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Has Bean Coffee, Stafford, England, UK

Steve Leighton, founder of Has Bean in Stafford, England, says his obsession with coffee began at a weirdly early age: “I remember asking, as a seven or eight year old, for a filter machine for Christmas, and drinking filter coffee when no one else in the house did.”

It was a curious beginning to what would become an enduring obsession and lead to a fruitful career – though not without more weirdness on the way.

“One of the many jobs I had was at an all night petrol station,” Steve recalls. “Staying alert and awake was important, but making friends with the local police was crucial. I quickly found out that if you give night workers nice coffee, they like you a lot. I would have two or three police cars parked outside my petrol station!”

Steve opened his own café in Stafford, but his obsession inevitably drove him onto the path to roasting – building relationships with coffee growers and earning the respect of other roasters.

He was invited to join the judging panel of the Cup of Excellence – the ultimate guide to the best beans in the world. “With Cup of Excellence, you can’t ask ‘Can I do that?’ or simply join,” he says. “It’s the kind of thing that you just get asked to do. It was such a huge honour to be asked to go to Nicaragua as a judge. The day that the invitation arrived, I ran round and round the house at least ten times like an excited little boy. I was unable to sleep for days.”

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Steve Leighton, Founder
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