Tributes as coffee business legend Patrick Bewley dies aged 77

Patrick Bewley, former managing director of Bewley’s, imported the first Fairtrade Certified coffee to Ireland in 1996

Alongside his immense contribution to the success of Bewley's over the past 35 years, former MD did tireless work for the Hospice Foundation and the Mendicity Institution amongst other charities

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4 January 2022 | 0

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Tributes have been paid to the former managing director of iconic coffee and tea company Bewley’s, who has died aged 77.

Patrick Bewley, who passed away after a long illness, was involved in the Dublin institution for 53 years.

He imported the first Fairtrade Certified coffee to Ireland in 1996, continuing the company tradition of sustainable and responsible practices.

“In his own quiet, determined way, Paddy Bewley made an immense contribution, not just to the success of Bewley’s over the past 35 years, but to improving the lives of others in need,” said Paddy Campbell, whose family acquired the Bewley’s business in 1986, forming the Campbell Bewley Group.

“Paddy did tireless work for the Hospice Foundation and the Mendicity Institution amongst others.

“He was one of the finest people I have known in my business life, a great sportsman and a true friend indeed.”

Jason Doyle, MD of Bewley’s Tea & Coffee Limited said: “When people speak to me about Paddy, I’ll always think about the question he used to ask people in the business; ‘What value did you add today?’

“The value Paddy added over his lifetime, not only to our business but to the wider Irish coffee industry is incredible.

“Anyone who is anyone in the Irish coffee industry has come through the Paddy Bewley school of coffee. His enthusiasm and willingness to share his knowledge was always infectious and I wouldn’t have the love that I have for coffee today without Paddy.

“He was a man who embodied the founding values of the Bewley’s business, he was fair, good to work with and always a bit of craic.

“On behalf of all his friends at Bewley’s both past and present, I’d like to share our condolences with his family.”

Patrick Bewley’s great-grandfather, Joshua Bewley, founded the company in 1840 and his grandfather Ernest expanded the business from Sycamore Alley to South Great George’s Street in Dublin, selling tea and sugar across the counter.

The company started selling coffee wholesale out of its Westmoreland Street branch, but its primary focus remained the cafés.

After his death, the business was shared between his three sons – Victor (who ran the firm), Alfred (the baker) and Joe, Patrick’s father.

Joe was the farmer of the family, raising Jersey cows, which produced the milk and cream used each day in the cafés.

Patrick, born in 1944 in Knocksedan House, a farm in Swords, North Dublin, remembered going into the famous Grafton Street café aged five or six, walking to the second floor and having a treat from the menu.

He later enrolled in a Quaker school in Waterford and then entered Stokes Bros & Pim, which became accountancy firm KPMG.

But it was not his chosen career path – summing up his experience as “it didn’t like me, and I didn’t like it”.

The family firm beckoned in 1965 and he joined Bewley’s at 21, working behind the counter making coffee for six months, later moving to front-of-house, serving beans and ground coffee to the public.

“When I started out in this business, instant coffee was only just coming in, and you couldn’t get any fresh ground coffee in shops other than ours,” he said some years ago.

In his free time, he enjoyed rugby, lining out with Old Wesley Rugby Football Club, but became more heavily involved in the business – Victor instructing him to buy tea and coffee over the telephone from a broker in England.

He then became the manager of the Westmoreland Street Bewley’s café before serving as managing director of the company from 1977 to 2003.

He married Cork woman Shirley Dagg in 1969, the couple later settling in Dalkey, South Dublin. Patrick is survived by Shirley, sons Craig and Simon and six beloved grandchildren. Apart from rugby, and latterly golf, his other great passion was skiing.

 

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