Emma, Steve, Emily, Theresa, and Karl from BG Green discovered what goes into making the coffee that is enjoyed here at BGU - with a particular focus on sustainability.
On a sunny December morning five members of BG Green set off from campus to visit family-run business Stokes Tea & Coffee. Stokes supply the coffee served in Curiositea and BG Green were interested to find out more about this famous local company, which began selling tea and coffee in Lincoln back in 1902 (the same year that BGU celebrated its 50th birthday). It was not far to walk, strolling down Newport and along Westgate to The Lawn where Stokes’ headquarters, roastery, and training centre have been located since 2017.
Entering through their cosy café, BGU’s Account Manager Ben led the team to the roastery and into a large training room containing coffee machines, as well as chairs upholstered in coffee bean sacks. They were also introduced to Stokes’ Training Manager, Mike.
Ben and Mike provided a tour where the team learned that coffee is made from the seeds of the bright red coffee berry and that various conditions can influence the taste of the drink, e.g., the altitude at which the berries are grown, how they are dried and the green seeds extracted, and the length of time the seeds are roasted to create the dark brown beans. They experienced the sampling of four coffees, discovering subtle differences between each one.
The team watched (and smelled) seeds being roasted in an eco-roaster and were interested to hear more about Stokes’ approach to sustainability. Ben and Mike explained that Stokes deal not only with trusted brokers but also directly with farmers, ensuring traceability throughout the supply chain. In addition:
- Coffee is delivered to the campus in small buckets which, once emptied, are re-used.
- Coffee seed sacks are given away to be re-used for gardening, upholstery, and pet bedding.
- Left over coffee grounds from their cafés are used as plant fertiliser.
- The company is working towards ‘B Corp’ certification.
- They use local and independent suppliers at every opportunity, and aim to recruit staff from within a 50-mile radius.
- They approach sustainability in the spirit of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle.’
BG Green enjoyed the morning at Stokes, with Ben and Mike clearly showing their love of what they do. The team were impressed by the company’s commitment not only to the quality of their products, but to sustainability, corporate responsibility, and consideration of local economy. It is also great to know that the beans purchased for BGU travel only a mile up the road to get here.
Students, staff, and visitors can try Stokes coffee at the Curiositea café here on campus.