Supporting Irish business is a passion of ours at Image, and it's easy with so many entrepreneurial and innovative Irish businesses to buy from. From now until Christmas we are highlighting Irish businesses or businesspeople that we are excited about. Today it's Moyee coffee, a company set up by two Dubliners setting out to show that successful business can also be a force for good
What is your name, and what is your business?
My name is Killian Stokes. Along with Shane Reilly, I'm the co-founder of Moyee Coffee Ireland. We're two Dubliners in the business of bringing our ‘fairchain’ coffee to people in Ireland and the UK. That’s radically good coffee with radical impact.
How long have you been in business? And what was your mission from the outset?
Shane and I set up Moyee Coffee Ireland back in 2016. We were both big coffee fans and had each seen first-hand from travels in South America and Africa how unfair the industry is for coffee growing farmers and their communities. While we understood that the global coffee industry was worth over €100bn a year, we discovered that 90% of coffee farmers were earning less than €2 a day. That’s less
than the price of a takeaway coffee!
We wanted to change that and so we set out to create a coffee company that could provide a lot more value to coffee-growing countries and that could also ensure that the farmers could rightly earn a living income from their beans. On this journey we met a really innovative B-Corp coffee business, and after a few trips to Ethiopia and Amsterdam where they are based we knew that we had to bring this social enterprise to Ireland and the UK market.
Of what part of your business are you most proud?
We are probably most proud of three things:
1. During Covid-19, we pivoted our business online and begin engaging directly with consumers and started to grow our online sales which meant that we could continue to support our farmers for the long term. In addition to this, we also donated 120,000 cups of coffee to Irish frontline workers to show our support during this difficult time.
2. When we started out, we had no money and just before the ‘new normal’ hit, we had successfully made a profit and reached a number of milestones. These included the ability to pay our coffee farmers, employee salaries and overheads along with expanding our team , breaking into the UK market and securing contracts with substantial companies including IBM, CBRE, Groupon and Innocent Smoothies.
3. Our strong partnerships with Irish Aid, the Department of Agriculture and Self Help Africa are essential to our business, and these connections are helping us to establish a new roastery in Kenya (the first roast will take place in November); to upgrade two washing stations in Ethiopia, and to build two nurseries which will allow us to deliver 120,000 improved coffee saplings to coffee farmers.
Who are your business heroes? Personal heroes?
Anita Roddick the founder of the Body Shop and Yvon Chouiard the founder of Patagonia. Both succeeded at building really successful companies while proving that business can be a force for good, and that business has a much greater and far more exciting role to play than simply maximising profits for fat cat shareholders!
How have you found the last six months? - professionally and personally. What keeps you positive?
Professionally, the past six months have been tough. In February, we were a B2B business providing FairChain coffee to staff in 60 companies in Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Galway and London and then in March the offices all closed. Our business literally fell off a cliff overnight. We pivoted into online and have been working hard all summer and autumn to make things work - to stay committed to our farmers, to grow a community online, to launch our monthly subscription club (The Impact Coffee Club) and prepare our range of Christmas gifts suitable for families, friends and colleagues.
It has been a very busy year, that has felt almost like starting up again but our team has really pulled together and we're still here. I’ve really gotten into sea swimming to stay sane and my brothers and sister and family all have their health which is the most important thing. My parents are in their 80's and they're staying safe thank god. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in September so with the great weather we were able to enjoy a socially distanced family barbeque.
What new perspective (if any) have you gained from 2020?
To appreciate the small things, to realise what's important and of value in your life - your friends, your family, your free time. I’ve also made conscious efforts to try to get the balance between work and life.
Best/worst moment from 2020?
Not sure if it was a best or worst moment, but my brother and I visited our parents for lunch one miserable cold Sunday afternoon. We were huddled up in blankets outside on garden chairs while they sat in the toasty warm kitchen passing us out plates of chicken and picnic cups of wine. In fairness it wasn’t half bad, but hopefully we can sit around together and be warm again soon!
How will you celebrate the holidays this year?
With some distance, some good food, family, wine and thermals all round.
Another Irish business you want to shine a spotlight on?
We love Reuzi.ie – it’s great for all your non plastic pressies!
Anything else you would like to let us know?
Everybody deserves great coffee in their life (now more than ever). My top tip would be to always grind your coffee fresh. Only buy beans and grind at home, there are really affordable grinders available these days! Avoid pre-ground and capsuled coffee for the best tasting and most sustainable option, every time!
Related: #ShopIrish Spotlight: McPadden is a new knitwear brand with a mission to make people smile
Related: 5 homegrown Irish designers you can support during the pandemic
Related: Irish design: 5 Irish handbag designers to know