Award-winning Tunbridge Wells entrepreneur Henry Wilson spills the beans on his popular coffee blog to Adam Hignett
One of the most prolific bloggers to come from Tunbridge Wells has won recognition for his work documenting the economics and supply chain of the coffee industry.
Henry Wilson, aged just 24, recently became the youngest person to win the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe’s Excellence Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year for his digital media site Perfect Daily Grind.
Mr Wilson has seen the number visitors to his website – which he set up in 2014 – balloon by 850 per cent to a readership of more than 170,000 monthly views.
And his site is more than just a hobby, it is a formal business which relies on the contributions of more than 200 writers from 50 countries to keep up with demand.
Collectively, they delve into every aspect of the industry, delivering a comprehensive account of everything from the conditions of the coffee farmers to the supply chain, and how best to serve the final product.
Recent articles have included Is Fairtrade the Answer to Gender Inequality in Java?, How Myanmar’s Coffee Trade is Dictated by Infrastructure and How Micro Mills Help Producers to Have Economic Independence.
“I wanted to explain to people what coffee really is and why it tastes like it does. This means you have to retrace the supply chain,” the former Skinners’ pupil said.
His first experience of what the industry is all about came during a gap year in Ecuador, where he worked as a trainee barista.
However, this was not the reason, initially, why he kept finding himself returning to the South American country.
“I met a girl out there and so would go back every summer,” he explained, adding that this led him to see the realities of an industry the average consumer does not think about.
“I would meet people on the farms and realised there was a direct relation between the producer and the consumer. I became fascinated with the supply chain.”
He started to write about what he saw and continued during his time at Durham University, where he studied Geography and Political Sciences – graduating with a 2:1 following a dissertation about Ecuadorian immigration patterns.
Mr Wilson’s rising profile has led him to be invited to give lectures at global coffee conferences across the world, giving him another platform to advocate what he believes is one of the best ways of ensuring everyone benefits from the trade.
One of the most effective ways of doing this, he believes, is through a process called direct trade.
“There is such an immense risk for the farmers themselves,” explained Mr Wilson, who said they were often left to the mercy of seasonal factors, received little investment and were paid less than they could be because of intermediaries.
“Direct trade is supposed to mean the roaster buys directly from the farmer, cutting out the middle man and allowing them to directly negotiate prices. Over time, this also leads to a better working relationship between the two and better communication.”
Mr Wilson also believes people should be prepared to spend a tiny amount of extra money on their coffee in order to get the most enjoyment out of it.
“You can pay 30p more for a coffee 20 times better – objectively so.
“It is telling that it was one of the only industries to continue growing during the last recession as it is a cheap luxury. By paying more it will taste better, there is more transparency about its origins, and far more information.”