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Coffee and a Chat with Henry Clifford, DRW Senior Trader

Henry Clifford is a name and face that most of you will know.

He’s been a part of the DRWakefield team since joining the company in 2013.

Today he is an integral member of the Senior Trade Team, sourcing coffees and initiating projects with partners worldwide.

We caught up with Henry to hear more about his role at DRWakefield and what he gets up to in his spare time.

Hi Henry,

Thanks for joining us for this Coffee and a Chat.

You’ve been an integral member of the DRW family for many years. But, for those people who don’t know you, could you tell us a little about yourself and your role?

I’m a Senior Trader here and dip into many things at the company but I spend most of my time managing sourcing and problem-solving. I’m 31 and live in Balham with my fiancée.

What were you doing before you joined DRWakefield?

My coffee journey started as a coffee blogger back when I was doing a Masters at the LSE here in London. When I wasn’t studying I was reviewing speciality coffee shops and interviewing thought leaders in the industry. The scene was quite nascent back then and it was fun to be part of! When I finished my course I had the opportunity to go work for the European Union which, although did appeal, would have signified the end of my relationship with coffee which I did not want. I applied to a few roasteries and importers and Simon Wakefield gave me the opportunity to work in the lab with Derick, who was the Quality Controller at the time. The rest, as they say, is history.

Did you ever have an ‘aha!’ moment in coffee that sparked a love for the product?


I did an Erasmus year in Barcelona and lived with a Venezuelan architect who used to make moka pots every day and it was there that I started to get a bit obsessed.


What are the most noticeable advancements and changes you’ve seen, and been a part of, both here at DRW and in coffee in general?


There have been noticeable advancements in terms of traceability and quality which have been great to witness. What I love about coffee is that it’s ever-changing, and this means it’s a fun industry to work in.


And, looking to the future, what do you think is next for coffee?


We need to grow coffee in a more sustainable way. What this looks like will depend on the origin in question but we need to do better and fast.

The work you pioneer at origin with DRW is quite grounded in community capacity building and environmental sustainability. Was this a passion of yours before you started in coffee or has working in coffee inspired this area of focus?


This was a passion before my time in coffee but it has flourished in recent years as I have gotten to know our supply chain better. We work with some awesome people across the world.


Where do you see the role of coffee in social and environmental change?


We place a lot of expectation on coffee and its ability to change the world and save our climate. We should continue to dream big but also recognise that coffee is just one of the many areas in our life and planet that needs to change for the better. Stay humble.


You’re one of the most well-travelled members of the Trade Team. Is there an origin or moment during your coffee trips that is particularly memorable for you?


I remember eating what can only be described as an Amazonian slug in Ecuador and the moment it burst in my mouth is seared into my memory! That trip was full of culinary experiences. The highlight was having peanut butter Ceviche in Jipijapa which was truly delicious.


If you could pick one cuisine, or dish, out of all the places you’ve been to. Which would you choose, and why?


I really love Ceviche. I remember having some on my first origin trip and being blown away.

You speak fluent Spanish, which must go a long way to develop deep relationships with coffee producers. Are there any cultural lessons from the areas you’ve visited that you’ve taken away with you?


I love getting music recommendations from origin and often listen to them in my spare time.


What do you enjoy doing outside of work?


Last year I started cold water swimming at Tooting Bec Lido which I am really enjoying. I love hiking and hitting up pubs and bars with my friends and fiancée. 


Henry recently wrote an article about one of his adventures, Walking the Skye Trail during Covid, which you can read here.  

Are there any books, podcasts, music etc that you’ve been enjoying particularly recently?


I recently read the Intelligent Investor by Benjaman Graham which is over 70 years old but still so relevant. I’ve been listening to a lot to the Bitcoin editions of The Investor’s Podcast Network and also Comedians Playing Fantasy Football. Matt Forde and John Richardson are geniuses.


Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?


Live each day as if it were your last. And get up early.


And finally, what is your favourite origin to drink, and why?


Ethiopia Yirgacheffe washed. The florals get me every time.


How do you take your coffee?


I love espresso when I’m around someone who can make a good one. Failing that, I’m partial to a Clever Dripper.