Whenever we’re getting ready to release a new coffee here at the roastery, we go through a process of test roasts to make sure we bring out the best possible flavours from the beans. It will often take us a couple roasts before we feel we have gotten to know the coffee, brought out the best balance of sweetness, acidity and body, and optimised the potential of the raw material. Unless something goes terribly wrong, and thanks to our highly skilled roasters it rarely does, these test roasts are delicious in their own right but aren’t the perfected profile we choose to present to our customers. They are still tasty but just fall slightly outside of the strict quality control parameters that we apply to our coffee for the sake of consistency. Sometimes they are actually spot on for quality, but by the time the coffee is released in the webshop the test batches will have fallen outside the window of time that we allow between roasting and shipping, and as such we have no avenue to sell them.
Instead of trying to sell these test roasts as 2nd tier quality, blank label coffee, bulk buy or bargain-priced batches, we have always chosen to donate them to charitable organisations that can distribute or serve the coffee through their networks of food banks, shelters, events etc. With the festive season coming, we thought we could even turn these coffees into nice little gifts that the charitable organisations can give away to their employees or volunteers.
We start off the Christmas Donation Coffee project with Childline, one of the organisations that we have been very close with this last year. Childline is a unique service that offers free, 24-hour helpline for children and young people across the UK. For over 30 years, Childline has been a confidential place for every child to turn to when no one else is listening any time of day or night. The organisation operates with the help of over 1,300 volunteer counsellors nationwide, and we are more than happy that our Christmas donation coffee could make a meaningful present to their 250 London-based volunteers.
It is all thanks to Edmond Chan, Childline Supervisor and a coffee enthusiast, whom we met from a roastery tour earlier this year, for the connection between Square Mile and Childline. Every month, Edmond would stop by to pick up a few kilos of coffee for the counselling room. He said: “For staff and volunteers alike, working in the counselling room is rewarding but it can also be very demanding. We all strive to do our best in supporting children and young people who are often in difficult situations, with no one else to turn to. As a service our demand is increasing, and we are as busy as ever. However, it’s important to achieve balance in our lives and we encourage our volunteers to look after themselves, whether that involves taking a break or simply having a brew. We have been very grateful to Square Mile for their regular supply of quality coffee throughout the year, and this Christmas donation will be appreciated as a further reward for those volunteers who will give their time and energy in the coming weeks to ensure that children’s voices are heard.”
As always, we would love to hear from charities that are interested in taking our donation coffee, whether to brew or to give away. Our aim to see these coffee go to good homes rather than be discarded, and we hope that through these small actions, we can brighten someone’s, day one cup at a time.