What happens when an English coffee roaster, an Irish barista and a photographer go surfing in Nicaragua? This book came about as a result of Yallah Coffee, Foam and photographer James Bowden's recent trip to Central America. Through their picture book and accompanying ground coffee, they aimed to join the dots from seed to cup – through farmer, roaster and, ultimately, the customer. But here are three things they didn't expect from their collaboration (as told to us by Rich Blake, founder of Yallah).

Blending skills adds to your brand.

‘Because James shot everything on film, he was able to really connect with his subjects, as opposed to shooting millions of shots with a digital camera,’ says Rich. James knew that by taking the time to concentrate on the people he was photographing and letting them get comfortable with him before shooting, the warmth would come through in the shots. ‘People don't normally have the time to find out about the heritage of the coffee they drink,’ says Rich. But, through a collaboration with an artist, it's easier to tell that story in a way that people can engage with.

You need to get creative to justify collaboration.

Rich admits that they could buy only four bags of coffee from the rural Nicaraguan farmers that they visited for the collab. That wasn't enough to turn a profit. However, that doesn't mean the trip was pointless – Rich just needed to get creative in how he justified it. So, he made the collaboration, which focused on rural Nicaraguan farmers, part of a wider bean-sourcing trip all over Central and South America. As a result, he ended up shipping 200 bags of coffee back to his roastery in Cornwall, England. Subsequently, Yallah covered most of the cost of the trip because it gained the most from it.

Shared passions lead to great results.

Beyond coffee, Rich, James and Noah Lane of Foam were all clear about why they wanted to work together. Rich and James have known each other and surfed together for a long time, and Noah's specialty coffee shop is located in the surfing mecca of north-western Ireland. Pairing passions with your potential collaborator leads to better results. ‘It's the sort of thing that keeps you excited,’ says James. ‘It's something I feel is genuinely unique and special. I'd do it all day long if I could.’

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