Skylark Coffee sprang from a desire to produce extraordinary coffee while helping to repair both environmental damage and human exploitation — some of it inherent to the coffee trade. We bring a wealth of speciality coffee experience in nearly every aspect of the industry while insisting on a fairer, more inclusive way to drink coffee and conserve nature.
Our Probat roaster spins in the stable yard across the pond from the Buncton Manor supported house at the foot of the South Downs on The Wiston Estate. Skylark provides one of many ways that Buncton residents can move into sustainable, productive work and living.
In this context, we ultimately want to reimagine every stage of the coffee supply chain to be more just and interdependent. We also produce extraordinarily good coffee, thanks to savvy buying, roasting and relationships.
Micah Sherer is our head roaster and buyer. He brings experience opening successful coffee businesses and managing teams in multiple countries, working to find better ways of supporting coffee producers in both Africa and South America, researching the power dynamics of coffee supply chains and competing as an elite barista.
Ben Szobody oversees Skylark. He is a former political and business journalist in the U.S. and an early coffee blogger. He co-published the coffee magazine Longberry and contributed research to James Hoffmann’s The World Atlas of Coffee. He also founded Pro Baristas, which has trained and mentored more than 1,000 people for coffee jobs and other careers. He manages Rock Farm and Florence Road Market.
These projects all sit within the charity umbrella of One Church Brighton, which works with marginalised people across Sussex.
In the short term, we’re using our coffee relationships to challenge coffee trading norms — we pay top specialty prices at twice the Fair Trade rate or more, then donate another £1 per kilo to conservation and empowerment efforts at home and in coffee-producing communities. These are the first steps in a long-term process to challenge the power dynamics in the value chain and work toward a more equitable and transparent system.
In addition, all of the proceeds from Skylark fund the work at Buncton and connected projects.
We have the support of some excellent artists in this effort. Jackie Morris painted our skylarks and Robert Macfarlane wrote the poetry that appears on our bags and website. Their book, The Lost Words, helped inspire our focus on the natural world and our choice of a brand name. We consider ourselves lucky to hear the unending skylark songs just outside our roasting barn.
Katherine Heath does photography for Skylark, and James Walker designed our brand identity.