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How the Coffee Gator dream was born (via South America, Cardiff and generic chains)

by Adam Jenkins on June 28, 2018

How come no one else found it as disgusting as me? That’s what I asked myself as I poured away the revolting stream of nastiness and threw the cup in the bin. 

Bad coffee

I was taking an early morning flight and I’d been forced to wait in line for the only coffee available (I won’t mention any names but it was from a well-known chain that rhymes with jar pucks). It was bitter, burnt and it took me all of one sip to decide my morning would fare much better without it.

The annoying thing was I knew coffee could and should be so much more.

It’s a ritual. it’s a passion. And when you realize that, every cup becomes so much better. 

That’s why I created Coffee Gator - to help people drink better coffee. I want everyone to discover the ‘secrets’ to making great coffee AND provide them with beautiful products that make it a total breeze.

The truth is, making your own coffee is a lot less complicated than many people think. You don’t need a chemistry degree, a refractometer or a hipster beard to make yourself a great cup of coffee. PLUS, when it’s brewed by your own fair hand, your reward levels go through the roof.

Let's skip back to 2007 when the seeds of Coffee Gator were sewn.

It was a stereotypically wet and cold morning in Wales. That’s when it happened. But I had no idea it would change my life.


I noticed a new stall at the local farmers' market. The guy running it was tall and stocky with a round face and a big grin. There was a long line of people waiting to buy from the newcomer (whilst busying themselves with feigning an intense interest in the organic rhubarb on the next stand).

The sign on his stall read ‘The Caffeine Kid’. I wasn’t completely oblivious - it wasn’t the first time I’d seen a coffee stand. But it was the first time I’d seen anyone with such energy and passion and a LONG line of people waiting to be part of it.

As I ordered a coffee his enthusiasm shone through like a beacon. He couldn’t wait to regale me with the story of the coffee he was using. He’d been to Guatemala and met the grower himself.

The Caffeine Kid in Cardiff

These very beans had helped him win the UK Barista Championship (I didn’t know what a barista was at the time, I had a vague idea it was something to do with the British legal system). 

I walked away inspired if a little jealous. ‘If only I could be so passionate about what I was doing’. 

It wasn’t until many years later I realised that morning was the first (very small) step towards building something that would change my life…something that would take me out of my dreary office job and living with the same kind of passion I saw that morning.

But Coffee Gator was still many years in the future. 

In the days and weeks after that…absolutely nothing happened. Nada, zip, zilch, rien de tout. There was a similarly unproductive theme even for the months and years after that. The universe wouldn’t give me my next clue for another 7 years or so. 

I was bitten. Again. This time it really hurt - blood was running down my arm.

This is where the story starts to get really interesting. I was halfway through a 4-day trek of the Colombian jungle and the mosquitos were feasting on my pasty, white skin. Nothing would stop the incessant blighters. Despite that, I had a far more serious problem on my mind.

(Here's me putting on a brave face)

Phil on a trek in Colombia

I woke up cold and British, which means I was craving a cup of tea. The problem was there was no tea, not so much as a shop for 90 miles - let alone a McStarbucks. The only supplies we had were being hauled through the jungle on the sweaty back of an unfortunate tour guide. Needless to say, he didn’t cater to the tastes of mollycoddled Brits such as myself. 

When we set up camp there was only one hot drink on offer - freshly brewed Colombian coffee. No milk, no sugar, no napkins (scandalously not even Apple Pay). There was no way I could drink it like that. I was a proud instant coffee drinker. Brewed coffee was too strong for me. As a bare minimum, it would need milk to make it fit for human consumption. At least that’s what I thought at the time.

Imagine my shock - this was not the bitter, acid taste I’d mustered up the courage to subject my unrefined palate to. What was washing around my mouth was smooth and a little sweet. I could even detect a certain fruitiness to it.


That day changed my view of coffee. It would also change my life. 

On the rest of my travels, I visited coffee farms in Guatemala and Vietnam, spoke to growers and fell in love - one cup at a time.

Coffee adventures in South America

But it didn’t end there. Four years later, my growing passion (and frustration) led to the birth of Coffee Gator. 

Back home, I loved brewing my own coffee. There were a few things that impressed me less. I didn’t love the products on the market. They were either poor quality or overpriced, overdesigned and complicated. There was nothing for the home coffee fan like me. I wanted beautiful products that I’d be proud to show my friends but didn’t require a chemistry degree and a refractometer to use (don’t worry, I don’t really know what a refractometer does either). 

After just a few hours of intense focus and application, I devised a fiendishly clever codename for my new coffee project: It would be called ‘Project Coffee’. 

That was August 2015 and a LOT has happened since then. Every day I’m overwhelmed by the love we get from our customers (like this video someone posted on youtube - I don’t know this cool cat - he just loves what we do). 

Seeing stuff like this is an amazing feeling. 

Learning about coffee has changed my life so now I’m on a mission to help you #DrinkBetterCoffee.

Phil and the Coffee Gator story

4 comments
by Darrel on April 29, 2019

It’s my very first time visiting your blog and I’m very interested. Many thanks for sharing and keep up ;)

by Patricia on March 14, 2019

THANK YOU PHIL AND COFFEE GATOR!!!!!

I purchased the French press in December for my boyfriend who is obsessed with; not just coffee, but great coffee!! He was so excited when he opened it. It was like watching a kid on Christmas morning getting everything he asked for. Coming from a man who is extremely picky when it comes to his products, he was just as thoroughly impressed with his very first cup of coffee made with this French press as he was with each consecutive cup. The French press alone is worth purchasing. But the customer service given far exceeds anything I’ve ever experienced! At the end of January, we either lost or someone stole his French press when we were on a trip to Nashville. I couldn’t afford to buy a new one so I reached out to Coffee Gator in hopes maybe they’d have some sort of discount code or something similar to help me get him a new one. Not only did they REPLACE his lost/stolen French press (at no cost to me) but they shipped it to his home for free!! I wasn’t expecting that at all! But we are so thankful! It may have just been a French press to anyone else, but this one held sentimental value and we could not be any more thankful for such a kind and generous act!! THANK YOU PHIL AND COFFEE GATOR!! You have outdone yourselves!! You will have forever customers from Oregon and Kentucky!!

by Pamela on March 14, 2019

YOU, GUYS, ROCK!!! Not only do we love our canister, Coffee Gator’s Customer Service goes above and beyond, exceeding all expectations! HIGHLY recommend.

by Teresa Mayberry on February 18, 2019

EVERY SINGLE team member I have encountered has the same passion and dedication to providing me with personal service that makes me feel like I am their most important customer. When I have had issues, like an alligator that locks onto its prey, they simply don’t stop until they’ve resolved it to my satisfaction. The true measure of a person or a company is how they respond to problems. Coffee Gator should get more than 5 stars

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