ETHOS & Ethics

The coffee trade has a dark history, many awful practices of the past finding its way into contemporary trading culture. Drug trafficking, human exploitation and child labour are just the tip of the iceberg, with the real issue (in my mind) being large corporations using their money and power to claim dominion over venerable farmers. Often taking what they want from farmers without ever paying them, looking at you Nescafe and Starbucks. If that wasn’t bad enough the “The Fairtrade” price allocated to coffee farmers hasn’t changed since 1982. 

 

When I was creating Canary Girl Coffee Co. as a concept, avoiding these factors was my number one goal. I decided early on that I should only trade with people I have met in real life, who had “single handshake away” relationships with the farmworkers who grow the beans we use. How lucky for me that Javier, a Guatemalan national living in Glasgow was starting up his company Caribbean Goods, and I met at a coffee event in the city. 

 

His dream, to export green coffee from his homeland, from farmers he had grown up with, or visited and formed working relationships with. As fate would have it, the conception of our two companies had the same timeframe and we were each other's first customers. 

 

Caribbean Goods pays the farmers at least twice the Fairtrade price for their coffee, giving them an income which is actually reflective of the work they do. Since meeting Javier, my rule about only doing business with people I meet in real life has been a cornerstone in the foundations of Canary Girl Coffee.

 

Transparency in all forms is important to me, not only in informing my customers about our clean and ethical trading, but every aspect of business. Unlike most business people, I tell everyone everything. Whether we are celebrating a great month or commiserating a hard time, we tell the people who support us. Not to mention being vocal about politics that affect our local community. I fail to see the point in being politically neutral, as an active part of the community its my job to use my platform to call out any BS that comes from government. 

 

Last but not least, Canary Girl Coffee is all about burning history books and rewriting HER story, we honour women of history whose achievements were conveniently forgotten or passed off as a mans. Our name even comes from the munitionettes who made weapons during WW1 and 2, my great granny being one of them. Its time for women to take up their rightful place, equal to men. It's time to well and truly f**K the patriarchy. 

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Blends - 

Click to discover the stories behind our blends and the incredible women who inspired us!

 

THE COMEBACK

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Anyone who’s been following my story since 2019 will be no stranger to the events of the last year. For any newcomers (Hello You!) let me spill the Tea. Sit back, get comfy, here comes the trials of Robbie.

 

Like any great Greek pantheon, the story begins with a treasure. After a year and a half of roasting on our little 1kg Topper machine, I desperately needed a bigger roaster, capable of roasting much more coffee per batch to keep up with my wholesale, retail and shop coffee orders. After sourcing a 10kg machine, in our iconic trademark yellow no less, tens of thousands of pounds were spent, the beast was ordered and the trials officially began. 

 

Its early 2021 and BREXIT was being officiated. As such Dover was in chaos, products from Europe were difficult enough to import, my roaster from Turkey was in an altogether other kettle of fish. Not only was the import stalled due to new charges (£3k by the way) just to get the roaster through customs, it was misplaced in the disorder for three weeks, put in the wrong line for import and had to re-join the correct line… at the back. All in all, I experienced about two months of delays. 

 

The message came, my machine was on English soil, in a matter of days it would be in Glasgow. Then something happened with the driver, adding another week to delays. When it finally arrived, my hope was short lived, because installation would be far, far, FAR from a quick and easy job. 

 

At the end of summer 2021 there was an energy crisis, my gas coffee roaster needed supply, my shop had gas supply but no meter. With energy companies going under left right and centre, finding a provider who was prepared to install a new connection was next to impossible, at the time I was 27 and the company less than three-year-old. This meant in the eyes of these providers I was “too high risk” to trust with a gas supply. It was now November, upon the 2nd birthday of my shops opening date, the company had lost £10k just trying to keep the doors open, weathering the storm at a great loss, of company funds, motivation, hope, will to live. 

 

Finally, we got our gas meter installed (at the cost of a £2k security deposit, you know because I’m young, dumb and untrustworthy). What followed was a relatively quick connection process. From meter to coffee roaster, by January 2022 all piping had been laid, we were ready to go… then, disaster. The roaster wouldn’t fire up for more than three seconds at a time.

 

We were now at the hands of the company who built the roaster. A technical fault was causing a security cut off of gas, rendering the equipment useless. For the next three months we danced. Take this part off, send it back, no, wait! Put it back on… actually take it off and send it. This waltz of woe was conducted to the rhythm of company procedure, to no avail. 

 

Its now April 2022, a year since the coffee roaster arrived, the company was down almost £22,000, my hope was diminished, my stress levels an all time high. My hair was literally falling out. I hadn’t slept in months. I hadn’t felt happiness for longer. My staff had been let go, I had spoken to liquidation companies, the end was coming and cared not for my endurance and struggle. Finally, I announced on social media that the time had come to cut my losses and walk away, the doors of Canary Girl Coffee would indeed be closing for good. 

 

The fates had a different plan for me. Two days after my announcement of closure, we received a new part from the company who built the roaster, a small box with electrical components. It was switched out with the existing part in under 20 minutes, and like a phoenix the roaster fired up, I counted the seconds, 1, 2, 3… 4, 5, 6… it stayed on. It worked! 

 

If I’m being honest at first, I could feel only unadulterated rage. Why had I endured a year of hell for a 20-minute fix? Why had it taken this long? How could we not have gotten here a year ago? But as the day went on I realised how stupid it would be after all the pain and misery of the last year to give up and walk away when the chance to make money again had finally come, to get back to doing what I know and love – roasting excellent coffee. 

 

I conceived the idea of changing my coffee products to honour women who had experienced amazing comebacks, because like them I had fallen from grace, lost my way, stared into the abyss and seen only darkness. But with my coffee roaster finally working, its flame could just provide the light I needed to see.

 

Canary Girl truly came to the knife edge of demise. We were almost finished forever and my belief in myself almost completely forgotten. But with the hope of recovery coming from the roaster being back in the game I’m grafting like a 1850s chimney sweep, my smokey coffee musk is back on my skin and were on the upward. 

 

If that doesn’t qualify me to embrace a Comeback and ride with it then I don’t know what does. Hopefully we have gained some Karmic Credit over the past year and the next little while will be a period of peace and growth. For the sake of my hair alone, I’m 28 now so can’t afford any unnecessary loss! 

 

Here’s to Canary Girl and me, the Comeback King of Cathcart Road. 

Finally, we got our gas meter installed (at the cost of a £2k security deposit, you know because I’m young, dumb and untrustworthy). What followed was a relatively quick connection process. From meter to coffee roaster, by January 2022 all piping had been laid, we were ready to go… then, disaster. The roaster wouldn’t fire up for more than three seconds at a time.

 

We were now at the hands of the company who built the roaster. A technical fault was causing a security cut off of gas, rendering the equipment useless. For the next three months we danced. Take this part off, send it back, no, wait! Put it back on… actually take it off and send it. This waltz of woe was conducted to the rhythm of company procedure, to no avail. 

 

Its now April 2022, a year since the coffee roaster arrived, the company was down almost £22,000, my hope was diminished, my stress levels an all time high. My hair was literally falling out. I hadn’t slept in months. I hadn’t felt happiness for longer. My staff had been let go, I had spoken to liquidation companies, the end was coming and cared not for my endurance and struggle. Finally, I announced on social media that the time had come to cut my losses and walk away, the doors of Canary Girl Coffee would indeed be closing for good. 

 

The fates had a different plan for me. Two days after my announcement of closure, we received a new part from the company who built the roaster, a small box with electrical components. It was switched out with the existing part in under 20 minutes, and like a phoenix the roaster fired up, I counted the seconds, 1, 2, 3… 4, 5, 6… it stayed on. It worked! 

 

If I’m being honest at first, I could feel only unadulterated rage. Why had I endured a year of hell for a 20-minute fix? Why had it taken this long? How could we not have gotten here a year ago? But as the day went on I realised how stupid it would be after all the pain and misery of the last year to give up and walk away when the chance to make money again had finally come, to get back to doing what I know and love – roasting excellent coffee. 

 

I conceived the idea of changing my coffee products to honour women who had experienced amazing comebacks, because like them I had fallen from grace, lost my way, stared into the abyss and seen only darkness. But with my coffee roaster finally working, its flame could just provide the light I needed to see.

 

Canary Girl truly came to the knife edge of demise. We were almost finished forever and my belief in myself almost completely forgotten. But with the hope of recovery coming from the roaster being back in the game I’m grafting like a 1850s chimney sweep, my smokey coffee musk is back on my skin and were on the upward. 

 

If that doesn’t qualify me to embrace a Comeback and ride with it then I don’t know what does. Hopefully we have gained some Karmic Credit over the past year and the next little while will be a period of peace and growth. For the sake of my hair alone, I’m 28 now so can’t afford any unnecessary loss! 

 

Here’s to Canary Girl and me, the Comeback King of Cathcart Road.