Brexit hangover

Price, nobody likes it when prices go up (apart from the person who benefits), but what if no one is benefiting?

Normally there’s a winner somewhere, coffee producers raising the money they charge, roasters wanting to make more money, costs rising so some other sector is getting more money (packaging, shipping, fertilisers etc). But this time, it’s the result of a vote 4 months ago that we’re now having to react to.

After the crazy party of a referendum we all woke up with a bit of a political hangover and to a new world, I think something that was missed is the new face of consumerism. On Friday, June 24th we saw what the markets thought of our decision, the stock markets and the currency markets both plummeted. The stock markets quickly recovered and we’re seeing record highs in the FTSE 100 and other measurements, but currency remains at record lows. When I first started to understand buying coffee in dollars I remember the £ being worth around $2 as my mental marker. Easy conversion times. Even before Brexit we had seen big changes in this, and previous visits to $1.35 to £1.00 were scary and horrible. Today the mid-price for the $-£ sits at 1.2276 (the new most opened app on my phone is XE) and record lows are reported every day, and just when you think it’s bottomed out ($1.29 was my guess) you see more and more drops.

What does this mean? Well, all our coffee is bought in USD/$. Part of my job as a green buyer is also to hedge against the dollar (this means buying dollars when I think the price is good or to protect from huge market swings). Before Brexit, I spent a couple of days reading about what the outcomes might be from different votes (yes my life is this interesting) and worked out some scenarios. I think it’s fair to say that no one really knew what might happen, as there is no precedent for such a huge vote, but you can take a stab in the dark. If we take ourselves back to Wednesday, June 22nd the day before the vote, all things pointed to a remain vote being most likely. The forecasted reaction to this would be a small jump up to $1.50 to £-ish and some stability back in the UK markets. The case for leave meant some uncertainty and a drop, but a drop some people had at $1.10 – $1.20 others more $1.30 – $ 1.40. I had to make a decision that day to buy some $ and think we might leave and protect myself from this change, or ride it out expect a remain vote and see a chance to sell some dollars at a slightly higher price.

My decision was to do nothing, sit tight, didn’t have anything arriving for the next 4-6 weeks and see what happened. Well, what happened was well documented (I think we will all know where we were when we heard the result), and was the biggest loss on currency and some of the lowest exchange rates on record. What also has happened is that I’ve become a currency junkie, constantly checking for small changes in the $-£.

On that morning some importers who had already bought coffee raised their prices because of the swing, I even heard of some roasters doing the same. To me, this seems crazy for coffee that’s in store and had already been paid for at the older (much juicier) exchange rate, and also a little opportunistic. We didn’t, we sat and we waited and we watched, and that’s been the last 4 months, waiting and watching.

In that four months we had to buy some dollars, some big purchases, some smaller hedging ones to try and buy when I thought the market was good, and selling when I could see an upward swing. But since Brexit I’ve bought around $400,000.00 of currency to buy coffee. $400,000.00 today will cost you around £325,865.58 but back on June 22nd that same $400,000.00 would have cost £268,456.38, a difference of £57,409.20.

Let me take a moment to say that figure again, £57,409.20. That’s £57,409.20 that didn’t go to the farmer, £57,409.20 that didn’t go into my pocket, it just disappeared in currency exchange. It’s sad, really really sad.

What does this mean for Has Bean? Well, it means that our prices are going to have to go up. Not right now, but on new coffees as they come in, you will see some of our prices rising, and as we start to use these coffees in blends, their prices will rise too. This will also have a knock-on effect on subscriptions too, it’s something we’re going to have to address, but we’re riding it for as long as we can, waiting for the market to settle, and seeing what we can do to offset it as much as possible.

Don’t think coffee is the only thing that’s going to get more expensive. Many things are bought in dollars, oil typically bought in $ will increases at the pump, a low barrel price is keeping this under control for now, but pre-Brexit this would have been much cheaper at the pump and prices we’re seeing now are 15-20% higher than we would have expected at previous currency rates. Currency effects so much of what we consume, the scary one on the news this morning was wine from Australia.

So, what’s the future? Well, I wish I knew. Good trading results and unexpected news post-Brexit are making the pound actually better than it could have been. The UK economy has not taken the dive that many predicted so maybe we should be happy at $1.22.

But the market remains volatile. Something as simple as a speech can have an effect on market confidence. In the recent conservative conference every time our prime minister spoke, the £ plunged with talk of hard Brexit and dates of March being set for invoking article 50 to leave the European Union. This isn’t a political statement by me, more a sign of the fragility of the market and the confidence it has in a post-EU world, and something we will have to prepare for.

I wanted to warn you about what was coming, and let you know that this is not a roaster getting greedy, or a farmer making deserved coin, but we will be looking at our pricing as we go, and keeping it under constant review. We won’t be the only ones doing this so expect coffee to get more expensive, but sadly not for the right reasons. We live in uncertain times, but one thing remains, life is too short for bad coffee.

A Bolivia monologue 

A few weeks back I was lucky enough to spend some time in Bolivia. Bolivia has become one of my favourite country’s in the world to visit, and in fact was my 10th time in ten years.

No where in the world is like Bolivia, the landscape, the people and the unique issues surrounding coffee production and export.

Whilst there I recorded a little piece on it for Tamper Tantrum (a podcast between myself, Colin Harmon and Jenn Ruglow aimed at the coffee industry) which was a monologue on the trip and the future of Bolivian coffee. Its been a few weeks since I recorded and released it, but remembered this week I forgot to really talk about it here, so I thought I’d embed it below I hope you enjoy it.

A video of me

I know the internet has far too many videos of me and far too few of kittens and puppies, but most of them have been made by me. This time some one else made a video with me in, so its new and noteworthy and I’m going to share it with you.


Liam from Bean Label ask’s me lots of questions about how has bean started, growing up, in my mug, wine blogs and politics, all lots of fun, and hopefully a good watch.


You should check some of this other videos out here too 

selling coffee to businesses

Its rare for me to do this, but this post is purely an industry post for our customers who are independent coffee shops. I know lots who read here are home users, and I promise a blog post for you in the near future, but for just this once let me indulge myself to my industry friends.

It’s our goal to offer our customers, wholesale and retail, the biggest variety of quality coffee available anywhere in the world – that sounds tough and it is!

When I visit origin on buying trips I’m working with our producers to secure multiple small lots, with subtle and huge differences in the cup that reflect the diversity that coffee can deliver and to do that I need to be able to promise I’ll buy a good amount of coffee, and pay a good price for it so that makes the extra separation and work worthwhile, and I need to be able to find the market for all these weird and wonderful cups. Over the last 12 months we’ve offered our customers around 160 different lots, from over 60 different farms and producers and sold over 3000 sacks of mind-blowing specialty coffees.

Running a business with different customer types helps us do this – Long term fans of coffees like Cachoeria or Finca Argentina, who clamour for it when it runs out – along with those wholesale accounts who buy Jailbreak or serve the single origin espresso they love as it comes around each year help us build scale to move containers and invest in our producers long term efforts, coffee geeks and businesses offering tasting menus are always after new things and reward the innovation and growth those partners then make happen – because of this we’ve always invested in supporting all these types of customer differently – with product choices for retail customers like subscriptions that offer choice and blends that offer stability and investing in highly skilled staff that provide free training and support for businesses serving our coffee to customers across bars, however they prefer to do it.

For a long time the costs incurred in supporting our wholesale customers this way, and our need to develop the scale that enables buying power to support our goal of variety and choice for all our customers, meant that we tied our wholesale pricing to the commitment to buy that our wholesale customers gave – We offered discounted pricing in return for a commitment that all the coffee those businesses served came form us. Over the last few years, as specialty coffee has exploded, with new roasters and cafes popping up everywhere that business model has been challenged by the rise of the multi-roaster cafe.

It’s taken us a long time to work out how we react to this change without compromising our business, the service we offer our exclusive customers and the way we manage our pricing to keep it approachable for all our customers – The concept of the multi-roaster cafe is truly disruptive in all the business-speak and very real ways and over the last 3 years we’ve just said no to guest accounts, but after a lot of thought and behind the scenes work, we’ve found an approach to accommodate those needs that feels right to us.


If your business rotates coffee from guest roasters or maintains an extra hopper for single origins , HasBean is uniquely suited to help you deliver choice to your customers.

We focus on sourcing the widest range of specialty coffee, offering around 60 unique lots at any one time. Our listings cover a wide range of origins, varieties and processes, as well as various microlots from our partner farms, all roasted carefully and delivered fresh to our customers.

For guest options, we offer a discount on coffee pricing, roasting to order every weekday subject to a 6kg minimum order – just mail with your full name, VAT number and delivery address and we’ll do the rest.



HasBean believes that the best cups of coffee are the result of teamwork between producers, roasters, and brewers, so we invest heavily in developing that team approach with our wholesale clients.

We work on a wide range of projects spanning the breadth of the coffee industry, from sourcing through roasting, brewing and service, all tied to one, unified idea: delicious coffee is an incredible thing. We apply the learnings from our projects as we work in tandem with our wholesale customers to help them make the most of what we can offer.

As well as this, dedicated wholesale customers receive the most competitive discounts from our pricing.

If you’re looking for excellent coffee, professional training and genuine support, drop us a quick mail at and we’ll get in touch to find out more about your needs.

They got Lions and tigers only in Kenya

I Like this time of year. Not because the birds are singing or that the days are getting longer, not even that I can start venturing int beer gardens of my favourite hostelries. No its the time of year that we see lots of new coffees arriving in warehouse, and in particular Kenyans – the roasters favourite. (ask most coffee roasters their favourite origin and Kenya’s always up there. )

Year on year we have been buying Kenyans from the cupping table from how they taste and score against our knowledge of what Kenya can produce. This is a great way to find quality coffee, but we often found that there would be a new relationship to start up every time we did this, a new farm to get to understand and new coffee to learn to roast. Its hard to add value to a new relationship every year. Like any relationship, the real benefits come when you get to know each other, and understand each others needs and the mutual respect and friendship that gets built that way

So two years ago, I went to Kenya to see two people we had worked with in the past and see if we could work on a longer term basis. I had set a goal of working in two very different regions and with two very different producers. I wanted to work in Nyeri and in Thika, two places I have had exceptional coffee from, and I wanted to buy from an estate and from a coop. Estates are on the decline in Kenya, and coops are notoriously hard to work with, but I love a challenge.

So my trip began in Thika, the Birmingham of Kenya (who wants to be the Birmingham of anywhere?Even Birmingham doesn’t want to be the Birmingham of the UK )


Thika is an industrial town in Kiambu County, Kenya, lying on the A2 road 25miles to the north east of Nairobi, where the Thika and Chania Rivers meet. The town has changed rapidly over the past years, with many of the once amazing coffee estates (any one remember Gethumbwini) having been turned from farm land to gated communities for wealthy people from Nairobi to live and commute to the more dangerous city and for their family to have a more safe and secure life.

Back in 2010 I first had Kiriga from Thika on a cupping table, and loved it, but like all our Kenyans back then we never got to see it again. Then Brian the current owner  reached out to me on the internet and invited me to visit. So this was one of the first places I hit up. Brian was the perfect host, and showed me around the farm, took me to dinner and made me fall in love with both him and the farm. The farm, funnily enough, is across the road (and I mean across the road) from Gethumbwini I mentioned earlier that’s now a gated community.

So last year we agreed that we would buy a small amount of Brian’s AA (more to come) coffee to see how it went. It went very well, so this year we had many email exchanges about how we can make more of a difference and increase what were doing with Brian. So Brian also sent us his AB lot to cup. Whats AB I hear you cry ?

Well I searched the internet and found this

  • AA – AA is a grade of coffee. Beans with a screen size of 7.2 millimeters (approximately 18/64 of an inch and often referred to as a screen size of 18) are assigned the grade AA. This grade of coffee often receives a higher price than other grades.
And AB
  • AB – Slightly smaller that AA, with a screen size of 6.8 millimeters (or 17/64 of an inch). On average, 30% of Kenyan coffee is assigned this grade.
But in layman terms, they are different and present different cups. Some years AA taste better, some years AB’s sometimes there just different. This time they were both different but delicious. So we have been lucky to secure these two lots from Brian’s farm.

The AA’s Cupping notes are

In the cup you can expect fruit, ALL the fruit! Starts off with blackcurrant creamy, smooth, balanced with a fantastic body and structure.  Then theres a delicious white grape / green apple acidity, a whopping citrus delight finishing on black cherry.

And the AB’s cupping notes are

In the cup expect a lovely lush creamy mouthfeel, with a summer fruit kick of peaches and apricots and fresh bright green apple acidity.

But why stop there, I decided to drive up the road to Nyeri. Nyeri is a city situated in the Central Highlands of Kenyaand is situated about 150 km (a two-hour drive) north of Kenya’s capital Nairobi. It is the country’s most densely populated and fertile area in Central Highlands, lying between the eastern base of the Aberdare (Nyandarua) Range, which forms part of the eastern end of the Great Rift Valley, and the western slopes of Mount Kenya.

Last year we worked with a cooperative called Kieni. Its fair to say Kieni have been one of the most proactive cooperatives and producing consistent quality because of the work of a Danish roastery who has been working with them for a number of years.


The coffee collective have been doing some amazing work with the management team and investing in helping the coop to do great work, a real poster child for working in the region. Becuase of this I had reservations of working with them, not wanting to take advantage of someone elses work. So an email to one of the owners who is also a very good friend, was called for. His reply was why I love working in coffee, “we cant buy all the coffee so of course you should dive in and help them, but only if you pay the same price as we are”. So I did and last year this was a great success, another different cup.


We have followed this up this year with another purchase from them, that we are super excited about. But why stop there, you already learned about AB and AA so we have

The Kieni AA cupping notes are

In the cup expect a super different Kenyan that’s been shaken up with a Tiki twist. First thing you’ll get is the huge  mouthfeel. Then there’s a big hit of juicy tropical fruit, lemons and oranges which finishes with a super sweet caramel acidity. A deliciously different Kenyan.

And the Kienni AB notes are

In the cup expect fresh orange juice like acidity, with a lovely floral edge, and an aftertaste of Rose water and a gentle fruit sweetness .

So fairly impressive hey ? I’m super proud of thew work we do there, but why stop there. So last year in partnership with an exporter we did a natural Kenyan. This is not normal. Kenyan coffees are renowned for their clean taste, transparent and of course being washed.

So still in Nyeri around 5km outside of the town theres another coop called Othaya and they have a mill near to the Chinga dam (called Chinga). They offered (with some reservations) to start a natural project. We asked them if they would naturally process a batch for us. They kindly agreed to do so as long as we promised to buy it regardless of the final cup. A gamble by us, but one that paid off as you snapped it up. We cupped the sample for the first time together, as you can see I’m at the end of the trip and quite sleepy

Highlands mill cupping room (4)

But we have built on that and took a large lot this year (less of a gamble) and they have also fine tuned the process, so its even better than the experiment . So here we have

The cupping notes for the Othya Chinga Natural are
In the cup expect the unexpected. An thread of blackcurrants all the way through, like you would expect from a Kenyan, but with a lovely big body, and a liquorice flavour that reminds me of Pontefract cakes, whilst remaining incredibly clean.
KCCE cupping lab team
This sounds like I’m blowing my own trumpet. I’m not, I did the easy part, I turned up, cupped some delicious coffees and paid for them. The hard work has come from the exporters, the cooperative, from Brian, pickers workers, managers and the rest. The great news is you can drink them and enjoy their hard work, and I can feel smug in the knowledge we have the best range of Kenyans we have ever had, build on strong relationships, paying a good price and making everyone along the chain super happy, I hope you will be too.

PS if your wondering why the blog post has the title it does watch this video, I sang it the whole trip