Good work, a Bee Plus


I had the pleasure of meeting Rosemary Trent, director of Pueblo a Pueblo at the Specialty Coffee Conference of America (SCAA) back in 2014. She is one of those amazing women in coffee; kind, bright and dedicated to making a positive change to the lives of farmers. That’s why it’s so exciting to be working with her on a new project we’re supporting in Guatemala.

It’s all about bees. Yes, those buzzing “pests” we once took for granted. We’ve all now finally realised that unless we preserve them and other pollinators, food production can’t keep up with worldwide food demand. We can only hope that realisation is not too late.

Bee - Instructions

Many countries in the world have documented a great decline in bee populations and the corresponding impact on agriculture that has had. Our new project hopes to help counteract that trend and also improve the lives of coffee farmers by providing them with a new source of income.

Bee  - protective clothing

Rosemary told me about Pueblo a Pueblo’s bee project in Atitlan, Guatemala, which I visited in February 2015 (most of the photos in this post come from that trip). It was inspiring to see this small group of indigenous coffee farmers producing honey, and selling it to the local market. Pueblo a Pueblo offers support and training in apiculture – how to maintain a bee colony – and extract honey. Crucially, they provide guidance on how to market and sell the honey, work in a group and run a small business together. These transferable skills are really valuable to farmers.

Bee - Female Worker

Apiculture has traditionally been viewed as “men’s work” but Pueblo a Pueblo mainly work with women farmers (and the wives of farmers). Seeing Felipa Ajcalón Sajquiy, a female coffee farmer from the Pampojilá community in Guatemala, lead her apiculture group’s meeting, made me once more realise that it’s changes like this, empowering women, that enable long-term positive changes in the lives of individuals and the communities they live in.

bee - making an apiary

Pueblo a Pueblo has focused their bee project on Guatemala for the time being. Conveniently though one of our largest coffee producer groups is located in Huehuetenango, Guatemala: Cooperativa Esquipulas R.L. lies at the end of a 6-7 hour drive from the capital; through the mountains, passing by small villages. I spent more than half a year with a number of communities this cooperative serves in 2010 to 2011. I quickly realised the producers have very little land and as a result the amount of coffee they produce and sell is limited. These households must have other activities to supplement their income from coffee. Apiaries require a fairly small amount of land compared to many other farming practices so can sit in areas where they don’t take up valuable coffee growing space.

bee - apriarys

Diversification is important for the farmers too, especially since coffee farms in this area have been hit with coffee disease issues during past seasons, so other complementary income sources become even more important. Having a secondary income lowers the risk and impact of unforeseen events.

From the very start, Union was keen to create a relationship with Pueblo a Pueblo and Esquipulas seemed like an obvious pilot partner. So we’ve developed a plan.


It’s an ambitious one. But we’re starting small, allowing us to learn and adapt. We’ve chosen a group of around ten female coffee producers and we’re training them in beekeeping and honey extraction, along with their other farm duties. All coffee farmers are busy but they see the time spent on the training and bee-keeping itself as a good investment. Most of their honey will be sold to the local market to generate extra income. Besides being delicious, honey is chock-full of vitamins, minerals, pollen and protein and contributes to a healthy and diverse diet for these coffee farming households. We hope this means it’s a relatively low risk investment for them; we provide the equipment and they provide their time. Who knows we may even be able to offer you a Guatemalan honey one day?

Coffee and bees are natural bedfellows, in just the sort of mutually beneficial, direct relationship that Union likes. Although they only appear for three days a year, coffee flowers are a source of sugary, high-quality nectar for bees, and the bees improve coffee plant health and berry quality year-round through cross-pollination. Increased yield means more coffee to sell and more income for the family.


We’re very excited about this project, it’s the perfect match between environmental, social and economic development in our minds. Beekeeping contributes to biodiversity and environmental protection all whilst increasing coffee farmer income. It’s a win win.

It’s early days at the moment but watch this space for more news (and honey) soon…

Pueblo a Pueblo is an NGO that provides programs in health, education, and food security in rural communities in Latin America, especially Mayan communities in Guatemala. In 2013, Pueblo a Pueblo was awarded the Specialty Coffee Association of America‘s Sustainability Award for its Organic School Garden Project, which introduces primary school children to the basics of nutrition and sustainable agriculture.

They would also really appreciate your help before you leave these post. Please visit this link 

Vote for Pueblo a Pueblo

and help win more funding for their programs.


Perfect gifts for Father’s Day


Have you been asking yourself ‘what can I get my dad for Father’s Day?’ and coming up stumped? If your dad is a coffee lover, of any kind, we’ve got all your gift needs covered. From the recent convert to the seasoned experts, we have a gift to suit him.


For the gentleman drinker

If your dad prefers a smooth clean cup with minimal fuss, we suggest our perfectly appointed Father’s Day Coffee Gift Set with two sure-fire winners, Asprotimaná, Colombia and our Equinox Seasonal Blend. The presentation box also includes an Aeropress, a clever little gizmo designed to make brewing coffee easier, with no mess. Perfect for dads who like to tinker! If you’re not familiar with this simple gadget take a look at our clip on how to use it to brew quickly for a great result.

For the refined classic

If you’re spending Sunday with dad enjoying a good, old fashioned roast; bring a bag of coffee to round off the meal. You can’t go wrong with Union favourite Gajah Mountain, Sumatra, Indonesia. It’s a trusted classic and bound to appeal to even the most conservative of palates. With flavour notes of plum, blackberry, sweet candied fruit and a deep rich body, it makes for a sublime late afternoon pick me up. And one that will score you a brownie point or two. If your dad is a classic, refined gent then this is the coffee for him (and you).

For the daredevil

Rogue is an old faithful here at Union, but it’s never too familiar. It’s loved, but prone to unpredictability. It was a blend of coffees, now we’ve created it as a single origin espresso, from flavio salles machado (FAF) microlot 560/562, brazil. But it’s always the product of extremely hard work. This microlot is carefully hand-picked then meticulously dried. If your dad’s still the punk who never backed down, then Rogue’s unpredictability is exactly right for him. It’s complex, spiky and prone to go, well…rogue. If your dad’s up for accepting a challenge, the reward from Rogue is a super clean, sweet coffee. Let him put his coffee mettle to the test with this one.


Or if you’ve just not decided yet what would make the perfect gift for dad, you can browse our full Father’s Day Gift list.


go on, make his day


Best Served Chilled



It’s hard to tell how the weather is going to go this summer, as I write this it’s overcast, muggy and humid. Even though the sun might not be out, I need something to cool me down. Luckily for me I have just the thing, Cold Brew Coffee.

Cold brew is simple to make and makes the perfect long drink to enjoy in the sun. It’s the ideal accompaniment to lazy afternoons spent with friends and a barbecue. Cold Brewed Coffee keeps you cool without the need to resort to something stronger. Chilled on the inside, chilled on the outside.

How to brew

Cold brew requires a bit of foresight because of the extended steeping time, but the rewards are there for a little patience. Using the immersion method below produces a naturally sweeter cup, with a tingly sparkle to refresh you on a hot and sultry summer day. This brewing technique highlights some of the subtle floral and fruit notes found in high quality coffee, that may be more muted with hot brew.

You don’t need special kit. There’s no need for filtering if you follow our guide. Really it’s just coffee, water, a big jar and something to strain it with. Cold brew lends itself beautifully to making large batches, and keeps for up two weeks in the fridge. That’s a workflow I like. By brewing your own coffee you know you’re getting the best out of your precious coffee. It’s all win!

What you need:

How to make it

  • Grind the coffee beans to produce a coarse grind, similar to cafetiere grind, or slightly coarser if possible. If you’re unsure what that looks like, click here for a handy comparison.
  • Place the coffee in the muslin cloth and tie the top with kitchen string to create a large “coffee bag”
  • Immerse the bag into the fresh water, kneeding a little to ensure the coffee inside is throughly wet
  • Leave to brew at room temperature overnight (10-16 hours)
  • Remove the bag and give it a squeeze
  • Bottle your brewed coffee, and refrigerate for a couple of hours to chill


Play around and adjust ratios and the brew time until you get the balance you like. Tweet us your version of the recipe at @unionroasted!


Buy Yayu Wild Forest, Geri Cooperative, Ethiopia


Coffee Cocktail Recipes for the Weekend


This week I took part in the UK Coffee in Good Spirits 2015 Competition (and came a very respectable third place). Now that the dust has settled I thought it would be a good opportunity to share with you the two recipes I presented to the judges.


I have 3 good reasons why you should break out the cocktail shaker this weekend and try something a little cheeky (minus the “bantz”).

1. It’s looking promising for some good weather and with that comes barbeques. What’s a bbq without homemade boozy drinks?!

2. This Saturday is World Whisky Day. It would be rude not to mark the occasion.

3. These recipes are really rather good. I promise you won’t have tasted Irish Coffee quite like this before.

So now I’ve made your excuses, let’s get into the recipes…


irish_coffeeCold Irish Coffee

This was my left field entry into the competition. it’s a well known drink, with a great creation story, but it is always served hot. So why serve it cold? I found that with the ingredients served cold it brought out all the tropical fruit character of the coffee. The hot coffee was bringing out too much of the flavour of the whisky cask and you couldn’t get all the nuance of the Los Lajones and so creating the drink cold allowed all the flavours of the coffee (as well as the whisky) to come through on the palate. Try it, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

For 2 Irish Coffees You will need:

  •  Espresso Machine and grinder (although you could use aeropress)
  • 2x 240ml wine glass
  • Aeropress
  • Clip top (Kilner Style) bottle
  • 22g Los Lajones Natural Caturra, Panama
  • 30g Orange Blossom Honey
  • 50ml Dalmore 15 Year Old (sorry Ireland but I found Scotch pairs better with the Los Lajones)
  • 150ml Double Cream
  • Bar spoon
  • Small sieve (optional)
  • 340ml jug (optional)


Brew espresso to this recipe: 22g Los Lajones Natural Caturra. Delivering 35g of espresso in 30 seconds.

Using the inverted aeropress method, pour the 3 double espressos into the aeropress, add the washed filter in the cap and press the espresso through into a jug to remove the crema. Add 220ml of iced water, the whisky and the honey and divide into two glasses.

Add the cream to the clip top bottle and shake vigorously until you hear a change to the sound the cream makes as it thickens. Keep shaking gently until the cream feels thick. For a really glossy finish, strain through the sieve into a small jug.

Slowly pour the cream over the back of a bar spoon onto the coffee – it should float.

This will be quite unlike any Irish Coffee you have ever had before: the cream coats the inside of your mouth and has the texture of chocolate melting in your mouth. The cool coffee and whisky underlayer has the flavour of pineapple, mango and passionfruit. It is cold, refreshing and luxurious. For a REALLY indulgent experience, why not try with Los Lajones Geisha Sweet Princess?



Marmalade Crescendo

This cocktail has all the characteristics of a classic Ethiopian coffee – floral, citrus and a long fruit finish, but in an accessible cocktail for people who don’t “get” Speciality Coffee…..yet! It’s amazing how alcohol can change one’s motivation!

For 2 Marmalade Crescendos You will need:

  • Espresso Machine and Grinder (although you could use aeropress)
  • 2x250ml Champagne coupe glasses
  • 21 g Yayu Wild Forest Geri Co-Operative, Ethiopia
  • 15g Orange Blossom Honey
  • 100ml The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
  • 60ml Grand Marnier
  • 20ml Limoncello
  • 60ml Taittinger Champagne
  • Ice
  • Shaker can
  • Strainer & sieve
  • Edible Flowers (Maddocks Farm organics)



Brew espresso to this recipe: 21g Yayu Wild Forest Geri Co-Operative, Ethiopia. Delivering 22g of espresso in 22 seconds.

Add crushed ice and Limoncello to the glasses and roll them around to coat the inside, discard the Limoncello (I recommend having it as a warm-up) Add 30ml of Champagne to each glass.

Add the gin, Grand Marnier and espresso to the shaker can, top with ice and seal with the glass. Shake vigorously until the can has frosted and the glass has cooled.

Break the seal, and double strain into the glasses. Garnish with edible flowers.

This will be like the experience of drinking Ethiopian Coffee only cold, and boozy! Up front florals, lemon acidity and a long Seville Orange Marmalade finish with a sparkly effervescent mouthfeel.





Have a great weekend everyone. I’m confident you will if you follow these simple steps!