What does your tattoo mean? The ramblings of a tattooed blogger.

Growing up, I loved to watch Miami and LA Ink. Watching in awe at the people going into the tattoo studio as a blank canvas and leaving with these beautiful pieces all over their body. Each one of them had their own story to tell, whether it was a passing of a relative, a date of a birth or a piece of art they've wanted for years they always meant something and Kat and the team would create these lovely pieces which were literal pieces of art. I dreamed of the day I was old enough to get my first piece, I would spend hours on the internet searching what I wanted to get. I was still clueless at 18, the shows made it look so simple to decide on something so permanent, I was panicking that I would make the wrong decision. I was also scared of the pain, forever asking people if it would hurt and how much. The honest truth being, it depends where, how big and what your pain threshold is like. For those of you who are wondering, tattoos do hurt, I have a few stand out pieces which I felt like my body parts may just fall off.

It wasn't until I reached 20, that I finally made a choice, got booked in and turned up on that day and got my first piece done on my left wrist which meant so much to me, it was a beautiful rope infinity symbol with an anchor within and it says 'I refuse to sink'. It was about overcoming my struggles and working through the constant battle of my mental illness. To this day, I am glad this was my first piece as it is is so meaningful to me. On my other wrist, sits a beautiful rainbow coloured quill writing out the word 'believe', again this piece was a little part of something bigger in my life. 

I had the tattoos that had significant meaning to me, I wanted to have a bit of fun with the rest, and until I recently had my bunnies tattooed on my leg, the pieces I had were random, colourful and fun. Getting asked but "what does your tattoo mean?" is a question which always strikes me a little as there can be no meaning. I liked this piece of flash from my tattoo artists sheet, or I saw something cute on Pinterest and wanted to turn it into my own vision. I love coloured tattoos, small pieces built up into something bigger. Three of my tattoos are of bunnies which is my favourite animal, I have a few food pieces including a doughnut and the others are just random things I liked the look of.  

To me, my tattoos were something I liked at the time, and whether I turn around and hate them in the future is something I'll have to live with, but for now, I am happy covering my body in these pieces. The colour makes me happy and gives me something that brings out confidence within me, some of my tattoos I prefer over others, just like most things. The thought process behind each one is different and sometimes it really as simple as seeing something drawn up by an artist that you think would compliment your pieces and other times it can be something more personal like a pet.

The comments of what will those tattoos look like when you're old, or when you gain or lose weight, the honest answer to that is, I don't know. I may regret them when I am 80 or I may not, it's a new generation of tattoo lovers and I know I certain I will not be alone. Tattoos can symbolise a journey of a lifetime, and bring stories from within. They can also show some colour on your body. 

My tattoos mean something to me, to everyone else they probably don't. The same goes for most tattoos which are upon someone's skin. For those who like tattoos will probably enjoy looking at my pieces like I do theirs. I love looking at the cool pieces of art they've chosen on their body, and laughing with them about those not so good mistakes they made. It is important to remember that not all tattoos have meaning to that person, and it is ok to have one purely for the sake of liking the image. 

Do you have tattoos?

Lets talk about the dark side of social media.

Ever since I was 10 I've had my own computer, at first it was an absolute tank that you could only use paint and word on, but it was my own computer and it felt great having this amazing piece of tech in front of me. I was 14 when I got my first laptop, the freedom to browse the internet how I wanted, creating those social media accounts, signing up to MSN, because everyone at school had it, and you wanted to be like your classmates, you'd ask for their 'addies' in lessons and write them in your notebook, and if it was someone you really fancied, you'd usually ask your mate to get it for you. I joined sites like Bebo, Myspace, Piczo and Facebook. Facebook was not even that much of a big deal back then like a fair few people had it, but Myspace and Bebo were the ones, sadly neither of them exist anymore. I became friends with many online people, those to this day I haven't met, we spoke about everything and when I was lonely, I always knew there would be someone online I could reach out to. 

I was 15 when Tumblr took off, I would spend hours upon hours looking at blogs that people had created, at first it was all of the bright coloured fun ones, I even went to a meet up with another friend I knew in rl, in Birmingham and we all took a photo together which I had in my room until I was 18. Although I found it hard to reach out to people at the meet as a lot of people were internet famous, I felt a part of something. Slowly I fell into a trap of the dark side of Tumblr, the blogs were less colour and more black and white. I watched Skins around this time too, and I was constantly reblogging quotes about Skins, which if you've ever seen it, you'll know the themes within it are hard-hitting. From following the blogs who were sharing these quotes, I'd fall deeper into their blogs, and looking back I wish I'd shut down the computer and stopped. There were blogs on self-harm, including how to do it, videos of people who felt depressed and suicidal and were sharing their thoughts online. My escape of online was becoming my worse enemy and I couldn't even see it. The people on the site were my friends, they felt the way I did, and nobody else did.

I felt myself being sucked into this online cycle of self-harm and depression. I didn't link the two until I was older, I started to use the site a lot less and things felt better like I could breathe again. But I kept going back, I was getting messages about down people felt in my ask box, and I knew I had to respond. My followers were growing and along with it so was my self-esteem, these people really wanted to follow the content I was posting. The quotes and pictures were eating away at me, but when I started college, I took a step back and began to realise how toxic it was for me. 

I joined Twitter in college and quickly became my favourite social media platform, I ended up talking to like-minded people, it made me feel a part of something again and I liked it. I became part of the blogging community and everyone was supportive. Taking part in chats, reading each other's posts and taking part in cute swaps. Although I still find myself a part of the blogging community, I don't think it will ever be like it was again. The social media I find myself using the most and have done for years is Instagram and as much as I hate to admit it, Facebook too. Even if I don't post anything on Facebook, I can spend countless hours of my team looking at my feed, half of the time just looking at the same stuff over and over and I feel like my brain is melting sometimes. Something doesn't really exist until it is on Facebook it feels sometimes. I am guilty of being a part of it too. 

As for Instagram, I love the platform as it allows us to be creative, I enjoy spending hours creating amazing content and putting it on a platform to share. But it can often take over real life, and as a fellow creator, I know my content is staged, and so is most other people. Nobody really sits on their bed with their toothbrush and perfectly brushed hair or in the park with their friends with a perfectly set up picnic, gazing into the distance. Plus the food you see on there usually has a million and one filters on. I love Instagram as for me, it's an escape from reality. It's great to see some bright and colourful pictures and who cares if they're edited and set up. Take them with a pinch of salt. 

In the current day, I feel like I have a better relationship with social media, but I do often wonder how I would function without it. In terms of blogging Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are something I feel I need. But if I wasn't a blogger, I would if I could take a step back. Food for thought on this one, could you take a detox from the social media? I'm not too sure I could. 

SherbetBox Club: The perfect companion on a rainy day.

Rainy day box Sherbet Lane

It's been a *little* while since Sherbet Lane has featured been featured on my blog, but thanks to the lovely Claire who is the genius behind the box gifting me this box, I am back with another review for you. I know a lot of you enjoy stationery and my last review of the SherbetBox Club went down a treat. Each month has a different theme and is helped to be decided by the members of the Sherbet Lane Facebook group. The theme this month is Rainy Day, which with us heading into the colder months it is a pretty relevant theme. As I am a huge advocate of self-care, this box is the perfect companion to help you through the days when you just need a little pick me up. Oh, and the contents of the box are a complete surprise so it is like a little present to you from you. I'd love to know in the comments what your thoughts are on the box and if you'd like to keep seeing reviews of the box each month, let me know below! 

Rainy day box Sherbet Lane
Rainy day box Sherbet Lane

I was instantly drawn to the book which said 'rainy day doodles' on it, which I was half expecting a notebook to do some doodles in, but once I opened it up I saw pages of step by step drawings, which for someone who is terrible at drawing and art, in general, I found this an awesome touch, oh and there is a bunny and a cute rabbit to draw too, yay. The book is super lightweight so it would be great to take on a journey with you. I noticed the pink envelope which says 'a little something to remind you on a rainy day that the sunshine is never really that far away' the quote in itself is adorable, but when I opened it up I was greeted with an adorable little ice cream charm, which is such a thoughtful thing to add in there. I especially would enjoy finding this on one of my down days, as it is a great reminder.

Next, I took a look at the stickers which had a label on saying 'no rain, now flowers' colour in stickers, which I thought was an adorable addition to the box and I can't wait to start colouring them in, these would be a great addition to a seal card or just to stick to a notepad. Following this, I noticed some adorable paper with paint splatters on, some envelopes and some large confetti, along with a pen. Which I assume is to write letters, I loved this in the last box as it allowed me to send cards to all of my friends and also include confetti in them, happy mail is the one.

Rainy day box Sherbet Lane

Buried inside of the box was an adorable little notepad which has to do lists on them, which I love to create to help myself work through my tasks, especially during times that I feel down, I find it encouraging to be able to tick things off of the list. As the smallest tasks can make the biggest difference. The final piece within the box was two matchboxes which at first confused me until I found the pieces of paper which came with the boxes and it has all of the steps and even the background to create an adorable matchbox scene. Claire also included a tube of glitter glue, which is pretty smart as I am forever forgetting things I need for baking/art, but everything is right in front of you to be able to create a masterpiece. The concept behind the matchboxes is simple, but they look amazing and different to anything you'd usually find in a subscription box. This box is perfect for just about anyone, but as an adult, I found it a great break from the real world (and technology) and I enjoyed using all of the pieces in the box.  

If you're interested in getting your own hands on one of the Sherbet Lane boxes, Claire has provided an amazing discount code of 25% off your first box by using code 'FIRSTSB', so you'd be pretty mad not to make the most of it!

**This box was kindly gifted to me, but all thoughts are my own and I am totally in love with happy mail Claire creates each month!

Tips for creating the best chocolate apples.

Chocolate apples are one of my favourite treats around Halloween. Not only are they easy to make, but they're also cheap to make too. Oh, and they taste pretty good. I have to admit, it does ease some of the guilt of all of the Halloween treats everywhere, knowing under the chocolate is an apple. I decided to share my tips for creating the best chocolate apples, as last year it took me two attempts to make the 'perfect' chocolate apple. So I thought I'd share with some tips I've picked up along the way and hope you enjoy making some of your own chocolate apples. 

*Any toppings go, with chocolate apples the world is your oyster, you can cover them in pretty much anything and everything you want. I went for a lot of honeycomb bites this, mini marshmallows are good and we even decided to put some chilli in the chocolate for one them. Dependant on who you are making them for you can vary the toppings. I decided to go for a spooky theme this year instead of a more colourful theme like last year. 

*Roll them in chocolate instead of pouring it on top, it tends to give a better coverage, as last year I tried to spoon the chocolate on and it was just a mess, don't even get me started on my attempt of caramel apples.

*Use lollipop sticks instead of the cake pop sticks, as they're so much cheaper and you can get a variety of colours making them even more fun.

*You have to be quick when making chocolate apples, as they set quite quickly. It is important to let them set a little once you've put the chocolate on them whilst doing the others, but get the toppings on as much as you can do before they set. 

*Pick the 'right' type of apple, I've tried these with other apples and none of them compares to Granny Smith, in my opinion, I think it's because they're so bitter, they compliment the chocolate. 

*Be creative with it, I would say that making chocolate apples perfect isn't something you need to do, so it's great to have fun with and chuck whatever you want over the top of them.

Do you like chocolate apples? 

Me, Myself & I. {AD}

2018 has actually been a year where I've noticed a huge amount of growth in myself, unfortunately not height wise *forever stuck at 5'3* but with my confidence. I've found myself doing things I wouldn't have done before, wearing clothes I'd of once felt I wasn't pretty enough to wear, speaking to new people and feeling more confident in myself as a whole. This for me is a huge win, from making new friends, staying at my job for 18 months, trying new styles of clothing and even wearing colour, going out more with friends and even feeling like my social skills are somewhat improving. 

  For me, since I can remember I have always been afraid, afraid of just about everything. Leaving my mum at the school gate, to doing my work experience in year 10. To leave my hometown and visit anywhere else. Going to pubs, clubs and even blogger events. I even have a phobia of most foods, including the texture of meat and anything that has seeds. 

Growing up, I always knew I was different. I found it hard to make friends, and I didn't know how to act around new people. Doing sports at school made me scared in case I would fall, and it wasn't the phobia of falling and hurting myself, it was the phobia of what people would do, would they laugh? would they act like didn't happen or would they come and help me. I would forever play out each of the scenarios in my head and it consumed my life. Despite having various types of therapy, I wasn't ever sure how to overcome my struggles.  

I would write stories, and I always would be the shy girl, the underdog who just needed her chance to shine, and it felt like this was me my entire life growing up. I would want to be one of the 'popular' people and always fell short. I forever dreamed of being an author, I would spend hours of my time, drafting all of these stories, especially after reading book after book where the uncool girl became the one everyone wanted to be friends with. 

Being different for me in my teenage years was something I found hard, I wanted to belong somewhere where I wasn't alone. I tried to change myself so much but it wasn't the answer, even as an adult up until recently, I thought I needed to fit in. 2018, has been the year where I've stopped caring what people think of me, I am that girl who has bright coloured hair, a yellow raincoat on and the brightest doc martens. Weirdly, now after hating who I am for the majority of my life, I feel somewhat more confident in who I have become.

"Be proud of how you see yourself, rather than ashamed of how others see you."

There are people everywhere, and I wish I had understood this growing up. The people who are around you now, are unlikely to be around forever. Things change, people change and the world changes. Some friendships last, sadly others don't. You learn who your real friends are and those who aren't. You only need to live for you, and that's the huge thing in life a lot of people don't realise, myself included

Learning, that living with a mental illness doesn't make me any less worth happiness, and that my moods are something that sometimes I cannot control. I didn't choose this illness, in fact, it chose me. I come with my quirks but that's just what makes me, well yano, me. 

My goals for 2019 are to work on my confidence even further, this includes facing the things that make me 'hate' myself, as opposed to loving myself. Keep making steps in the right direction and continue being me. 

CaseApp Review

It's no lie, I have become a little bit addicted to buying phone cases over the last few years. Until a few years ago I always had phones that didn't have any cute phone cases or basically no cases at all, so since I have been an Apple convert, the cases are so much easier to get a hold of, I can't help but buy them. Recently I was contacted by the people at Case App, asking if I would like to review some of their cases, and I was super happy to do so. I often get asked where my phone cases are from so this post may be helpful. Case App offers a variety of choices when it comes to their cases, you can pick premade ones or totally create one of your own, and allow me to give the site a full review of their cases I decided one of each would be best.

I am usually all about the *huge* rubber cases, due to being a clumsy person overall, so using one of these cases did come as a bit of a worry to me. Plus I usually have some really out there cases, my last one was a yellow walky-talky.   I browsed the site for a good few hours trying to decide which of their cases I liked the most, I had to shortlist it down to my top 3 and then ended up going for the Honey Bunny case which is a featured above, as I loved the design on it and I felt it is still out there like my other cases. The case itself is £19 and you can choose shiny or matte for the finish. I also noticed you could make your phone case 'tough' which was an extra £3, so I went for that too as it is totally worth it if it protects my phone. The case was quickly dispatched and I received it in a few days, I chose to go for the Standard Delivery and I was impressed with how quickly it did arrive for that. The fact the case is 'tough' helped me feel more secure about having it in the case as it felt like it was secure to the phone. I would totally buy some more of the cases from the Case App collections, I have my eye on their cuteness case next. 

After I chose my first case from the site, I went on to design my own, which costs £22 and then for any extras this costs a little more, e.g. the hard case. For someone who is quite an indecisive person, this was not an easy choice. With so many colours, fonts and graphics to chose from it took me a while to come up with the finished product. I decided to go down the route of a quote phone case with some kind of graphic on it. The colour was one of the easiest choices, as I went for this amazing mustard yellow and it looks exactly how it did on the computer screen, in real life. Finding a quote was one of the hardest parts of the design, however, I found one that I really liked and decided to go for it before I changed my mind. The quote is 'the secret to having it all, is believing you already do' the graphic I went for compliments the case well and I think they all go well together. Overall, I enjoyed shopping on the Case App website and would totally do it again. 

*As this post was in collaboration with Case App and they sent the cases free of charge for a blog post, they also kindly offered my readers a limited time code for 20% off which is 'dungareesdonuts20'. I'd love to know if you've ever purchased a phone case from CaseApp and what you purchased from them. 

Creepy Cauldron Chocolates

Creepy Cauldron Chocolates

If you hadn't already guessed from the amount of Halloween posts that are currently going up on my blog, I am madly in love with Halloween. It is one of my favourite holidays as I feel like you get to be the most creative, plus the creepy decor you can buy, to me is a dream. The first inspiration I had this year was to head on to eBay to see what items I could buy, this was the 1st week in September so I had plenty of time for the stuff to come. The first thing that arrived was the tray (find similar here) to make these amazing chocolates in. I'm pretty sure the mould is for cake as it is quite deep but I decided to go for it. For those of you in the UK, I'd recommend going to Hobbycraft before making these as you can get the candy melts you need to make for this. As well as a variety of things to put inside of the chocolates. If you want to make these into chocolate lollypops, I know you can get some sticks from Hobbycraft which will be able to hold the weight of these. 

Creepy Cauldron Chocolates

I first purchased some orange and black candy melts ready to make a range of chocolates, for those of you who are wondering what candy melts taste like, I'd go with a mix of icing and white chocolate and they taste very sweet. I decided to make some of them one colour and towards the end of making them, I got a little braver and attempted to make patterns in them. These are one of the easiest Halloween recipes to make, all you need is some microwave safe bowls, candy melts and the moulds. I decided to put a variety of sprinkles within mine as well as edible eyes, but really you can put whatever you want in them. I am tempted to try to make some caramel ones. The only thing with candy melts is that they set very quickly so you need to work fast. I'd recommend only melting one lot of colour at a time and in smaller amounts and then make more if needs be. These took around 2 hours in my fridge to set, and by set I mean solid. With the mould, I purchased as it is silicone it made peeling out the chocolates so much easier for me and none of them broke yay! I think these would be a great gift for anyone who is going to a Halloween party/hosting one as they're fun and creative and pretty cheap to make too. 

Creepy Cauldron Chocolates

Creepy Cauldron Chocolates

What are your thoughts on these chocolates? 

Yankee Candle: The Halloween Edit.

I am a huge fan of Candles, and I love to spend hours upon hours browsing my local candle shop and Homesense too, but a lot of the candles seem to smell the same. Autumn means a huge amount of cinnamon everywhere and lots of spiced pumpkin collections, and despite wanting to fall in love with those types of scents I just don't find them appealing. No matter how many times I try. Yankee Candle is always one of those brands I find myself going back to, I often purchase the melts or the votive candles as they can be a little on the pricier side when you start getting the large candles. 

However, Yankee Candle always has the best Halloween range and I have recently been gifted an adorable set I which I knew you fellow candle lovers would want to find out about. So, the set has two votive candles within in the scents witches brew and forbidden apple. As well as an adorable Pumpkin Holder, which is great for the smaller candles as it keeps the wax contained and looks great as decoration too. If you fancy winning your own set, Wow Free Stuff is hosting a giveaway where you can be in with a chance of winning 1 of 10 of the gift sets!  Both scents are available to buy full sized within the realms of the web, you can find them currently over on Groupon and the Yankee Candle site too. The candles themselves are limited edition so it can be hard to locate these after the Halloween season. 

So what are my thoughts on the actual scents of the candles, I hear you ask?

Forbidden Apple:
Forbbiden apple sets the tone with an amazing bright green candle, the scent of granny smith apples instantly hits you, followed by the smell of all things autumn, it has quite a fresh scent in my opinion, Halloween is all about the candy apples, and this brings me right back to enjoying one as a child, but it has a twist on the scent of apple for sure. I am constantly buying wax melts that smell like apple as they are just a fun and recognisable scent. Plus you can't really go wrong with apple, can you? I am 110% going to buy the medium jar of this candle as I need more than just the votive in my life, ngl. 

Witches Brew:
For the life of me, I do not know how to describe this scent. I feel like it is the kind of scent that can hide out in the back, without being too much in your face. You know when something reminds you of a certain thing, this candle reminds me being next to a bonfire in a park when I was younger, stood in the wet soil with the crisp leaves around me. The smell is lush and reminds me of happy times. 

I am now off to treat myself to treat myself to a stash of the Forbidden Apple candles!

*This is a collaborative post, but all thoughts are my own, and I am madly in love with Yankee Candle, always.

EASY Halloween Bat-tastic Bark

It's October, so I finally feel like it's socially acceptable to share all of the Halloween content I've been working on. The best time of year for my blog as I am so into Halloween and Christmas and it gives me so much more motivation to write content. It was a tough one to start off on, as I have so many ideas I wanted to share. I decided to share with you one of my favourite Halloween creations. Bat-tastic Bark, for those of you who don't know what bark is, it's essentially a chocolate slab, which starts by melting down some chocolate or in my case I used Candy Melts which are from Hobbycraft. The reason I use candy melts as opposed to chocolate is the colours as they're so bright and fun. They do taste a lot sweeter than normal chocolate, so if this isn't your thing, stick to normal chocolate. I then spread my candy melts out onto a baking tray which is covered with parchment paper, I like to use a variety of different colours to add to the effect, so I do like to put the colours on the tray in sections and then complete each section, before starting on the next. After applying the first few, I like to blend the colours together too as it looks ace.

 Once the chocolate is spread out and you are happy with this, cover it in whatever takes your fancy. I purchased a variety of sprinkles, candy eyes and other edible Halloween items. You can purchase so many things to top it, my favourites place to get inspiration from is The Cake Decorating Company, you can view what they have to offer here. You have to be quick with this step though, especially with candy melts as they dry fast. I am glad that this bark looks better when it is messier as it adds more to the effect. Let this set in the fridge, with candy melts it only needs around 20-30 minutes to set. Once this has set, you can break this into pieces, I like to use a knife to cut it up into pieces, but you can break it apart with your hands and that is it! It's such a simple recipe, but can be super effective and great if you're hosting a party as there is plenty go around. I also created a variety of Halloween themed baking recipes in previous years including bark.

Halloween Bark photo

What is your favourite Halloween treat to make?

The story of a fair trade cup of coffee!

It's international coffee day, which of course means, we need to talk about coffee! Until I started working, I didn't think much of coffee, did rate it but also didn't know enough about it to slate it. But when you're working lates or early mornings, coffee is pretty much a must and so much cheaper than energy drinks. Soz, Redbull! To celebrate today, I have a guest post I'd love to share with you about what goes into making a fair trade cup of coffee, which I had no idea about. Let me know if you enjoy this post and let me know in the comments what your thoughts are on coffee. Oh and if you enjoy this post, I previously wrote a post about 5 ways to enjoy coffee.

If we Brits are married to our cups of tea, then coffee is our secret love affair. Recent figures revealed by the British Coffee Association, paint Britain less as a nation of tea-drinkers and more as coffee connoisseurs, with our coffee consumption increasing from 70 million cups a day in 2008 to 95 million cups a day in 2018. Obviously, coffee beans don't grow in the UK, so here is the story of how they get from beans to your cup. And, if you’re a fan of drinking fair trade coffee, that journey is all the more wonderful and varied. You see, the journey of a coffee bean depends on which farm it came from, the grower of the bean, and how it was processed.

Obviously, a large-scale coffee plantation will operate a lot differently from a simple (and much smaller) fair trade coffee farm. Sure, you know about the ethics surrounding fair trade coffee, the issues of pay and the treatment of workers, but it goes far beyond that. The number of workers, the use of wastewater, the difference in fair trade coffee production can't be understated. The process is more eco-friendly and more worker-friendly! As an example, CIPAC's fair trade honey and coffee co-operative in Guatemala has in excess of 140 members working for them. It may be a remote area, but it's a fantastic area to grow coffee all the same. Numerous farmers here are performing a trade inherited from many family generations. There is lots for CIPAC’s farmers to do before the beans are ready to be made into the delicious coffee we know and love. So what exactly happens on the journey from bush to mug? Let’s follow some of CIPAC’s fair trade coffee growers to find out.

Harvesting coffee beans:
Winter is typically coffee-harvesting season for many farmers. On family-owned farms, the whole family might get involved. Coffee ripens at a slightly different time within this period, depending on the climate, the altitude, the type of soil and the variety of coffee. Some farmers even live in areas with their own microclimate, which means the coffee they produce has its own particular and quality flavour! Throughout the season, the same coffee plant can be harvested up to two or three times over. This is because only the ripe cherries are hand-plucked from the bush to guarantee a high-quality coffee. On large coffee farms, the harvesters must travel up steep hills and down into valleys to collect the cherries in a basket — which can be exhausting.

The de-pulping process:
Once the coffee has been harvested, it is moved on to the farmers. This involves the harvesters often having to travel up and down hills and across rickety bridges to reach the end destination, where the cherries are de-pulped within 24 hours. While large-scale plantations use heavy machinery to quickly take off the coffee-cherry skins, farmers at CIPAC either use a small electric de-pulping machine (where the cherries are poured in the top and emerge de-pulped from the bottom) or their own energy. The coffee beans are closely inspected as they’re poured into the machine, and any beans that don’t look quite ripe enough or are too ripe are taken out.

Cleaning the cherries:
Once the coffee cherries are de-pulped, they are submerged in unique water pools for a full day in order to clean them and remove any remaining layers. Some beans will float in the water and these beans are always removed. After washing, the leftover water will contain some toxic elements that mean it can’t just be thrown onto the plants in their backyard. But farmers at CIPAC know what to do – they re-use the dirty water and skins to make an eco-friendly compost to use around their coffee plants!

Drying each coffee bean:
After cleaning, the beans are laid out to allow the sun to dry them naturally. The farmer chooses an area that’s wide, flat, and clean, and spreads the beans out with a rake. They turn the beans with this rake while the sun shines, and then hurry to cover them with a huge sheet if there’s a hint of rain or moisture about. As well as this, they also cover the beans every night, to keep off the dew. This process can take several days, or much longer if there’s rain!

Transporting the beans:
Once the coffee has dried, parchment beans are formed. The farmers take the sacks of parchment beans to the nearest road, where they’ll be collected by a van sent by the coffee co-operative. Farmers in the most remote areas must make their way along dangerous winding mountain paths and encounter huge cliff drops. Can you imagine having to walk along a cliff-edge while carrying a 30kg bag of coffee beans? If there are no co-operatives to sell their products to, farmers often have to make longer, more dangerous journeys to find a trader. Once the beans reach the co-operative storage site safely, they’re then weighed, checked for quality, and stored.

Transforming the beans:
Once the parchment beans arrive at a fair trade cooperative, they are then turned into green beans. This is the most important quality milestone yet and involves the beans being judged by their weight and appearance, to make sure they’re of the best quality. Finally, the beans are ‘polished’, which removes the last layer of skin covering the coffee beans. The beans are then sampled by buyers for quality in a process known as ‘coffee cupping’, which involves them slurping coffee in an attempt to accurately taste all the subtle flavours of the coffee, especially for the special varieties grown in areas with their own microclimates. These samples are sent to the co-operative, so they can easily vouch for the quality of the coffee to buyers! Finally, the finished beans are bagged and sold to an exporter.

CIPAC sells the coffee beans to Cafesca, a fair trade operator based in Mexico. From there, some of the beans are sent to another Mexican fair trade operator, Descamex, who is the only facility in the world to use the Mountain Water Method to produce decaf coffee. Descamex sends the decaffeinated beans back to Cafesca, who transform all the coffee beans into instant coffee and instant decaf. Once the finished coffee is sealed in jars, they’re loaded onto a container, then onto a ship, and then transported to the UK to be sold by retailers such as TraidcraftThe journey has now reached its conclusion and it’s clear to see that coffee beans go on quite the adventure before making it into your mug! And while the huge coffee plantations use lots of workers and modern equipment, the fair trade farmers at CIPAC like to keep it simple. Family-run farms. Hand-picking only the ripest cherries. Drying the beans naturally under the heat of the sun. Fewer chemicals, and far more character.

Who knew that so much went into making a fair trade cup of coffee?

*This is a paid guest post, however, I had full editorial rights over it and I hope you enjoyed the article as much as I did!