I Love coffee, I mean really love coffee.
In theatre or on exercise, coffee made the difference. It was hydration, comfort, certainty and calm. It was a reminder of home, and the reasons that we were doing what we were doing.
The first thing I did on day one of my civilian life, when all that I had known for years was behind me and it was time to move forward, was make a coffee.
Naturally I went out and found a job. At interviews, I’d be offered a coffee. At home after an interview, I’d review the experience with a cup of coffee. I got a job, threw myself into it and rose up in the company. Many of those I served with had near identical experiences. But something was unresolved, I couldn’t scratch the nagging itch, I couldn’t quench the thirst. Again, many of those I served with had identical experiences.
The most important person in my life told me that when you do what you love for a living, it’s no longer a job.
I realised that I have two absolute passions; good coffee and helping veterans. I’ve been lucky, in my time, both have looked after me. I wanted to give the same back.
I wondered if I could found a company that would sell great coffee, and help veterans. Either by giving them a small home comfort, or by employing veterans. I’ve no background in business, but my time in the forces instilled in me the maxim “improvise, adapt, overcome”. I believed I could do it.
Making coffee is a process from picking to roasting, from grinding to serving. Starting a business has proven to be quite similar; checklists, things to be done at a certain point, at a certain time. Planning, planning, planning. We took over a year getting everything correct before we launched the website.
I’m often asked why the company is called 50 Cal Coffee – it’s a simple thing. 50 Cal to the military is the pinnacle, the biggest, baddest out there. It’s what professional soldiers aspire to being in charge of. If my company is to be anything, it wants to be the pinnacle – what everyone aspires to.
We’re in our first year of trading, but it’s going well – ex-forces people make great customers; they know what they like and are definite, they are loyal and, although it’s not easily given, their praise is genuine.
We’re serving again, but in a different way. One of the founding principles of the company is that serving and former forces customers get a 10% discount for ever. We want to serve those brave enough to serve.
Our next goals are to become an employer of ex-forces personnel. Either through 50 Cal Coffee, or one of the allied companies that we will be starting. And we’ll do it - with veterans onboard.
Rob Dennison is the owner and founder of 50 Cal Coffee