DRWakefield celebrates 50 years

London-based green coffee trader DRWakefield is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, focusing on the history of the company, their long-standing relationships and transparency with producers and roasters.

The company was formed in January 1970 after Derrick Wakefield saw an opportunity when his role at Tetley was relocated outside of London. Originally a tight-knit team of three including his wife Sylvia, they handled everything from trading and quality through to logistics and accounts.

Derrick kept close relations with his colleagues at Tetley Tea and they became one of his first major customers along with Twinings and Nestlé — buying coffee from Kenya, Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea.

In 1986, Derrick’s son Simon Wakefield joined the business and started to focus more on sustainability. His aim was to source as close to the farmer as possible and for the long term. This enabled him to maintain both the reliability and quality of the coffee and pay the right price. “It became known as the three pillars of sustainability — traceability, quality and consistency of supply.”

One of their longest standing relationships is with HOAC (Highland Organic Agriculture Cooperative) a producer cooperative in Papua New Guinea whom they have been working with since the early 1980’s.

In 1992, Simon started discussions with the Fairtrade Foundation, and in 1993 DRWakefield became the first independent coffee importer to gain a Fairtrade licence and the first to gain a European Organic licence. In 2003, they secured Rainforest Alliance certification and were presented with the Rainforest Alliance’s Corporate Green Globe Award for introducing and promoting the programme in the UK.

Trading in more than 70 countries, selling over 1,000 different coffees from 35 origins, DRWakefield (DRW) holds exclusive relationships with many suppliers including Daterra, Swiss Water and Café Granja La Esperanza.

DRW has represented Café Feminino since 2008, focusing on helping women and their families in coffee communities. In 2014, the company started their own Project – 121 – with the aim of creating, promoting and providing direct channels between roasters and small coffee farmers to enter into a long-term agreement.

In 2017, DRW was ranked 107 in the Sunday Times International Track awards, which highlights Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales.

In 2018, DRW underwent a significant rebrand to be more representative of the business. This branding will be given a Golden Anniversary touch supported by key events throughout 2020 to celebrate their 50th year.

In October 2019, an office was opened in Vilnius, Lithuania to support the growth of the European market from their long-established distribution hub. They also have warehouses in Dublin, Ireland and Antwerp, Belgium.

The business today is a healthy mix of all coffees – grades, origins, sourcing channels and certifications – from a consistent and growing supply chain. Around 85% of their coffee is traceable, of which over 90% is certified.

With sustainability as a core value they are committed to doing business in a way that works best for everyone; ensuring they can understand and minimise their impact on the environment throughout all their business practices and grow opportunities for all parties.

Simon Wakefield states, “Doing the right thing in terms of developing our business relationships, is a sentiment that runs throughout the whole company. It makes me very proud. But of course, we couldn’t do it without the support of our suppliers and customers alike and thank them for fifty years of business”.

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