Yesterday we met up with one of the owners of our locals’ favourite coffee shops in East London. Hermanos is located in Bethnal Green and, as the name suggests, it is run by two brothers, who came straight out of Colombia and into the heart of London almost 20 years ago.
We purposefully arrived a little bit early and ordered a couple of coffees and a croissant before our meeting, quickly realising why this coffee shop is preferred by so many of our locals.
Apart from its unique décor which takes you on a journey straight to the mountains of Colombia, the coffee is next level. We were ready to meet up with the man behind all this and learn more about him and his journey.
Santiago arrived on time, sat down and was ready to explain how he came to bring his own roots and culture to the UK, and how he started creating a coffee legacy for people in London and beyond.
So what is the story behind Hermanos?
Well, as the name suggests, the story is that of two brothers who came to the UK about 18 years ago, initially to study and then decided to stay. We worked in the coffee industry since our early years, part-time during our studies and then we gradually got really involved in the industry realising quickly that this is something that we both love and are very passionate about.
Being Colombians, we have nurtured this love and passion for coffee as it is part of our culture and land, and we really wanted to bring this to the UK where the coffee scene was much different when we first started getting involved in the industry.
After years of experience at top management positions in top companies in the space, we decided to start roasting our own coffee. Initially, we were selling the coffee online, and then we moved into having sites. And that’s basically the story of two Colombian brothers, wanting to bring the best of Colombian specialty coffee in the UK.
Where do you source the coffee from?
All our coffee is sourced directly from Colombia, in different areas around the Andes. We work closely with our farmers, building long and close relationships with them as it is very important for them to be treated fairly and as part of the project.
The farmers that we work with are single mothers that own land and grow coffee to sustain themselves and support each other. I was there last time 5 weeks ago doing exactly that, building our relationships and source new places where these farmers need our help. We make sure to pay them a premium for maintaining the highest quality coffee beans and because we think that fair trade is at the core of a successful coffee business. Unfortunately, that’s not true for larger franchises in the space who tend to exploit those farmers.
What makes your coffee so special?
Here we only source and roast Arabica coffee, which is the kind that grows in Colombia. Premium coffee is the one that we are interested in, which is only found at altitudes higher than 1,400m above sea level. The higher you go, the better the coffee. All of the sacks that you see on the walls (pointing to the walls of the café) are the ones actually used for transporting the beans (seen in the picture below)
And every one of them indicates at what altitude it was harvested. Colombia offers a very unique microclimate that gives different characteristics to the soil of each area and thus the beans that grow there. For example, there is this one area where the soil is volcanic, and the coffee that grows there has a nuttier and chocolaty flavour. We are looking to always source new locations with good conditions for quality coffee to be grown and at the same time have a social impact by helping out the local farmers.
Quick Fire round
Espresso or Cappuccino?
Sugar or no sugar?
No! Never! Unless it’s very bad coffee
Starbucks or Costa?
What can people expect when they come to Hermanos?
We care about our coffee from the time is being grown to the time it is consumed and they can expect to have top quality coffee, which is fairly sourced.