Let’s Be Social: It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee


After 27 years, everyone at Cafédirect was amazed and truly humbled when, in December 2018, we won UK Social Enterprise of the Year.

As a small team we work extremely hard (and some would say against the odds) to out compete some very aggressive competitors and deliver on our vision and mission.

We are very fortunate; being born out of the coffee price crisis in 1989 and set up as a collaboration between charities and smallholder farmers means our purpose is in our DNA.

Throughout the whole life of Cafédirect we have worked as a family; a collaboration between like-minded stakeholders to improve the livelihoods of smallholder coffee, tea and cocoa farmers.

We engage smallholder farmers in all that we do, buying directly on a long-term basis, involving farmers in the running of the business. So much so that our board of directors has two producer directors, while smallholder farmers own shares in the company.

We buy only on Fairtrade terms to provide a higher price and reinvestment in communities, are committed to organic, which provides further benefits, and have our own stand-alone charity run by farmers for farmers named Producers Direct.

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Cafédirect has helped to make an impact on the lives of coffee bean farmers

No other business does as much as we do. Importantly, we are incredibly committed to having the highest quality drinks that
our producers provide.

We are obsessed with quality, hand-roasted coffee in our speciality roastery in the East End, and employ three ‘Q graders’ – true coffee experts.

When you buy a Cafédirect beverage you can do so in the knowledge that it is the best hot drink there is, and that it has the greatest positive impact, too.

We are incredible proud to be a social enterprise – it is much more rewarding to have a genuine purpose that goes well beyond making money.

To assist others in becoming a successful social enterprise I would suggest three things.

Firstly, embed your purpose in your business; in your governance, articles of association, objectives, targets and incentives.

Secondly, engage those whom you are looking to serve in all that you do and ensure impact is visible and real.

Finally, make sure your ownership gives you the power to deliver your purpose day in day out, with durability for whatever the world may throw at you. Ultimately, ownership is a great indicator of whether a business is genuine about its purpose or not.

Social enterprise is the future of business – the days of purist capitalism where only the few benefit and the planet and society as a whole suffer are nearly over.

Enjoy improving the world and be a business with real purpose.