One Question Please: Al Keating of Coffee Supreme

This is the second in our One Question Please series. View all the questions here.

We freakin' love Al Keating. Al is the managing and creative director for Coffee Supreme in New Zealand, where he has helped turn a popular local cafe into a coffee company with global influence. Al is enthusiastic about coffee, but is even more jazzed about people, as evidenced by his talk at the 2014 SCAA Symposium (we realize "talk at the SCAA Symposium" isn't exactly the most thrilling-sounding link, but watch it: it's so great). We got to hang out with Al on Coffee Supreme's jaunt through the States last year, and asked him one question. You can virtually hang out with Al on Twitter and Instagram.  


What is the most important factor for success in the coffee industry for a company, for a person?


The answer, you could argue, should surely be the same whether it be for a company or for an individual. It is also worth defining what 'success' means in this context. How does one measure or determine success?

Is it about size or volume? Is it about profitability? Or is it measured in influence, or customer loyalty and satisfaction? What our interpretation of 'success' is will be one of the key drivers for both the individual and the company.

I digress.

Forget not what it was that first inspired you to work in coffee. Never let the callouses of humdrum numb you to what you loved about coffee when you began.

For me, it was about hospitality, and the magic that happened over a coffee shared.

I mean real hospitality. The sort of hospitality that's demonstrated when generosity pays attention. I'm not talking about a routine transaction between a self-serving barista and a pre-caffeinated commuter. Or a cherry-picking green bean buyer who flits from farm to farm with no intention of buying there ever again. 

Also, hospitality and generosity are not limited to cafe staff and philanthropists only. These are principles that through adopting and making a habit of, one can significantly make larger the size of their world.

No matter what area of the coffee industry you work in; whether you're just beginning your career, own a geisha farm on the slopes of a volcano somewhere in Panama, or have a tamper with your surname engraved on it -- never forget what it was that led you to knock on coffee's door.

That, to me, is the single most important factor for success. That, and knowing what success really is. 

(And having a tamper with your surname engraved on it.)

If you missed the link above, here's Al at the 2014 SCAA Symposium, speaking on generosity and influence.