People

Published: January 23, 2022 | Updated: January 23, 2022

Full of beans: Words cannot expresso the role that coffee has played in Jeff’s 27 year career!

Jeff Barnacle, Founder, Say Coffee: “I just love the product and the people.” Picture: Dorset Biz News.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Jeff Barnacle doesn’t just wake up and smell the coffee, he lives and breathes it 24/7.

Not for nothing is the 49-year-old known as the ‘coffee man’ and the ‘coffee guru’.

But then he has been in the coffee business 27 years.

Now Founder of Say Coffee, based in Ferndown, there’s little Jeff doesn’t know about one of the nation’s favourite hot drinks.

According to the British Coffee Association, we drink approximately 98 million cups of coffee a day.

And the Gross Value Added (GVA) contribution from the UK coffee industry to the economy is estimated to be £9.1 billion.

Jeff, who has seen many coffee fads and trends over the years, will happily raise his cup to those figures.

From childhood, a career in sales was his choice of career.

His role model, to this day, was his dad, David, now aged 81.

A Divisional Sales Manager for Bassett’s, the confectionery company famous for its Liquorice Allsorts, his smart attire and company car left a big impression on the young Jeff.

“I just knew that it would be the job for me,” said Jeff, who attended Ferndown Upper School.

It was while at school that he first started displaying his entrepreneurial skills.

JB Supplies – using Jeff’s initials – sold cups, watches and any consumer goods he could get his hands on to pupils and staff.

But cash only, though, please!

On leaving school, Jeff worked for an estate agency and a supermarket before getting his first job as a Sales Executive with Tchibo Coffee.

“It was cold calling all day and I thought to myself: Am I just chasing a dream?,” said Jeff.

However, promotion swiftly followed, as well as a prized Vauxhall Cavalier company car.

Jeff later worked in senior roles for Lavazza Coffee UK, Keith Spicer, Lofbergs UK/GreenCup and, latterly, Hej Coffee.

He said: “I just love the product and the people.

“It’s a glamorous product and I’ve never known a dull moment.

“There’s also been massive change in the industry from the days of instant coffee to the many choices available today.”

In 2020 Jeff’s fortunes took a turn for the worse when he was made redundant, a victim of the pandemic and its effect on coffee sales.

He said: “It was tough and I really didn’t know what to do.

“But two things happened.

“First my customers, some going back many years, suggested I should start up my own coffee company.

“Then I spoke to a friend – later to become my business partner – who said he would back me.”

It was Jeff’s partner, Sarah, who came up with the name, Say Coffee.

Jeff said: “We were looking for a short, catchy name.

“People often mispronounced the names of my previous companies.

“Sarah said: ‘Why not Say Coffee?

“Brilliant – and that’s what we decided on.”

After just four weeks of preparation Jeff, who is based at the Arena Business Centre on Ferndown Industrial Estate, launched the new business.

Services include:

  • Sourcing and supplying coffee in various formats and origins, to suit all tastes and budgets
  • Expert advice on coffee-making processes
  • Guidance and sourcing of coffee machines and equipment

Jeff said: “We got off to a fantastic start but then another lockdown came along and things got difficult

“It’s been a massive learning curve but our customers have been so supportive and patient.

“I really can’t thank them enough.”

Say Coffee now has more than 100 delivery points across Dorset, the South Coast and further afield.

Customers include hotels, restaurants. commercial offices and department stores.

Locally they include Bournemouth’s Miramar Hotel – a customer of Jeff for around 20 years – and Goulds in Dorchester as well as FJB Hotels and, most recently, the RNLI.

“We offer a tailor-made package for each customer and pride ourselves on cost-effective pricing and excellent ongoing customer service.

“It’s not necessarily about having a unique product or service.

“It’s about making the whole proposition stand out in a market filled with similar coffee companies,” said Jeff.

He added: “I have been genuinely humbled and overwhelmed by the support and encouragement from not just my customers but everyone, including Arena Business Centre.

“It really has been the most incredible, and challenging, time but I’m very pleased with the way the business has turned out.

“The coffee business is anything but dull and that’s been proved over the last two years.”