Our Story

Our story

Union was founded by Steven and Jeremy, two scientists who quickly became ex-scientists when they fell in love with coffee.

Fell in love with coffee – but not with the coffee industry. So they did something different.

Today, we source, roast, brew, teach, and celebrate great coffee.

Find out more about what we do. Read our story. And meet the team.

 

Our history

Excitement, passion, partnership. All these have defined Union. For over 20 years, we’ve been a proud part of the story of UK coffee. And a proud partner to hundreds of coffee farmers, worldwide.

 

Don’t drink and walk

It's hard to imagine today, but in Britain a few decades ago, you’d never see someone drinking a takeaway coffee in the street. There were no baristas. There was no café culture. No-one paid much attention to the quality of their coffee.

So our story begins in San Francisco, where our founders, Steven and Jeremy, were working. One day, they ducked into a tiny café. Inside, they were roasting fresh coffee. They watched the beans come tumbling out of the roaster: hot, fresh, aromatic. And that was that.

 

Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee

Inspired, they threw themselves into the world of coffee, learning anything and everything they could.

Then they decided to bring that West Coast inspiration to London.

So they quit their day jobs. Packed up, shipped out, settled in, started pitching. Sold everything they had to rent a workshop and buy a roaster. And a fax machine (cutting edge, back then).

 

In good taste

Union was stirring – in more ways than one.

It was a whole new approach to coffee. Buying great coffee, roasting it in small batches, creating a more flavourful cup. Even talking about a more flavourful cup – and introducing flavour profiles – was new.

Little did we know: an even more meaningful union was waiting to be discovered.

 

The coffee farmers who stopped farming coffee

In 2001 Steven and Jeremy were in Guatemala, on a research trip, when Arabica prices fell to their lowest point in 30 years. They saw, first hand, the impact on farmers, who now couldn’t earn a living from coffee. They saw fourth generation farmers pull up their coffee trees – their birthright – with their own hands.

Farmers had never been part of the coffee story. They were anonymous even to exporters, combining their crop into one mill.

Steven and Jeremy wanted to do things differently. They bypassed the brokers. Invested long-term in farming communities. Paid farmers a fair, sustainable price.

 

Telling new coffee stories – together

Today, Union does more than tell our farmers’ stories: we create new stories together.

We work together, long-term, pooling our knowledge – on coffee varieties, harvesting techniques, sustainable farming, post-harvest processing – to create the perfect cup of coffee.

Because great coffee doesn’t just make conversation. Great coffee is made from conversation.

Our team of coffee lovers and enthusiasts keep that conversation going. Barista trainers, roasters, cupping specialists, all of us. A conversation everyone can take part in and enjoy.

Ours is a worldwide union – one of farmers, roasters, and all lovers of great coffee. All living, loving and speaking coffee.

Join the conversation

 

what we do

WHAT WE DO

 

union direct trade

UNION DIRECT TRADE