long walk.

How much did we donate?
Just over £2,100, which Nandi Tea are match funding themselves.

Who has benefited?
The two new classrooms which this grant has helped to build will mean that the children of the tea factory workers and others from the local community can continue their learning at the correct level for their age, without having to risk a dangerous journey to and from school. In 2014, 120 children will benefit from the new classrooms, with many more set to benefit in years to come. In early 2014 the foundations were laid for the new classrooms, which are now fully constructed.

How will this be maintained?
Nandi Tea have expressed their commitment to continuing to fund the construction of more classrooms, with a grade three classroom next on their list.

Eastern Outgrowers Trust, Malawi

Malawi - trees 1

What has been achieved?
With the help of a grant, Eastern Outgrowers Trust in Malawi have planted 50,000 indigenous tree seedlings

How much did we donate?
Just over £1,600.

Who has benefited?
The project aims to benefit the wider community through contributing towards the mitigating effects of climate change. In addition, the project will work directly with smallholder tea growers to plant trees on their own land.

How will the project be maintained?
Of the 50,000 tree seedlings which have been propogated, 20,000 will be planted on a 7 acre plot of land at Kangaza tea block close to the foot of Mulanje mountain, while the remaining 30,000 will be distributed to Eastern Outgrowers Trust farmers to be planted on their own land.

Sorwathe Tea Factory, Rwanda

Rwanda - Kinihira computers students

What has been achieved?
Through our grant we helped build a dedicated computer laboratory at Kinihira Secondary School, which is situated close to Sorwathe Tea Factory in Rwanda. Most children of the factory’s employees attend the school. Before Sorwathe applied to the Taylors Social and Environmental Support Grant Scheme 2013, the school had 500 students but only five computers, which were very old and not in good condition. Through this project, a new computer lab has been built, which has now been filled with computers and furniture.

How much did we donate?
£2,000 which Sorwathe match funded, as well as fundraising through other grants.

Who has benefited?
The laboratory was opened in April 2014 at a special ceremony involving students and the local community, and is now in use daily. All students at the school can use the lab to learn computer skills, and the lab will be available to students for many years in the future.

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Why the Rainforest Alliance matters to us

We embarked upon a huge project in Rwanda with FRICH and the Rainforest Alliance.

It’s the launch of Follow the Frog – the Rainforest Alliance’s annual celebration of certification and everything that entails.

All of our coffees are independently certified, and the vast majority come from farms certified by the Rainforest Alliance.

So we thought we should take a look at what RA certification means to us.

Our trainee commodities buyers Becky Mundy says: “Conducting business fairly in a way that has a positive effect on the world is at the heart of all our relationships with our tea and coffee suppliers, but isn’t something we can do on our own.

“Building a strong partnership with Rainforest Alliance has helped us to make a real difference on the ground quickly and effectively, working with our suppliers both to conserve biodiversity and to improve the livelihoods of the farmers we work with.

“Not only does this help us to fulfil our commitment to trading fairly and respectfully, it also enables us to ensure we maintain the highest standards of fantastic quality tea and coffee.”

At Taylors, we rely on our suppliers to grow consistently great quality coffee, so we work extremely hard to build long-lasting relationships with them, investing in their communities and their environment to help ensure both are thriving and resilient.

We pay fair, sustainable prices and a premium for quality and our buyers regularly visit the farms and co-operatives we buy from.

Certifications have a huge impact on improving social and environmental standards – so we’ve helped existing suppliers who weren’t Rainforest Alliance certified to work towards it, helping to reduce the environmental impact of each farm – from introducing natural water filtration schemes to improving worker safety, increasing pay and preventing soil erosion through better farming techniques.

Our belief in ethical, sustainable trade goes even further. Since 2009, we have been working alongside the Rainforest Alliance with FRICH, a UK Government Challenge Fund which works to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Africa.

Furthermore, our own grant scheme invites suppliers to apply for match funding towards projects which will benefit their communities – from classrooms and crèches to recycling and clean drinking water.

It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s something we’re really proud of. And we think it makes the coffee taste better.

You can find out more about the Rainforest Alliance here.

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10 Tips for Great Coffee

Do you know how to brew a great cup of coffee?

Of course you do!

How do we know that? Well, you’re currently reading the Taylors Coffee blog… which tells us that you’re browsing the Taylors Coffee website… which tells us that you’re interested in Taylors Coffee… which tells us that you have great taste.

In fact, you’re precisely the kind of person who would know how to make a cracking cup of coffee. We wouldn’t insult you by suggesting otherwise.

But have you ever wondered about the fine details? Ever pondered about the perfect brewing temperature, or the golden ratio of coffee grounds to water. Ever brewed it for a little bit longer to make a stronger coffee, then wondered if you might be missing out on an even tastier tactic?

Then have we got the video for you. With the help of Jamie and Jamie from our coffee team (all the best coffee companies have two Jamies) here are 10 quick tips for great coffee.

And you can view more of our lovely videos right here.

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Allez! Allez!

Allez Allez All Angles Visual

In just a couple of weeks, the biggest cycling event in the world will be heading to our doorstep.

This year, the Tour de France’s opening stages – Le Grand Départ – will be setting off from our Yorkshire. In fact, it’ll be heading almost right past our offices in Harrogate. We’ll be able to watch it from our windows.

To mark the occasion, we’ve made a special, limited edition coffee called “Allez! Allez!”. That’s it in the picture above. Pretty, eh?

We’ve created the blend to be as perfectly balanced as the riders. Brazilian beans give it rich, cocoa tones and beans from Latin America give it a peppy orange lift. The result is powerful yet nimble – a sublimely calibrated coffee.

You can pick up a pack from Tesco, Waitrose and Morrisons. We reckon it’s the perfect accompaniment to watching the Tour de France this year!

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Meet our Coffee Pop-up Rooms


Fancy a free coffee?

Clearly, the correct answer to that question is “yes”. Which is why we’ve buddied up with the delightful people at Stylist magazine to open a free coffee shop!

Now, even people with the most basic retail knowledge will be aware that offering your goods for zero money is not a sustainable business model. In fact, it’s complete madness. So our Coffee Pop-Up Rooms are going to be open for one week only.

If you’re near Covent Garden next week, you should come and say hello. From Monday, 26 May to Friday, 30 May, we’re taking up temporary residence on Floral Street.

Just bring a copy of Stylist or download the Stylist app to your tablet or smartphone to claim a free coffee – we’ll have smooth, organic Good Morning, exuberant Brasilia, flavour-packed Decaffé and fierce Hot Lava Java available throughout the day. And our lovely staff will be on hand to talk you through all our blends and flavours.

There’ll be a feast for the eyes too – along with Stylist’s pop art, we’ll be showcasing an exhibition of images from the renowned photographer Jonathan Gregson, taken on a trip to Rwanda with us. Plus there’ll be some delicious edible treats from Bad Brownie.

The pop-up will be open from 10am-6pm on the bank holiday Monday and 8am- 6pm for the remainder of the week.

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