Just before Fairtrade Fortnight, we left our Kenyan arabica coffee bean after it had just been sold under the hammer at an auction house in Nairobi. Bidding was frantic and a coffee exporter bought our bean along with another 19 tonnes of others that were then packed into hessian sacks and stuffed into a 20 foot container to be loaded onto a ship at Mombasa bound for the UK.
From Mombasa, our beans are shipped to Salalah in Oman. Here they are loaded onto a larger ‘mother’ ship – the length of four football pitches – that transports our bean to Rotterdam via the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal. There our container is loaded onto a smaller feeder vessel and shipped across the North Sea. The whole trip from Mombasa to Britain takes around 37 days, on average.
The captain of the ship sails into Teesport – one of the UK’s three largest ports on the coast, a few miles from Middlesbrough. This incredibly busy deep water port handles over 6,000 ships and 235,000 containers carrying over 35 million tonnes of cargo a year. Teesport is where we have a storage facility for our arabica and robusta coffee beans which come from Africa, the Caribbean, India, Indonesia and Central and South America. A few years ago, all our coffee used to arrive at southern ports such as Felixstowe and Tilbury, 250 miles away from Harrogate. By switching docking north to Teesport, we save around 100,000 road miles a year and can manage the flow of coffee to our factory more efficiently.
The very day our container lands, a sample of the coffee (containing our Arabica coffee bean) is whisked off on its 55-mile journey to our coffee buying team at our factory in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Here, a moisture reading is taken of our green beans, their appearance and colour are checked and we also roast and ‘cup’ (or taste) the coffee The coffee buyers compare it to the sample the exporter sent from Nairobi before it was shipped. If it has travelled well from Kenya, meets all our exacting quality terms on the contract and matches the pre-shipment sample, it’s finally made it.
What defines a great Kenyan bean is its bright citric acidity, liveliness and notes of honey and blackcurrant. If it’s got all these wonderful characteristics, it’s got what it takes to go into a pack of Taylors coffee.
So the next time you’re in a supermarket and putting one of our packs of coffee into your bag, be gentle. The coffee inside has been through an incredible journey just to make you a gorgeously rich cup of coffee. We’d be interested to know which Taylors coffee you’d travel to the ends of the earth for. Feel free to leave a comment below.