Created out of a desire to support independent coffee producers when coffee shops were closed during the pandemic, Piqant is the UK’s only online destination for 100% ethically sourced coffee and delivers the best coffee from independent UK roasters, nationwide. 

Co-founders and cousins Rosanna Nibbs and Diana Senise both share a passion for coffee and a desire to support independent roasters across the UK.  With half Italian and half Dominican heritage, they both know all about what makes a good coffee and together they’ve been on a mission to deliver incredible, ethically sourced coffee, straight to the door.

Tell us about Piqant – what’s the story and what inspired the name?

The name comes from piquant: pleasantly stimulating or exciting to the mind.

Rosanna: Coffee reminds me of my roots, I’m biracial, being half Italian and half Dominican. I was born in the Dominican Republic which is a coffee growers’ country. Italy is known for its coffee culture, espresso and being the country that invented the most famous brewing methods that we use around the world. That makes me proud of my heritage and was one of the main motivations for Piqant.

With people continuing to work from home, or gradually going back into the office, but not full time, there is a huge market for people wanting incredible coffee that they can enjoy at home. Coffee is not only a passion of ours but also in our roots and we want to bring independent coffee roasters and coffee lovers together. That is the ethos behind Piqant.

What makes Piqant different from other coffee subscription services?

In short, Piqant offers the diversity of not just having a subscription in one coffee but having a subscription in the quiz and obtaining different coffee each time.

We are unique because our website offers a personal approach by matching up its customers with their perfect brew using a unique app and AI model.  We truly believe that drinking coffee should always be a pleasurable experience so getting to know your tastebuds better definitely helps to ensure this.  Once filling out their taste and preferences, the app provides all the information needed to find a favourite coffee: certifications, tasting notes, origins, altitudes, processing methods and roasting levels – with filters that help narrow the search. It even offers brewing advice so, whether you use a Moka Pot or a French Press, you can make the perfect coffee every time!

How do you select the coffees and roasters that you work with?

We are meticulous about selection! Coffee is like wine in its complexity – it’s far more than a one roast fits all concept.  When we are selecting new coffees for Piqant, we really think about what different people like and try to choose flavour profiles that will offer people something they’ll love.

We make sure that all the coffee on our website is traceable. We know that our roasters either have direct trade with the coffee farms or they source their coffee from reputable brokers who pay their farms fairly.

What did you both do before launching Piqant?

Rosanna: I have a background in marketing and Diana has a background in the fragrance industry and business and management degree. Being the Mum of a toddler upped my coffee habit and over the years, my curiosity about finding unique flavours of different coffee origins led me to start training my palate, as I wanted to taste the subtle differences in each. I trained my palate the same way as I train in the gym, which is doing it consistently.

Coffee has always been part of our everyday life, so since moving to London we converted this coffee hobby into my new profession.  

Diana: Before we launched Piqant, our original idea was to open a coffee shop featuring coffees from different origins and offering different brewing methods, but the pandemic struck out and everything stopped, including our project. During the first lockdown, Rosanna was trying to keep herself busy with the idea of still opening the coffee shop. Rosanna started to order coffees from different small roasters in the UK and she spent a lot of time surfing the internet and finding out how difficult it was to discover small roasters with great coffee. Considering the strange and difficult period we were all living in, we decided to adapt our main idea to the situation and here’s when the idea of Piqant arose – a place where everyone can find great coffee from different independent coffee roasters and cut through the noise around which coffee to buy.

Is sustainability important for you?

Traceability is key for us, and we are constantly searching for small ethical independent coffee roasters who can tell us where our coffee is coming from and what the best ways are to brew it.  We make sure that all the coffee on our website is traceable. We know that our roasters either have direct trade with the coffee farms the coffee comes from, or they source their coffee from reputable brokers who pay their farms fairly. 

All the roasters we work with are carefully selected based on their ethics as well as how good their coffee tastes, so whether you’re subscribing for yourself, or you’re buying a box of coffee for a friend or relative, buying from Piqant is a great way to pay it forward, giving indie roasters and small businesses a helping hand.  The Piqant website helps thousands of people to find the right coffee for them and at the same time helps communities in the global south.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

The fact that speciality coffee is still a very niche market, and this has been our biggest challenge, however, we have seen an increased number of people getting more involved in buying speciality coffee and getting more aware of it. We can say that the pandemic, in this case, has helped and pushed this tendency.

What’s next for Piqant?

Our ambition is to become the go-to destination for coffee lovers in the UK.  We are the UK’s first and only online destination for 100% ethically sourced coffee and we want more people to know this!  We are also working to expand our portfolio of roasters and hope that diversifying our offer might include introducing new products and selections.