A SOMERSET firefighter and a colleague have served up more than 20,000 cups of coffee to frontline key workers during the Covid-19 crisis.

Tom Taylor, 28, set up an online coffee company with Matt Broxton, 28, because the instant coffee at their fire stations "tasted like tarmac".

They set up Frontline Coffee, with profits donated to emergency service and health charities.

Tom and Matt have sold 677,321 cups of coffee so far, with 20,000 of those going free to the frontline.

The venture has so far raised a total of more than £17,000 for NHS Charities Together, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, The Ambulance Staff Charity and The Firefighters Charity.

Tom said: "Our emergency and health services are the best in the world, but they are only the best because of the people that make them up. We strive to be a company that supports these amazing people.

"Me and Tom both have a passion for real coffee, so we always used to joke about how terrible the instant coffee was at the fire station and how it used to taste like tarmac.

"In the fire service after you’ve been out on a shout to a house fire or had to deal with a difficult situation, it’s a typically British thing to do to have a coffee or cup of tea.

"When lockdown happened and key workers were having to deal with the enormity of Covid-19, we felt these people would be in even more need of a good cup of coffee when they finally sat down for a break.

"That is why we made it our mission to get good coffee to key workers working exceptionally hard during these troubling times in hospitals, police, fire and ambulance stations during the UK lockdown.

"Our soul mission is also to raise awareness about the great work our frontline services do and raise money for their respective charities."

Frontline Coffee has taken off so rapidly that Matt has left his job as a firefighter in London to focus full time on the social enterprise.

Matt and Tom got started with one second hand industrial roaster and it is now manufactured on a grand scale in the South West.

They hand-picked the coffee beans to match the exact taste they were looking for and they pack orders themselves before arranging deliveries to customers.

Frontline service runs in both their families - Tom's wife Kirsty is a detective and his cousin Rosie, who is Matt's girlfriend, is a nurse, as was Matt's mum Jannette, while his dad Gary and uncle Ron were in the Royal Navy.