Young Entrepreneur, Tom Sobey shares his vision for his Cornish company, Origin Coffee

PUBLISHED: 13:54 18 August 2010 | UPDATED: 16:16 20 February 2013

Tom Sobey

Tom Sobey

The growing community of young entrepreneurs, the quality of life and striking landscape all had a part to play in Tom Sobey's vision for his Cornish company, Origin Coffee. In this Ocotber issue Cornwall Life follows his story

The growing community of young entrepreneurs, the quality of life and striking landscape all had a part to play in Tom Sobey's vision for his Cornish company, Origin Coffee. In this Ocotber issue Cornwall Life follows his story


The growing community of young entrepreneurs, the quality of life and striking landscape all had a part to play in Tom Sobey's vision for his Cornish company, Origin Coffee. Cornwall Life follows his story



Tom Sobey, a 33-year-old Helston businessman, has revolutionised Cornish caf culture with his own brand of the dark stuff, Origin Coffee. With coffee running deep in his veins, Tom got his first taste for it aged eight when his family took on a franchise from Ireland's largest coffee roaster, Bewleys. "You could say I was surrounded by coffee from an early age. As a child I remember taking detours round coffee roasteries with my family while on holiday and being captivated by the smells, sights and sounds. After finishing school I was keen to learn more about business so it was natural to combine this with my growing interest in coffee. In 1994 I enrolled on a training course with Bewleys in Ireland."


With his imagination fired, this marked the beginning of the road to launching Origin Coffee. Following a few formative years with Bewley's and some time in Australia, Tom returned to his Cornish roots to cement his knowledge and set up in business. Tom explains: "My time in Australia was particularly impactful. At the time the country was undergoing something of a coffee revolution and way ahead of the UK, so it was here that I first learned about baristas, local roasting and speciality coffees. This shaped my views on how a good coffee company should be run and I was keen to introduce the concept and practices to Cornwall. Having been born in Cornwall, I'd always wanted to spend my life here so I returned to the county from my travels in 1998 with a view to establishing my own company."


Aged 26, Tom introduced his new brand Origin Coffee to Cornwall and the county proved inspirational. The growing community of young entrepreneurs, the quality of life and striking landscape all had a part to play in his vision for a Cornish coffee company. "Cornwall is a magical place, the lifestyle is unmatched, and over the past few years it has been evolving into an exciting hub of innovative young businesses. I was keen to create something that reflected the diverse nature of the county and many elements of Cornwall inspired Origin Coffee. Cornwall is fast becoming the UK's leading food destination and for an artisan producer it makes a great deal of sense to be based here. I tend to visit London approximately once a month and although I enjoy the experience of the hustle and bustle there is no better feeling than getting away from the crowds, congestion and pollution on the way home".


Tom has been instrumental in developing Cornwall's caf culture. Most recently he launched Cornwall's only coffee roastery, producing commercially roasted coffee in the county for the first time. It's another important milestone for Cornwall's burgeoning food scene. Tom was also responsible for bringing the UK Barista Championships to Cornwall, teaming up with the Eden Project to host a South West Championship for the first time. For those who aren't familiar with the term, a barista is a coffee expert who understands the relationship between coffee, extraction times and flavour and who can carefully construct beautiful richly flavoured espresso, ensuring that the coffee that is served is perfection in a mug.


This is where Tom has made his mark, working with Cornish hospitality businesses to create expert coffee people. Tom explains: "I've always wanted to improve not just the standard of coffee but also how it's served. A knowledgeable and experienced barista knows how to make great coffee and through our coffee school we train Cornwall's cafs, bars and restaurants in the art of coffee making. Last year Origin Coffee customer Hugo Hercod won the 2008 UK Barista Championships, which is a huge achievement for us and the county. As a new venture, I'm now working in partnership with Cornish cafs and a design studio to improve the branding of Cornwall's coffee shops, which again helps to strengthen the county's image as a must-see destination."


Tom's business is his life. It's what he's most passionate about and it's clearly what gets him up in the morning. As a previous winner of The Hub's Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Tom supports young Cornish professionals starting up in business. Asked what tips he has for Cornwall's ambitious future business leaders, he says: "One of the biggest reasons that Origin Coffee is successful is the fact that the coffee is good! It would have been easy to start the company with amazing design and try to cut corners on the quality of product. It sounds simple but a quality product goes a long way to selling itself. Another factor that leads to business success is passion. You've got to love whatever it is you're doing because this passion will carry you through the challenging times, of which there will be many! Cornwall has a wealth of support for aspiring young business people, either through Business Link or young people's networking organisations such as The Hub. These are well worth contacting as they offer invaluable information on starting up."



Origin Coffee Limited, Trewardreva Mill, Constantine, near Falmouth, TR11 5QD, 01326 340320, www.origincoffee.co.uk

Latest Articles

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most Read

A+ Education

It's Christmas

Great British Holidays

South West Attractions

Pure Weddings E-edition