The task of selecting the best coffee roasters in the UK is not an easy one. The main reason for this, and one that you will have probably noticed, is that there are hundreds of them. Around 600 to be precise, all varied in size, experience and ethos, with different techniques, using different beans, with different specialities… How on earth are you supposed to pick the best?
It’s impossible, of course. Everyone will have their own personal choice when it comes to the best coffee roaster in the UK, and it is not my job to tell you that you’ve got it wrong – the important thing is that you drink coffee that you love. The aim of this article is to show you some more options – highlighting some of the contenders for our ‘Best Coffee Roasters’ crown.
Our Top 8 UK Based Coffee Roasters
Below we have highlighted eight UK coffee roasters that we think are doing excellent work and producing some truly brilliant coffee. Our advice is that you have a read-through and pick a couple that take your fancy – it may become your new favourite coffee.
We’ll kick off this rundown of the best UK coffee roasters with a self-confessed “team of dreamers” – Exhale. This London-based coffee roaster was founded on the back of a surfing accident in Thailand…
While recuperating, the founder Alex Higham visited a local healer and stumbled across a speciality coffee shop that sold single-origin coffee from Indonesia. With one sip, his life changed forever.
Blown away by how delicious it tasted, he devoted his life to learning how to roast and brew coffee to that standard. As he learned, he realised how amazing coffee can be for your health – as an athlete, this became the focus of his new coffee company – Exhale. Great coffee that does wonders for your health. He assembled his team of dreamers.
The result is incredible – they proudly boast that 1 cup of any of their coffees is the equivalent to 12 punnets of blueberries in terms of antioxidants, and they taste amazing. They do not add anything to their coffee – you get a true, authentic taste. They run 9 different lab tests, overseen by NHS doctors, to ensure that the coffee is as healthy for you as it can be.
They source coffee that is high in vitamin B and polyphenols – great for your skin and nervous system – and they ensure that all of their beans are free from mycotoxins by taking care of how they are transported and by roasting when they are fresh – this also helps the taste. Even the decaf is chemical-free.
This is all well and good, but the most crucial thing is that Exhale coffee is delicious. Take the House Roast – a single-origin coffee sourced from Chiapas, Mexico. As for the flavour, expect a fruity orange and apricot taste, with a smooth, sweet chocolatey aftertaste. It is a wonderfully easy drinker – you’ll find yourself making another cup as soon as you’ve finished your first.
The Dark(ish) Roast is another fantastic option if you like your coffee a bit richer. This has a deeper flavour to it, with toffee and raspberry notes, but it is still sweet and very drinkable.
They are a ‘B-Corp – Pending’ company, which means that they have as big a commitment to their impact on society and the environment as they do to their profits. These are good guys.
Their coffee is quite expensive, but so much thought and skill are put into the process that it is justifiable. These are great coffee roasters to kick off our list.
Perfect for: The health and fitness buffs that love great coffeeback to menu ↑
Staying in London now for a look at one of the more familiar names on our list – Pact Coffee – one of the trail-blazers of the ever-growing coffee subscription market. Formally known as Your Grind, Pact have been pushing the boundaries of coffee, and have grown into one of the major players in the industry – hell-bent on bringing it into the 21st century.
They have a huge focus on the farmers that grow the coffee – a group that has been exploited for centuries. In a traditional coffee supply chain, there are 10 steps between the farmer and the seller – Pact deal with the farmers directly.
The result of this is that the farmers get a much better deal – they get a much bigger share, and Pact promise to pay at least 25% above the Fair Trade base price. It is no wonder, then, that they have developed fantastic relationships with over 150 farmers around the world.
At the time of writing, Pact have 25 different coffees available. To put that into context, Exhale have 3. They have specific ‘espresso’ roasts and they have a range from light to dark.
The House Blend is usually a good place to start – you’ll get a great, dark coffee with hints of chocolate. On their website you can select the grind size, or have whole beans, so you can pick the best size for however you make your coffee. This attention to detail shows how much they care about their coffee.
For their subscription service, if you select the House option, you will receive this coffee every time, and I am sure you would be delighted with it. However, there are two other options – Select (different coffees every month) and Micro-Lot (different premium options every month). The great thing about these plans is that you get to experience fantastic coffees (and I haven’t had one I don’t like yet), with a slightly different profile.
One example of the premium options is the Mi Tazita Natural – a Honduran coffee with hints of “Strawberry-cream-filled chocolates”. It is a coffee that you need to try.
Perfect for: The coffee drinker that loves to experimentback to menu ↑
Another coffer roaster from (you guessed it) London now, and another roaster with a fascinating origin story and ethos – perhaps a unique one in fact…
Redemption Coffee is a coffee roasting company that is based in HMP The Mount – the first coffee roaster to be based behind bars in the world. Every bean is roasted inside the prison and the company work with the offenders to produce the coffee, as well as providing barista training around the country in justice sector institutions – the goal is clear – to help reduce reoffending rates. By providing people with skills
and training, they give them a much better chance of reintegrating into society when they are released.
A truly noble cause, I’m sure you will agree. But how is there coffee?
Their three main coffees are called The Wing, The Yard and The Block – let’s take a look at The Wing. Like the whole company, this is a little bit spicy, and a little bit sweet. You’ll first get hit with the spicy cardamom and then there is the sweet, smooth aftertaste – hints of plum and caramel.
It is a blend of beans from Peru and Ethiopia – the Peruvian coffee providing the base and the Ethiopian adding the delicate tingles of flavour that dance on your tongue. It’s a great coffee.
They have a decent range of coffees available, with decaf and espresso pod options as well as more complex, single-origin coffees. For example, the Santo Antonio Peaberry is a fantastic coffee from Brazil, with an intense cocoa and nougat flavours – certainly one to put on your shortlist.
If we needed to reinforce the fact that this is a fantastic company, they also seek out female farmers in an industry where traditionally women represented most of the labour force and very few of the owners, and all of their packaging is 100% recyclable. Another brilliant company representing the coffee industry.
Perfect for: Coffee lovers with a strong social conscienceback to menu ↑
Another coffee subscription provider now as we take a look at Presto – one of the biggest subscription service providers in the UK. They are a relatively new company, having been formed in 2018, but have very quickly established themselves as huge players in the domestic coffee market.
Obviously, there is a huge focus on convenience here – having coffee sent to your door whenever you need it is still a relatively novel concept. You just pick the type of coffee that you would like and how often you would like it – then you will receive it to your door either weekly, fortnightly or monthly. You even save a little – 10% when you opt for the subscription.
Their Brazilian Blend is a great place to start if you are slightly overwhelmed by the range of options, for there is plenty to choose from. It is a rich, yet smooth, blend of Arabica beans from Mogiana. A medium roast, slightly lighter than their espresso blend, you will get hints of nut underneath the more in-your-face flavours of chocolate and caramel. It’s a really good coffee.
If you fancy something with a bit more of a kick, though, there is always the Rocket Blend. This is a very dark roast with more than twice the amount of caffeine that you will find in a regular cup of coffee. However, the taste is still incredibly smooth, with subtle notes of cranberry. Make it in a filter coffee machine and start your day in the best possible way.
They have a massive range, more than just ground coffee and whole beans. They also sell coffee bags, cold brew coffee and even ‘posh’ instant coffee – before you judge too harshly, it is the best instant coffee I have ever tasted.
The sheer range of options, and the convenience with which you can order, mean that Presto are a great option to try new coffees.
Perfect for: The adventurous coffee drinker that values convenienceback to menu ↑
Yet another roaster from London now as we look at Perky Blenders – “We roast. We Post.” You probably get the picture with that handy slogan!
Husband and wife duo Adam and Victoria Cozens founded the company back in 2015, starting out as a little coffee cart in a train station. They wanted to make great coffee more accessible – an ethos that has informed the many transitions that have resulted in being featured in the Independent’s ‘Best Coffee Subscription Services’.
Let’s talk coffee – the thing I like a lot about their website is that they have a Coffee of the Month. As someone that likes to sample new coffees all the time, but also really struggles to make decisions, the coffee of the month section is a lifesaver.
At the time of writing, the Coffee of the Month is Perky Records. This is made from Ecuadorian beans and is a blend of various washed varieties. The result is a fantastic, complex combination of flavours – it is sweet and creamy as well as fruity and bitter. I loved it when I made a coffee using my filter coffee machine.
You can sign up to a subscription so that you always receive the coffee of the month, something that I can wholeheartedly recommend. But there are so many different options when it comes to subscriptions that you can find your perfect coffee here, and have it delivered to your door whenever you need it.
Another favourite of mine is the Acacia Blend, made with beans from Rwanda and Columbia. This has a really unique flavour, combining raisins and honey with floral and citrus notes. It gives a really bright and sweet aftertaste – a very pleasant experience.
There are so many options on their site, I would wholeheartedly recommend spending some time looking over some of them and selecting your favourite – you will not be disappointed by the quality, I am certain of that.
Perfect for: The coffee drinker always looking for their next favourite coffeeback to menu ↑
The penultimate coffee roaster on our list is based in, you guessed it, London. Grind coffee have enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent years to become one of the most recognisable coffee roasters in the country, all born out of their humble beginnings in Shoreditch over a decade ago.
Their coffee-slash-bar that they opened back then has spawned many more locations throughout London, but alongside that, they have built up a fantastic subscription service aimed at tackling the problem of waste in the coffee pod industry.
It is thought that 29,000 plastic and aluminium Nespresso pods go to landfill every minute. Whatever your views on coffee pods, this is a hugely worrying statistic. Grind agree, and they have done something about it.
They have developed home-compostable pods for Nespresso machines. This means that after you have used the pod, you can put them in your compost bin and it will break down quicker than a banana peel – and will be great for your garden too. Everyone wins.
All of their coffee is organic and sourced from sustainable farms before being roasted in London. It is also delicious.
They don’t just make coffee pods, of course. They offer ground coffee, whole beans, iced coffee and even sell coffee pod machines.
Their House Blend is a beautifully sweet and delicate coffee, that works really well with milk. With notes of dark chocolate, honeycomb and nut, it is a pleasant, deep-flavoured coffee that is incredibly easy to drink.
If you fancy something with a bit of a stronger flavour, the Dark Blend is a bolder-tasting coffee that works really well as an espresso. You’ll get a deep chocolate flavour, as well as treacle.
They offer a 33% discount if you subscribe with them, which makes their coffee much more affordable. It is well worth your consideration, especially if you are looking for an eco-friendly alternative to standard coffee pods.
Perfect for: The eco-friendly coffee pod drinkerback to menu ↑
Next up is another London-based roaster, and we encounter another in an odd-trend of coffee roasting companies that set up as the result of a serious accident…
Kurt Stewart, from New Zealand, is a former chef that had been in London for 7 years when he was in a near-fatal bike crash, which left him with a broken neck. While he was recuperating, he developed a passion for coffee. He had already learned the art of roasting from his life in New Zealand, which he then combined with his attention to detail as a fine-dining chef.
On top of that, they believe strongly in the importance of transparency and equality when it comes to the complicated supply chain of the coffee market. They ensure that the people that they buy their coffee from have the same ethics and responsibilities as they do, and make sure that they have long-term contracts at fixed rates with their farmers, so to provide a sustainable income for them.
But what of their coffee? Let’s take a look at their Firehouse Blends, the cheapest option on their website. It is a strong coffee that is packed full of flavour – sweet notes of orange and cinnamon. I tend to drink my coffee black, but I followed their recommendation to add milk and it really worked – the flavours were drawn out with just a drop of milk.
There are plenty of other options as well, with Limited Edition options coming and going all the time – a fantastic range of exciting and flavoursome coffees. All ethically sourced, of course. Their Rum Aged Coffee is utterly wonderful, but it does come at a higher price (mitigated slightly by the limited edition tin that comes with it). Try it after dinner with a little whisky…
Perfect for: Ethical coffee lovers that occasionally fancy something a bit specialback to menu ↑
We complete this list of the Best UK Coffee Roasters with Origin Coffee – specialist roasters based in Cornwall. (Don’t worry London fans, they do have a café in the capital!).
Origin Coffee was founded in 2004 by Tom Sobey, who spent a lot of time around his father’s coffee business when he was growing up. He could then apply all of this knowledge to his new business, with a real focus on the detail of roasting.
Origin Coffee don’t leave anything to chance. They deal directly with the farmers from whom they source their coffee, and have built up strong relationships all over the world. They are a fully-fledged B-Corp company and have packed it with coffee experts that have won countless awards.
They take their coffee very seriously, and it shows. The Stronghold roast is an intense, dark blend from Brazil which is packed full of flavour but without being too bitter or acidic. There are hints of sugar and chocolate, with a delightful taste of fudge.
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, try Resolute, a no-nonsense classic, with a prominent chocolate and nutty flavour – ideal for a flat white. Or Pathfinder, a fruity vibrant coffee with hints of berries and citrus. Or San Fermin, with orange sherbert and caramel flavours…
You get the picture – there is a lot of choice here. It is a sophisticated range for the sophisticated coffee drinker. There is a depth to these coffees that you don’t get from many other places – their expertise shines through.
It isn’t the cheapest coffee on our list, but there is an extensive range of fantastic coffees for you to work through. They also offer a subscription service.
Perfect for: Serious coffee drinkers
We started this article on the Best UK Coffee Roasters by saying that everybody will have their own favourite roaster, and we stand by that. What works for one person may not for another – that is the beauty of the industry, there is something for everyone!
What we hope we have done here, though, is give you options for you to go out and find your favourite. Whatever your budget, whatever your preference, however you make your coffee, there will be an option here that we think you will love. We’ve even told you where to get great instant coffee, which is really above and beyond our call of duty!
Pick a couple that you like the sound of and give them a try. Our guess is that it won’t be long before you’re taking out a subscription with your favourite roaster. Enjoy!