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The ethical brand company “making sure that nobody has a bad coffee at work ever again”

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Formed in 2011 by managing director Richard Doherty and director Jim Devlin, the company rents out “bean to cup” coffee machines with names such as the “Boss” and the “Champion” to offices under an overall mission statement of “making sure that nobody has a bad coffee at work ever again”.

The majority of the brews inside the coffee machines are carefully sourced from small hold farmers while each purchase triggers a donation to the environmental charity Cool Earth. A proportion of each sale of Cool Earth Coffee goes to protecting at risk Amazonian rainforests as well as paying for new schools and hospitals.

Fellow ethical brands the Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade are other major Office Coffee Company partners.

Doherty, who labels himself as “Head Bean”, said: “We approached Cool Earth and secured exclusive use of its brand in early 2012. When we formed our company we wanted to focus on quality, value and sustainability. I have a daughter and we have a responsibility of protecting the planet for generations to come.”

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He also mentioned that the Office Coffee Company worked with clients such as handbag maker Mulberry and clothes group Diesel to work out the environmental benefits made in carbon emissions and the number of trees saved. 

“Our free carbon assessments help to underpin their environment/CSR policies and ISO14001 accreditation. We send our customers a certificate each year detailing this information,” Doherty stated. “It’s going extremely well and it surprises me how many firms come to us having found us online rather than having to cold-call or do leaflet distributions. One of the earliest I remember is Abbey Road studios who phoned us out of the blue and said they loved our sustainability policies and Cool Earth, and that being our customer would be great for them.”

Other growing businesses could reap the benefit from creating sustainable policies but they must genuinely commit to the changes. “You have to do it in a responsible way and have it high up on your company’s list of criteria. It must be more than just marketing hype,” he said. “It really will help your bottom line.”

Doherty believed it was easier to make these changes in an SME than a large organisation. He worked as a sales director for eight years at Premier Watercoolers and then one year at PHS Waterlogic after it acquired the business.

“Premier was a small, quirky, entrepreneurial firm. PHS had a very different culture. It was frustrating not to be able to develop ideas as quickly,” he stated. “I left and formed the Office Coffee Company because of my love of quality coffee and good customer service, bring the two together and you have a way of growing a new business.”

Backing came from investors Phil Langley, former managing director of Premier Watercoolers and John Cullum, former Chairman of Premier and the father of jazz singer Jamie Cullum.

“The middle of 2011 may not have been the best time to launch a new company but our arrival coincided with the office trend of replacing vending units with coffee machines,” he said. “Vending companies were concentrating on workplaces, hotels and leisure with little or no focus on quality but we narrowed that to target white collar offices looking for best quality and value.”

Read on for experiences with Jamie Callum and to find out how much coffee Doherty drinks…

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