Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with James Gray, Co-Founder of Barista & Co Coffee Ltd, located in Ringwood, Hampshire, United Kingdom.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We make fresh whole bean coffee and kit for home, work, and play. Our customers are people who love food and drink and are about the quality of their products and the impact the production has on the world around them. In simple terms, we are coffee geeks, but we make products for coffee lovers.

Tell us about yourself

Prior to setting up my own business, I worked in after-sales for the Asia Pacific for a brand called Joseph Joseph. I was fortunate enough to travel the world, and that involved drinking lots of coffee. I left to set up my own business distributing a brand called Bialetti from Italy. A few years later, I set up Barista & Co as a modern coffee offer. I'm motivated by making people happy and obsessed with our customers and what it takes to exceed expectations. OK is not good enough; we want customers to feel great when they buy from us and talk to us.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I'm proud of the fact that we have managed to get distribution in some of the best retailers in the UK, such as Selfridges and Harrods, as well as international retailers such as Loft in Japan. I feel we have a long way to go, and my biggest accomplishment is still to come, but that will certainly be sharing our success with the team that has helped me build Barista & Co.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Managing people and ensuring they can meet the standards I set. I don't believe in ruling with an iron fist, but I do feel you have a right to have high standards; you have to follow them yourself.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Research, research, and more research. Everyone can have an idea, but you have to be sure it will work and can be commercially viable. It is a lot cheaper to do research than close a business after 2 failed years.
  2. Understand people are different, and you can't expect your team to work the hours you do; it's not their business.
  3. Ensure you have the cash to grow; success can be just as challenging as failure.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Once you have done your homework, you should have the confidence to push as hard as possible. Doubts will come into your mind, and at times you will wonder why you are sacrificing everything, but that is part of growing a business. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Oh, and don't get too concerned with competitors, you need to be aware, but mainly you need to sell your story and make sure it is engaging for customers.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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