The London Coffee scene has come along way since the birth of its first coffee house in 1652. And not in the way you're thinking, although I'm sure we're all thrilled by Starbucks' modern day secret menu, Pret's convenient coffee subscription, and Costa's plethora of plant-based milk options. I'm talking basic improvements like welcoming female customers.
Although there wasn't an outright ban on women in coffee houses, culturally they were perceived as places for men to gather and discuss politics, debate ideas, and do business. Subjects that women were not privy to back then (yikes, sorry girlies).
And while we thank the great, great, great, great grandaddy of London based coffee consumption, Pasqua Rosée, for helping us establish London as the UK's capital for coffee, let's be glad coffee drinking in the city has since evolved.
So my lovely caffeine addicted readers, with nearly 4,000 places to score your next hit of bean, let me hold your virtual hand and guide you to some of the most ethical and best London coffee roasters, because they're doing a hell of a lot more good in this world than just letting the ladies in!
1. Volcano Coffee Works - 8.5/10 Really Good Score™
Based in Brixton, Volcano Coffee Works is considered one of London's most ethical coffee roasters. Why? Probably something to do with their eco credentials. Their B Corp certification is proof of their commitment to using their business as a force for good.
On the environmental front they have achieved a carbon neutral certification and prioritise supporting other business that share this sentiment by sourcing from business that use 100% renewable energy and re-use waste to generate fuel.
Volcano Coffee Works have taken adequate steps to ensure their customers can uphold their high environmental standards too by selling fully compostable Nespresso pods so you can get your daily coffee and your local landfill will be none the wiser.
Ok one more thing! The ethics of their supply chain doesn't begin at their own production. They pay on average double that of Commodity Coffee (C Market) and Fair Trade to the farmers and all their contracts are long term with fixed prices, absorbing variables like currency fluctuations.
2. The Gentlemen Baristas - 7.4/10 Really Good Score™
Inspired by the original coffee houses, The Gentlemen Baristas embrace the coffee house tradition and want their visitors to feel just at home in their coffee houses as they do at home. Respecting Earth, they aim to achieve zero-waste by transporting products in electric vehicles and convert coffee waste into biofuel and coffee logs. In true zero-waste fashion they have switched packaging to LDPE - a recyclable and reusable alternative to traditional plastic.
They're not just contributing to a healthier planet, they are also promoting to a happier society by working with various charities such as Mind and The Burnt Chef Project who are working to improve lives through mental health projects.
3. Redemption Roasters - 7.2/10 Really Good Score™
It's in the name, Redemption Roasters' mission is to reduce reoffending rates. By working closely with prisons across London they're supporting people in prison and their leavers by offering training and guidance to give them a head start when they reintegrate into society.
All the coffee served is roasted at their roastery inside HMP The Mount where at least 5 prison residents are employed at a time, and paid above standard prison rate to build their confidence and improve their self-esteem. Redemption Roasters also have barista academies inside HMP High Down, HMP Pentonville, HMP Send, and a HQ in King's Cross where individuals who are residents of prison or at high risk of offending are taught all the skills they need to become a coffee master and begin their careers.
Beyond training their process involves working with candidates to secure them a suitable job role within their network and conduct weekly check-ins to ensure each individual has on going support across wellbeing, developmental, financial and legal support.
Redemption Coffee Roasters' approach to giving people a second chance at life is uplifting and inspiring. Their reoffending rate is 22% much lower than the national average of 51%, whilst this is not a perfect 0 it's clearly a big step in the right direction in the post prison journey for many.
4. Kiss The Hippo - 9.2/10 Really Good Score™
Loud and proud Kiss The Hippo is London's first Carbon Negative coffee brand.
Having worked with On A Mission to understand and improve their carbon figures they've achieved carbon negative through their reforestation projects where they track the progress of carbon sequestration to ensure their carbon reduction investments come to fruition.
True innovators in the coffee space they use the Loring Smart Roast system, a method that uses up to 80% less fuel than a traditional drum roaster.
Kiss The Hippo makes sure every coffee bean that enters their supply chain is ethically sourced by visiting each origin site at least once a year and make regular financial contributions to the World Coffee Research program and Just a Drop clean water foundation to support the communities in which they source their coffee.
This is just the beginning of their ethical investments, hear more straight from the hippo's mouth here.