Patrick Bewley – Ireland’s original coffee gentleman!

International Coffee Day

Last Friday many of the Irish and international coffee community gathered in Dublin to celebrate the Irish man most associated with coffee – Patrick Bewley – who has spent all his working life in the coffee business.

Patrick Bewley (third from the right) and colleagues and collaborators from across the years at a celebration in his honor.

The celebration was attended by long term trading partners like Simon Wakefield from the UK, Arthur Darboven from Germany; David Veal from the Speciality Coffee Association; and joined by other local coffee gurus Bobby Kerr ex-Insomnia boss, and David McKernan ex- Java Republic boss. Both of these leading lights in the Irish coffee world worked with Patrick Bewley at the start of theircareers and, as Patrick said ‘Bewley’s have always been very proud of the amount of people they put out into the world in an entrepreneurial way.’

Also present were dozens of Patrick’s colleagues from over the years.

When Patrick started roasting coffee in Dublin’s Westmoreland Street café, they were roasting just 87 tonnes of coffee a year. And, unlike with all the hype these days about origins and roasts, back when Bewley’s started they had only three roasts, 1) 100% Arabica; 2) 100% Robusta and 3) 50%/50% of each – they were simpler days!

Bringing the coffee farmers’ voices into the coffee industry

Patrick was one of the co-founders of the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe and is remembered as being key in making sure that coffee farmers’ voices were heard in the industry.

He was also was responsible for the Bewley’s decision to start roasting Fairtrade coffee in 1997 when they imported the first two tonnes of Fairtrade coffee into Ireland from Costa Rica.

In 2018 all of Bewley’s branded coffee in Ireland – over 1,000 tonnes – became Fairtrade. This is the best example of an Irish company walking the talk and buying on Fairtrade terms. Because of their Fairtrade purchases in 2018 an extra €400,000 was sent back to coffee communities by Bewleys. And that excellent outcome has its roots in Patrick’s decision to start supporting Fairtrade support back in 1997.

On International Coffee Day it would be great to think that more and more of the coffee industry leaders would recognise the need to pay coffee farmers a fairer price, and real sustainability in the industry will only come about when they do.

Bobby Kerr spoke for all of us in the room when he said – ‘I’m honoured and privileged to be standing here to help and honour a true gentleman!’