LM: What has been your toughest challenge as a business so far?
TW: Bringing the idea that was living in my head to life! It’s easy to hold a coveted idea back for fear of failure or criticism. It’s also expensive to launch a luxury brand, and we have had to invest heavily in the beans, packaging and marketing activities to connect with the right audience.
LM: And the most rewarding part?
TW: Ha! – Bringing the idea that was living in my head to life! It’s so fulfilling to have worked with some brilliant people with a shared single-minded objective to create something that we all believe is the very best. From our coffee suppliers to designers to photographers and my small internal team, everyone has worked hard to breathe life into this brand.
LM: Lots of food and drink companies are moving to sustainable production methods. Is Midnight Blue taking any steps to do its bit?
TW: As a business, we are intent on being a force-for-good in the coffee sector. We pay well above average prices for coffee so our farmers can work harmoniously within their natural environment. Indeed the Clifton Mount Estate coffee in our ‘Phoenix’ roast is Rainforest Alliance Certified. Our distribution site uses solar energy topped up with renewable energy. Across our wider coffee business, we focus mainly on compostable or returnable packaging.
In any sector, there are sustainability challenges with a luxury brand as packaging is an essential part of the experience to deliver product quality and a unique experience. We continue to seek suppliers for Midnight Blue that are aligned with our mission, and when we are comfortable, there isn’t a quality compromise, we will embrace change.
LM: Do you have any advice for future foodie entrepreneurs?
TW: When your head, heart and gut are aligned, pull a great team together and do what you were always meant to do. In sectors driven by mass production and a factory approach, today’s eater and drinker want more transparency and more story-led experiences from their food and drink. Great ideas feed the mind as well as the body.
LM: What are some of the trends you’ve observed in the coffee industry over the years?
TW: The terrible proliferation of unsustainable pods. Although paradoxically, they are bringing about a helpful focus on different tastes in coffee, which leads to an interest in single-origin flavours. More people seem to be discovering brewed coffee – particularly if they favour it served black.
Italian and French high roasts are falling out of favour with more focus on medium roasts that accentuate a quality coffee bean’s character. In summary, there seems to be a growing interest in the quality side of the sector with more people not accepting thoughtless coffee.
LM: And lastly, we have to ask, what’s your go-to coffee?
TW: Midnight Blue of course. But seriously, the magic in the coffee sector is the variety of flavours and experiences available. I favour pour-over coffee and am loving a Colombian from Monte Bonito with breakfast, an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe mid-morning and a smooth Brazil Santissimo for after dinner.
Midnight Blue Coffee – Where and how?
For more information on telephone:0330 133 0291 or visit their official website at www.midnightblue.coffee
Read more interviews conducted by Luxurious Magazine in our dedicated section here.