Did you know that in the UK 80% of households buy instant coffee for in-home consumption? Or that single-serve coffee pods, which are not environmentally friendly, are becoming more and more popular? For comparison, in Italy only 1% of households buy instant coffee.
There was a time long time ago, when I used to drink instant coffee too. The excuse was always the same, it’s easy to make, it’s full of flavour, it’s sweet. The truth is that what I was drinking couldn’t have been further from what coffee actually tastes like.
I must give credit for my love of real coffee to my body. I stopped drinking instant coffee when I became lactose intolerant. Have you ever tried drinking instant coffee without milk? It tastes like dirty water.
Very slowly I started to appreciate the taste of brewed coffee. I also noticed the change in my palate. At first I used a French press coffee maker, then an Aeropress, followed by a Vietnamese dripper. This year for my birthday, I was gifted a professional espresso machine, and making coffee every morning has now become a ritual. When I visited El Salvador a few years ago, I spent a day at a coffee cooperative, learning how the coffee is processed after being brought there by the local independent farmers. I was also taught how to taste coffee, the difference between plant varieties, and how the growing environment affects the flavour of the final drink. I still remember the complex and intense taste of the Pacamara, a coffee created in El Salvador by crossing two varieties of plants.
The question is, how can we enjoy more quality coffee at home, which tastes just like the one you buy in coffee shops? Let me introduce you to the Blue Coffee Box!
About the Blue Box Coffee Subscription
The Blue Coffee Box is a gourmet subscription service for coffee lovers, established in 2017 after the founders Harvey and Jon Butt discovered a gap in the coffee market in the UK: 80% of the population drink instant coffee at home.
Whilst there are plenty of coffee varieties available to buy in the supermarket, if you look closely, they all belong to the same four or five major brands on the market: Costa, Starbucks, Taylors, Lavazza, etc. So really, there isn’t much choice, especially if like me, you would prefer to support small businesses as much as possible. Lately, especially during the pandemic, I’ve changed my buying behaviour, replacing going to the big supermarkets with doing my shopping at the local grocers, butchers, and the Saturday market.
When the Blue Coffee Box asked me if I wanted to review their gourmet subscription, I was happy to say yes, as whilst they are a small business in the UK, they are also a contributor to improving the lives of coffee farmers in remote communities around the world.
The Blue Coffee Box is an ethical brand which supports sustainability and environmentally friendly practises. Working directly with small coffee farmers and local communities around the world, they are contributing to a better livelihood for the growers, who are paid 30% more than the Fairtrade prices. Having visited a coffee plantation in Tanzania, I’ve learned how farmers usually sell their produce through stock exchanges which pay a fixed price, regardless of the quality. When you buy a pack of 250gr of coffee in the supermarket for £2, how much of that do you think is actually going to the farmer, once all the fees (supermarket fee, transport, packaging, middleman etc) have been taken out?
All the Blue Coffee Box packaging is 100% recyclable, from the box itself to the coffee pouches.
Each month, local UK roasters hand-roast the coffee beans. This is how The Blue Coffee Box also supports the specialised coffee industry in the United Kingdom. I was happy to see that one of the recent roasters is actually local to my area.
What’s in the Blue Coffee Box
The Blue Coffee Box is a gourmet coffee subscription that arrives each month in a letterbox friendly box. Inside of the box, depending which type of subscription you have purchased, you will find either one or two bags of high-quality freshly roasted Arabica coffee. The pouches have a valve, which keeps the coffee fresher for longer and prevents it from going stale, so there’s no need to worry that your coffee will go off if you don’t drink it straight away. The coffee sent by The Blue Coffee Box is at its best when consumed four weeks after it’s been roasted. It will last for three months, however, that fresh aroma and taste of roasted coffee will start to fade after four weeks.
Depending on what type of coffee machine you have, you can choose to receive either whole beans or ground coffee for cafetiere, dripper, aeropress or espresso machine.
Besides the coffee bags, the box also contains a card which describes the origins of each coffee, and gives a little information about the farms where the beans are grown.
Grown in Colombia, in the small town of Monte Bonito at an altitude of 1700 meters, this coffee has rich notes of toffee and nutmeg. The town has a population of around one thousand inhabitants and 89 coffee growers with small parcels between 1-3 hectares. The farmers are responsible for the entire process of growing coffee, from seed to bean, which is picked, washed and delivered to the local Manizales Coop warehouse where all the beans are collected. The coffee is sent to the UK where it is roasted in small batches just before being boxed and sent. This ensures that the coffee will always arrive fresh and maintain its full aroma – unlike what you buy in the supermarkets, which will have been roasted six months previously.
The aroma of the coffee is almost sweet, with an intense earthy scent. Once brewed, the Monte Bonito coffee has a tart-acidity, with notes of orange blossom. I learned a long time ago, during a barista coffee class, that the coffee acquires some of its flavour from the trees and flowers which grow all around them.
The coffee is quite light and easy to drink, having a lovely bitterness and a sweet aftertaste. I prefer to drink my coffee black, in order to experience the proper taste of the coffee. When you add milk, it dilutes the taste.
Wilmer Martinez Terrones
Wilmer Martinez Terrones is a Peruvian coffee farm in the north of the country, in the village of Shumbana, at 1850 meters altitude. The area is quite isolated, away from the nearest town of Jaen, connected via a poor road infrastructure. The locals here live a simple life, following the traditional Peruvian farmer culture, with agriculture being their main activity. Peru’s largest food exports include coffee, avocados, mango, quinoa and surprisingly, grapes.
Wilmer Martinez Terrones is a small farm that grows two varieties of coffee: pache and caturra, both shrubs producing bigger and more qualitative beans when planted at higher altitudes. In Peru, coffee is not grown under 1,400 meters altitude. Wilmer picks the beans himself and dries them for 10 days on his patio, before delivering them to the coffee warehouse.
The aroma of the coffee is more earthy and intense than the Monte Bonito, reminding me of chocolate and caramel. Once brewed, the coffee makes a nice layer of velvety foam on top, and somehow it’s smoother than the other one.
The acidity of this coffee is quite high, with clear citrusy notes. It has a light body and is very easy to drink. The flavour is fruity too, with fresh flavours of nectarines and cherries. The after taste is very interesting, with a slight sweet bitterness, resembling caramelized sugar.
If you like the sound of the Blue Coffee Box and would like to try it yourself, here is a £3 discount code which you can use at checkout when you order your box: JN3.
If you feel lucky, join the competition below. You can win a one month’s subscription for the gourmet Blue Coffee Box.
Disclaimer: Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my travelling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Please note that this post was written in collaboration with the Blue Coffee Box, who kindly offered me their monthly box in order to review it.