A Milton Keynes firefighter and his colleague handed out over 20,000 cups of coffee to frontline key workers during the peak of the coronavirus in the UK as they gear up for a second spike in the pandemic.
Tom Taylor, 28, from Olney, set up an online coffee company with Matt Broxton, also 28, because the instant coffee at the fire stations they both worked at was ‘terrible’ and ‘tasted like tarmac’.
They felt all key workers involved in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic ‘deserved a decent cup of coffee’. The young founders set up Frontline Coffee with its profits donated to emergency service and health charities.
The pair has sold 4741.25kg of coffee so far which at 7g a cup is the equivalent of 677,321 cups of coffee with 20,000 of those going direct to the frontline for free during the UK lockdown in the spring.
Frontline Coffee aims to support frontline charities ‘one coffee bean at a time’ and has so far raised over £17,000 with donations made to NHS Charities Together, the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution), TASC (The Ambulance Staff Charity) and The Firefighters Charity.
Tom said: “Our emergency and health services are the best in the world, but they are only the best because of the people that make them up. We strive to be a company that supports these amazing people.
“Me and Tom both have a passion for real coffee so we always used to joke about how terrible the instant coffee was at the fire station and how it used to taste like tarmac.
“In the fire service after you’ve been out on a ‘shout’ to a house fire or had to deal with a difficult situation, it’s a typically British thing to do to have a coffee or cup of tea.
“When lockdown happened and key workers were having to deal with the enormity of Covid-19, we felt these people would be in even more need of a good cup of coffee when they finally sat down for a break.
“That is why we made it our mission to get good coffee to key workers working exceptionally hard during these troubling times in hospitals, police, fire and ambulance stations during the UK lockdown.
“Our soul mission is also to raise awareness about the great work our frontline services do and raise money for their respective charities. We’re absolutely delighted to have raised more than £17,000 so far.”
Frontline Coffee has taken off so rapidly that Matt has left his job as a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade to focus on their social enterprise full-time.
Matt and Tom’s collection includes a blend for each emergency service such as First Response supporting TASC, the Bevan Blend for NHS Charities Together named after its creator, Aneurin Bevan and The Thin Red Line for The Firefighters Charity and more. Frontline Coffee also sell grinders, brewing kits, specialist tea and merchandise.
The pair got started with one second hand industrial roaster and it is now manufactured on a grand scale in the south west of England. Matt and Tom hand-picked the coffee beans to match the exact taste the pair were looking for. They hand-pack orders themselves before arranging deliveries to customers.
Matt said: “We never expected Frontline Coffee to take off like this but it grew legs so we had to make a decision that one of us would have to take it on full-time. We decided that Matt would be better pushing it further on a day-to-day basis as he had created the website and runs all of our social media.
“We didn’t want to look back in 10 years’ time and say ‘what if?’. We had spoken quite a few times about setting up something for charity and giving something back. The sudden arrival of Covid-19 brought Frontline Coffee forward quicker than either of us ever imagined. It has just been an amazing journey so far.”
Working in the Frontline services clearly runs in both families. Matt’s mum, Jannette was a nurse, and his Dad, Gary and uncle, Ron, were both in the Royal Navy, while girlfriend Rosie, who is Tom’s cousin, is also a nurse. Tom’s wife, Kirsty, meanwhile, is a police detective.
Matt added: “Both mine and Tom’s families both have a history of working for frontline services so I guess we all have it in our blood to help people. Now more than ever, we aim to support our key workers through this next set of challenging times.”