This Yorkshire coffee company has taken its family values worldwide

coffee workers uganda
By hand: much of the coffee-producing process is still done by workers, not machines Credit: Jonathan Gregson

For Taylors of Harrogate, sourcing coffee sustainably means working with their supplier partners on programmes that support coffee farmers, farm workers and the wider community

When Charles Taylor launched a small family business in Yorkshire back in 1886, he could never have imagined how far it would grow. Today Taylors of Harrogate sources some of the world’s best teas and coffees from more than a million farmers in 21 countries.

However, Taylors has stayed true to its family values and now aims to bring those values across the world, as it works with those who produce its much-loved daily brews.

Despite the complexity and diversity of its global coffee supply chains, Taylors places a great emphasis on building strong relationships with its suppliers and has been working with them on programmes designed to help the development of local communities, improve the sustainability of coffee farms and operations, and try to tackle the effects of climate change.

Krisztina Szalai: 'We’re aiming to develop and invest in programmes that don’t just provide short-term fixes' Credit: Jonathan Gregson

“Being committed to supporting the long-term development of our coffee producers and their communities is deeply ingrained in our culture and we do our very best to reflect this commitment in the way we source coffee for all our products,” explains Dr Krisztina Szalai, Taylors’ sustainable sourcing manager. “We’re aiming to develop and invest in programmes that don’t just provide short-term fixes, but that have the potential to empower our coffee-growing communities and provide them with opportunities to improve their lives and livelihoods. This is why many of our projects include an element of skills training alongside the more material investments into basic infrastructure for the community, such as access to water, sanitation, healthcare or investments that help improve the profitability of coffee farms or the quality of coffee they produce.”

Supporting coffee farmers to prosper also means ensuring the resilience of the coffee itself

For more than five years, Taylors has been regularly investing in a variety of projects with Kawacom, one of its key coffee suppliers in Uganda. These projects are aimed at improving the lives and livelihood opportunities of coffee farmers in Uganda’s Sipi Falls region. They include investment in climate-smart agricultural practices, coffee quality improvement and agroforestry (which helped farmers gain Rainforest Alliance certification). Then there’s the funding of fuel-efficient cookstoves for smallholder coffee-farming families, the building of a much-needed maternity ward at a local health centre, and the creation of a gravity water channel to bring clean, drinking water to local schools and more than 500 local families.

The latest venture, the Sipi Women Economic Empowerment Project (SWEEP), focuses on empowering women coffee farmers, whose hard work typically goes unrecognised, and giving them more opportunities through training and skills development.

Practical skills: women can use tailoring to make clothes for themselves and their family Credit: Jonathan Gregson

“We’re aiming to support local women farmers by giving them access to training in financial literacy as well as business management skills, and particularly tailoring, a practical skill that can bring multiple benefits to rural households,” explains Krisztina. “It’s a practical skill that women can use to make clothes for themselves and their family, helping them reduce their household expenses. They can also sell their hand-made products at local markets and earn extra income, which can make a big difference outside the coffee harvest season.”

Supporting coffee farmers to prosper also means ensuring the resilience of the coffee itself – not an easy ask, as many are already seeing the impacts of climate change on their crops. Erratic weather conditions are altering the growth cycles of coffee and leading to an increase in pests and diseases, which can decimate smallholder farms. Taylors is passionate about doing what it can to help.

“We invest in a wide variety of programmes that help mitigate the impacts of climate change while also helping farmers adapt to the changing climatic conditions,” says Krisztina. “Climate resiliency at the farm level is a real concern for us, and we are committed to doing everything we can to help farmers adapt to the changing conditions, continue producing quality coffee and earn a decent living from it.”

More than 134 years since it was founded by Charles Taylor, Taylors of Harrogate is still committed to making sure its founding family values are at the heart of the business – and that it makes a positive difference in the world for generations to come.

Empowering women in Uganda

This feature, brought to you by Taylors of Harrogate and Telegraph Spark, is about the female empowerment projects in Uganda highlighted by limited-edition Ingana coffee.

Ingana has citrus, caramel and tropical fruit flavour notes derived from high-quality arabica beans grown on the slopes of Mount Elgon in Eastern Uganda. Ingana means ‘Love’ in the local Lugisu dialect.

Ingana is on sale until September for £3.79.