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Member Spotlight: DR Wakefield

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Simon Wakefield in Brazil

DRWakefield is an independent, family-owned green coffee sourcing company founded in London in 1970 by Derrick Wakefield, father of the current owner Simon Wakefield. Last year, one of Simon’s daughters, Hannah, joined the business as a member of the Trade Team – the third generation of the Wakefield family.

Our mission has been to do the right thing in coffee from day one, building long-term relationships with producers and partners at origin. We focus on sustainability, collaboration and quality, which we achieve through partnerships, certification, and in-house projects.

Today we are a team of specialists based in London, UK and Vilnius, Lithuania, sourcing a range of commercial and specialty coffee from over twenty countries for customers worldwide.

What are you working on at the moment?

Tom, Marketing, and Priscilla, Trade, at DRWakefield in Guatemala

BCA QuoteThere’s always something exciting to share with so many coffees in our range! We’re cupping some great-tasting fresh crop coffees from Costa Rica, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Guatemala, which is always a treat.

We have some exciting projects taking shape in different coffee-producing communities. For example, the Café Femenino Foundation, an organisation we’ve supported since 2009, has recently completed a compost and agronomical training project with 136 women producers in Nahuala, Guatemala, through a grant we funded in 2019. In January this year, we started a reforestation and wildlife conservation project in Puno, Peru, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Central of Agricultural Cooperatives of the Sandia Valley, which is also very exciting. And we’re seeing progress in community projects in Sumatra and Honduras that we helped instigate last year.

Here in London, we’re thrilled to welcome Timea, a member of our Quality Team, to the company’s growing number of eight Q Graders after she passed her exam last month. We’re also gearing up for World of Coffee in Milan, which we’re looking forward to attending in June, and will have some fun activities and cuppings to host.

What are the main issues/priorities?

The past two years have been a challenge for everyone in coffee everywhere. The pandemic has had a transformative effect on the industry, and the repercussions are still being felt.

Here at DRWakefield, we’ve seen a large part of these effects in shipping, as limited container availability and soaring shipping prices have impacted the cost and efficiency of transporting coffee worldwide. Our logistics team has been working very hard to mitigate these challenges as best they can over recent months, finding solutions to get coffee to our customers. Unfortunately, high coffee market prices and the conflict in Ukraine have exacerbated these challenges, which, partnered with the increasing unpredictability of weather and climate, makes the short-term very unpredictable.

Luckily, now we can travel, we’re able to visit producers and partners, speak with them in person and better understand how we can work collaboratively to find solutions. For example, we’ve recently returned from a trip to visit partners in Guatemala, which highlighted some crucial considerations in Guatemalan coffee production this year.

What’s the biggest success story so far?

Phil and Mantvydas, DRWakefield Traders, with Daterra, Brazil

DRWakefield has accomplished many things over the past fifty years. But something we’re very proud of is our B Corp certification, which we achieved at the start of last year.

We’ve always been big believers in the power of certification. In 1994, we were the first independent coffee importer in our sector to actively fight for a Fairtrade license and the first to gain a European Organic license. In 2003 we were presented with the Rainforest Alliance’s “Corporate Green Globe Award” for introducing their programme into the UK.

B Corp is an important addition to our certification portfolio as it demonstrates our values as a business and reflects our socially and environmentally responsible business practices. It is a natural extension of our ongoing focus on sustainability. As reassessment takes place every year, it helps us work towards a more sustainable future through progression, measurement, and improvement.

Why did you decide to join BCA?

We joined because we feel it’s important to support the industry that supports your business. Coffee requires compliance, both as a product, but in terms of national and international trade regulations. As regulations develop, you need one voice speaking on behalf of your industry. The BCA is very important for us, as coffee people.

What, if any, BCA committee(s) are you part of?

Jamie Treby, DRW Strategist, at Caffe Culture Show 2021

Currently, we are just part of the Membership Committee. In the past, however, we’ve been involved in Warehouse, contracts, Arbitration. As we look to the future, we will always have a presence on the committees as part of our commitment to support the BCA.

What’s the best/most useful thing about being a member of the BCA?

Perhaps you could say one of the great things about being a BCA member is the networking opportunities. The BCA social activities, such as the annual dinner or the golf day, brings us together with like-minded people in coffee and helps us keep our finger on the pulse. But really the most important part of being a member is the involvement with a professional body that looks after the industry’s interests, particularly when things get tough at government legislative levels.

What do you love most about the coffee industry?

Simply put, it’s the people that makes the coffee industry what it is. Our industry is a unique space with incredible diversity, creativity, and vibrancy. Being a part of this community every day is something we don’t take for granted, which is why people are both the heart and focus of our business.

Who or what inspires you?

Helen, DRW Logistics Manager, in Ethiopia

We are lucky to work with some fantastic people in our work worldwide. So, we don’t need to look outside our supply chain for inspiration.

Whether in terms of innovation, such as the teams pushing the boundaries of coffee production at farms like Daterra in Brazil or Café Granja La Esperanza in Colombia. Or social change like the work Rahmah Ketiara from the Ketiara Cooperative is achieving in Sumatra or Jose Omar Rodriguez at Capucas Cooperative in Honduras. Inspiration, like knowledge, is something that flows through our global network and, we hope, translates through to our customers and partners at both ends of our supply chain.


Henry and Priscilla, DRW Traders, In Myanmar

What are your goals for the year ahead?

Now that travel is opening up, we’re excited to visit our partners at origin this year. We’ve already made it to Peru and Guatemala (find our trip report for more information: and have trips to Colombia and Brazil lined up over the next few months. Visiting our partners is a very important part of our sourcing process, as it helps us understand the real-life challenges and opportunities at origin. Of course, throughout the pandemic we have kept in close contact with all our relationships, but nothing beats a conversation in-person. We’re also excited to be attending more events in person this year, too. With World of Coffee moving to Milan, the London and Amsterdam Coffee Festival just gone, SCA Boston, and more coffee festivals opening, we hope to see many of our customers in the UK and Europe in 2022.

As sustainability and climate action is a key aspect of our business agenda in 2022, we will continue the work we instigated last year in understanding our carbon footprint as a business. We have spent much time in researching and investigating the full scope of our carbon emissions and look forward to building upon this over the next 12 months. Hopefully adding some valuable data to the coffee sector through the process.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter your field?

The DRWakefield Finance Team

We have lots of people working at DRWakefield with different backgrounds, experience, and expertise. In fact, we like to think our company is as vibrant as the coffees we sell. So, our advice would simply be to approach the coffee industry with an open mind. There is a huge breadth of different roles in coffee, such as sourcing, green grading, roasting, quality control, logistics, finance and marketing, to name a few. Each role, however big or small, plays an essential part of a larger story. And we wouldn’t have coffee without each and every person in the supply chain. So, whatever role you have in coffee, you are part of a global community all working towards a shared vision. Which we think is pretty special.



Our thanks to all at DRWakefield.