Connecting SMEs for a green economy

Honest Coffees: Single Origin Fairtrade Coffee for Offices and Trades

Honest Coffees's picture

We’ve scoured the globe for the world’s best Fairtrade coffee and have hand-selected three of the best: one each of a medium, dark and extra dark roast. Each one is rated ‘specialty’ or higher by the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America), and every roast has its own story.

Our mission to source the best Fairtrade coffee in the world (read more here) and deliver it to our clients in a way that’s smooth, seamless and delightful.

Initially we sold coffee direct to consumers via subscription, but the costs and logistics of that quickly got out of hand. We stuck with that for about two years before deciding to switch to another model. We now focus on the business to business market to supply offices, coffee shops, pubs and cafes. This model features many of the benefits of a consumer subscription (long-term recurring revenue) but offers greater volume and a more personal relationship with our clients.

General information

All our coffee is sourced ethically, roasted locally and priced fairly, so both our suppliers and clients get a fair deal; while the coffee is really really good. Many of our clients deal in really high volumes as well, so it’s a great way to make a big difference.

Description of the green solution

The core of our green business model relies on:

  1. Fairtrade sourced coffee (and ⅔ are organic while ⅓ are also Rainforest Alliance certified);

  2. Use of recycled material for packaging;

  3. Constant increase in efficiency to reduce consumption and waste in our office.

  4. Clients have the option to recycle their coffee grounds for 50p per kg extra.


We’ve scoured the globe for the world’s best Fairtrade coffee and have hand-selected three of the best: one each of a medium, dark and extra dark roast. Each one is rated ‘specialty’ or higher by the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America), and every roast has its own story.


We can charge a fair price for our coffees (typically 40% less than the other guys for equivalent top-quality beans), because we don’t spend a tonne on marketing or other overheads. We also don’t have shareholders or other meddlesome investors to report to. Perhaps like you, we don’t think you should have to compromise taste or quality when you buy Fairtrade coffee. It’s not easy to find coffee that’s both ethically sourced and tastes amazing (find out why here), but it can be done, and it’s how we spend our days.


But we’re also keen to know where the stuff we buy comes from and that the folks behind it got a fair deal. Fairtrade coffee means our growers get a set minimum price on top of a Fairtrade premium, and this helps them invest in their—and their farms’—futures. Knowing this about the things we buy makes it all taste just a bit sweeter. We also lease and sell really nice bean to cup commercial coffee machines.




The personal motivation of This business can effectively be run from anywhere because customers and suppliers are from different parts of the world. The owners are free to work from wherever they want. 


Before the end 2014, a survey conducted among Honest Coffees customers revealed a full satisfaction with the product. Since 2015, there has been already an increase in business of about 10-20% with high hopes for the end of the year results.

These results suggest that there is a business case for green products that not only more sustainable from a social and environmental perspective, but that also have high quality level.

Currently, Honest Coffees is not able to quantify the actual environmental benefits due to a lack of financial resources to invest into this, while finance-wise the potential savings in using their products depend on the amount of coffee that customers buy from Honest Coffees. The more the better.

Barriers/challenges and Lessons learnt

It is a very difficult thing to start a business without external investment; however this gives the owners more freedom to make decisions about which direction to take the company. They can do what’s best for their clients and suppliers without worrying about investors.

When the company started, coffee subscriptions weren’t well known, so it was a big challenge to convince new potential customers. Most of the marketing was actually focused on explaining the concept and convincing people that a subscription was a good idea.

The challenge now is also to get business customers, but companies tend to stay with coffee suppliers for years because they are locked in contractually. Therefore, the biggest aim is to be the company they think of when the time comes to switch suppliers.

Further details

How was the green solution financed?: 
Would you characterize the green solution as: 
Medium to low capital intensive investment (i.e. €3,000 -€10,000)
Operating and maintenance costs: 
Yes, low O&M costs
Technical and capacity requirements?: 

It is necessary a knowledge of coffee trading, coffee production processes, etc. Especially, all stages of the supply chain for coffee.

Regulatory framework prerequisites and constraints?: 

Each certification has a framework. The beans are certified, and then in other bits of the supply chain have different frameworks, such as packaging, etc.