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June 30, 2021

Steve Leighton has left HasBean, and now I don’t know what to do

My favourite coffee buyer and roaster is no longer running the company he founded. The most recent bag of coffee I had from the company was, well, disappointing, in a way that I don’t remember encountering from them before. And then a marketing email from the company dropped into my inbox, and it dawned on me that it lacked the enthusiasm and personal voice of the man who used to write it — Steve Leighton.

A quick Google later, and I uncovered the truth — he’d left HasBean, and was clearly having a rough time before he left:

For the last few months, I have been dealing with what can only be described as a mental health breakdown. To protect myself i have disappeared into my private life.

And parting company with the company he founded — and sold — was clearly the right thing for him to do, however hard that must have been.

My third wave coffee journey

I’ve been drinking HasBean coffee for well over a decade. Somewhere around 2008 or 2009, when I started spending time back at Estates Gazette’s Holborn offices, I tweeted about my struggles to find a good way of brewing coffee in the office. And Steve replied. He recommended an Aeropress, and so I bought one from him, and some coffee to go with it. And I’ve been a customer of theirs ever since.

Between his videos, his blog posts and his Instagram posts from origin, he helped suck me much deeper into the world of coffee. I didn’t start drinking the stuff until my early 20s, and then went through the slow journey from instant to cafetière through the last years of the 90s and then the early 2000s. And then, partially because of Steve, I started to encounter the third wave of coffee, and that was me hooked. I’ve looked for good, independent coffee shops all over the UK, in the US, Singapore, Malaysia and India, thanks to the world Steve introduced me to.

My post-HasBean coffee supply

For the last 12 years or so, I’ve had a reliable source of coffee I can trust. Steve has a knack of not only choosing great coffees, but roasting them well to bring out the richness of flavour. Generally, the roast was lighter than you encounter from many roasters, and that’s become my preferred style.

Happily, Steve is back buying coffee for an Irish roaster, and is also moving to Sweden to be with his pregnant parter full-time. (He co-owns a coffee shop over there with her). That’s great for Steve — and for the Irish and Swedish coffee scenes.

But now, I find myself hunting around to see if a different supplier can meet my coffee needs. I’m starting with Sussex roasters, as I like to bring money into the local economy when I can. Let’s hope I can find somewhere as good.

Otherwise, it’ll be pricey shipping from Ireland for me…