A new coffee brand is causing quite a flutter in West Cork. Blue Butterfly Coffee, whose logo signifies the important role butterflies have in pollinating coffee plants, is the brainchild of former distributors of Java Republic, Fintan Stanley and the late Kieran White. Paul Hayes, the brand’s South West Business Development Manager, speaks to West Cork People about the company’s origin story and its ambitions.
Following the 2019 sale of Java Republic to Cafento, a large Spanish multinational, Fintan Stanley and Kieran White quickly realised from meetings with the new owners that there was now a mismatch in agendas and ambitions; therefore the entrepreneurial pair set about establishing a new brand that was more in line with their dreams.
A blue butterfly is usually associated with good fortune but the fledgling company suffered two significant blows in its first 18 months. The brand was launched on Friday, March 13, 2020 – the weekend Covid closed the country – and Kieran tragically passed away suddenly in September 2021, leaving all who knew and worked with him reeling.
Against the odds the company survived and is now thriving, with its own roastery and barista training centre in Fintan’s home town of Waterford.
Paul Hayes joined the team last November with a mission to expand the brand into the South West. Many will know Paul as a Cork County Councillor but he also spent 13 years in sales and quality for Java Republic.
“I was aware of the Blue Butterfly plan that Fintan and Kieran had been working on but, with Kieran’s untimely passing, I thought plans to expand into the South West region would never materialise,” Paul explains.
However, following several conversations with Fintan and his team in the South East, and after returning from a ‘bucket-list adventure’ in the Himalayas, Paul felt the time was right to join this exciting new brand.
“There has been a coffee revolution in Ireland over the last 30 years –when I was growing up, most households were only drinking tea, and coffee came in jars from Nescafe or Maxwell House!,” Paul recalls with a laugh. “Coffee is seen as an affordable little luxury that people can treat themselves to daily so they won’t tolerate mediocre quality.
“Our offering of competitively-priced medium roast coffees, together with barista training and top notch coffee equipment and support, is thankfully striking the right cord with people.”
All Blue Butterfly Coffee raw beans are ethically sourced and certified as either Rainforest Alliance or Fairtrade, with some certified as Organic. Fintan has personally visited many countries of origin to ensure the quality and transparency of the produce Blue Butterfly is buying, and to build strong relationships with the local producers and farmers there.
Relationship building is high on Paul’s agenda too, from growers to those in the trade and onwards to the end user: “I’m very much a people person and love interacting with customers on a daily basis. I believe the best way to grow all of our businesses is by meeting customers regularly, listening, finding solutions and suggesting new ideas.
“Really I’m happiest with my sleeves rolled up; adjusting equipment settings, sharing my knowledge with staff, or just calling in with a delivery and enjoying a coffee and a chat!”
Paul relied on his strong relationships to see him through a difficult first few months in his new role. “Not long after I started, my dad Mike passed away after a short illness, followed a few weeks later by my mother-in-law Eileen,” he shares. “Both were kind, generous and easygoing individuals, much loved by all who knew them. With these bereavements, and trying to establish this new brand here, it was quite challenging at times. Knowing I’ve always got the support of my family, community and friends pushed me on.”
A keen hiker, Paul also found solace taking his dogs for a daily walk on Broadstrand in Courtmacsherry and on longer weekend hikes in Cork, Kerry and Waterford. “I enjoyed the trip of a lifetime to Everest Base Camp last year and would love to take on the highest mountain in Africa next, Kilimanjaro!” he ventures.
For now his busy but fulfilling daily life is firmly in West Cork. “I really appreciate the support of those customers who have put their faith in me so far, and I know Kieran White would have enjoyed seeing the brand he helped create now available in outlets across Cork and Kerry.”