Balance Coffee: Startup Interview

Balance Coffee is a sustainable coffee company that supplies some of the highest grade of speciality coffee to coffee lovers across the UK. Their coffee subscription service is most popular across coffee newbies looking to learn about and explore the world of coffee as well as being popular with home baristas. Balance provides a range of small-batch coffees from around the world. They change frequently, not only because coffee is seasonal, but also because high-quality coffees can only be produced in small batches. Just like enjoying seasonal produce, there is constant excitement every time our customers receive a new coffee that they haven’t tried before

They also run Balance Barista School, which provides educational resources including brew guides, coffee recipes, and useful tips for creating the perfect coffee.


Who Are Balance Coffee?

James Bellis is the caffeine-fuelled founder of Balance Coffee! He started off in the coffee industry at one of the UK’s largest coffee companies as a Barista Trainer. In his early days he helped train a wide range of businesses across the UK become experts in coffee working with brands such as Tossed UK, Corinthia Hotel London & Waitrose. I went from disliking coffee (yes, really!) to coffee becoming an essential part of my life and daily routine. From there, I went to Sanremo UK, a world-famous Italian espresso machine manufacturer, and then, exactly 4 weeks after the UK went into the first 2020 lockdown, I created and launched Balance Coffee.

What Inspired You to Start Balance Coffee?

Having worked in the coffee industry for over 8 years, I wanted to use my experience in the industry as a tool for change. Not only did I want to create a coffee brand which inspired people, I also wanted to create a company that was sustainable right to its core. I wanted to go beyond simply providing ethically soured coffee. With Balance, I wanted to ensure that for every coffee sold, we actively planted trees to offset harmful Co2 (in 2020 we planted just under 200 trees), we donate to a coffee charity (Project Waterfall) as well as providing the coffee farmers we work with a sustainable wage to improve their livelihood.

What Have Been the Biggest Challenges Running a Coffee-Based Company?

There are definitely challenges when running a coffee company. First of all, a huge part of coffee is how it tastes and smells; that’s incredibly hard to showcase online! You can describe chocolate notes, fruit notes or bright acidity, but it’s not until you taste the coffee that you can really understand the full experience of the flavours on offer.

It’s also vital that the coffee is brewed well. It’s easy to ruin even the best coffee if you don’t have the right knowledge or equipment. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to create Balance Barista School, our online coffee school for aspiring home baristas. We provide educational content to people at home to help inspire them and learn about the different ways you can enjoy and brew coffee. I can’t be there to make the perfect coffee for my customers, so teaching them how to do it themselves is the next best thing!

How and Why do you Think People’s Attitudes to Coffee Have Changed in the UK Over Recent Years?

Traditionally, you’d think that the UK is all about tea, but that’s not the case anymore!

We now drink around 95 million cups of coffee per day. I think that people have become more regular coffee drinkers for a few reasons. Firstly, nowadays there are loads of high-quality coffee shops to choose from, whether it’s a high street brand or an independent café. Secondly, we’re all living busy lives, and coffee and caffeine fits into them incredibly well. The rise in speciality coffee sector over the last 10 years means that coffee has become an experience similar to wine, tasting unique characteristics from each origin, rather than just a drink consumed for caffeine’s energy boosting effects.

When it Comes to Coffee, Are People More Selective Than Ever?

Absolutely! I think that people are understanding that coffee is good for more than just a caffeine-boost. Instead, coffee now has the appreciation that wine does due to the unique flavour characteristics affected by elements such as conditions it’s grown in, varieties and altitude. But it’s not just about flavour. People are becoming increasingly interested in where the coffee itself is from, and whether it has been ethically and sustainably grown. We’ve gone beyond simply looking for Organic or Fairtrade coffee, sourcing speciality grade. Coffee allows us help showcase the amazing work the farm owners are doing to produce such great coffee. This is why we share detailed information such as the region, farm name and names of the owners.

How Has the UK’s Coffee Scene Changed in Recent Times?

I think that the fact that people in the UK have become more discerning during recent years. Historically, British people used to drink instant coffee because that’s all we knew. We had an education gap which has now evolved considerably over recent years. This pushed younger generations to explore the vast array of flavours inside the world of speciality coffee. It’s an incredibly exciting time for anyone who loves coffee!

Where Can We Find You?

You can visit our website Balance Coffee. Or find us on socials via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.