An Interview with Scott Russell, Founder and CEO of Paddy and Scott’s Coffee

This month we are exploring the world outside of Marriott and travel by meeting with Scott Russell. Scott is the Founder and CEO of Paddy and Scott’s Coffee. Established in 2007, Paddy & Scott fuels over 90,000 people per day through their 150 global concessions, producing slow-roasted coffee and supplying some of the world’s largest companies. Paddy & Scott’s are the coffee company of choice for the UK Marriott hotels and have built a company based on growing, sourcing, importing and roasting some of the finest coffees in the world along with building amazing teams and ensuring they become the bedrock of his business.

CR: Scott, it’s great to sit down with you and talk through your experiences, digital marketing and more. To get us started, can you tell us a little more about Paddy and Scott’s coffee, how you got to where you are today and the ethos behind the company?

SR: In the early days, it was just about having fun and roasting coffee we wanted to drink – we didn’t care about protocols or rules. We didn’t even have a name for the company; just Paddy and I delivering coffee from the boot of a car, fuelled by caffeine and ambition. It was at the very beginning of the craft coffee revolution here in the UK and I suppose Paddy and I where one of the early adopters, it’s been a mad journey since!

CR: I personally love your branding, everything from the store bags, the names of the coffees (Wakey Wakey or the Sexy Black Nitro Cold Brew are my particular favorites), the branding on the coffee bags and cups – how difficult is it to keep everything so buttoned up and unique?

SR: Yeah, we’re a young, ambitious team. The Bean Barn is our home and creative hub, its loud, the music is always pumping and we encourage our crew to be brave, its certainly not for the faint-hearted. Our company ethos and branding is underpinned by the desire to differentiate ourselves from the nullified conglomerates that dominate the High Street. It’s coffee with attitude: Promo boards that scream for attention, cups that preach excitement with a powerful real meaning – all encompassed by an ideology to achieve more. We believe in empowering people to be more ambitious. It’s everything companies wish their brand could be if only they had the courage. For us, it’s not just a drink, it’s about fuelling ambition.

CR: You are currently working with Marriott International in the UK, supplying all the hotels and this is where I personally came to hear about all things Paddy & Scott’s. Can you tell us a little about this partnership and how it came about?

SR: Whether you’re a home-drinker, running a café or a string of hotels, the story of your coffee matters. At Paddy and Scott’s, we’ve got the best story of all: A direct partnership with a family who have been growing coffee for generations. Not only do we grow some incredible coffee, but we are also investing in the farm infrastructure and working with local schools to ensure sustainable change for the coffee growing community. Through these direct links, we can ensure that every cup of coffee you drink is changing lives. Marriott International was looking for a new coffee partner with fresh ideas, real CSR credentials and great tasting coffee. Our first meeting with the buying team was a great success and the rest, as they say, is history really!

CR: In 2016, you made the decision to take on a farm in Kenya to create that unique coffee that Paddy & Scott’s are so known for, can you tell us about this and what it means to you personally to partner with Muchomba family?

SR: The coffee supply chain is long and complicated, full of people taking their cut of the farmer’s hard work. Paddy and Scott’s had a bold idea to cut out these middle-men and conglomerates, and to shorten the distance between coffee grower and coffee drinker. In 2016, we took on our very own coffee farm in Meru, Kenya. Working together with the Muchomba family, we have created a unique project to revolutionise how coffee is traded and give more back to the families working hard to grow our coffee.

CR: From everything I read online and all the interactive pictures I see, you are particularly proud of your Paddy & Scott’s heroes. Can you give us your top three tips on building a great team?

SR: Being a relatively small company, we have a close, dynamic team where we encourage them to push boundaries and be creative. Over 50% of our staff have shares in Paddy & Scott’s, these EP’s, or Equity Partners, really do feel proud of their business which creates a unique feeling of ownership and togetherness, they really are heroes! My top 3 tips for hiring people would be: 1. Hire people that are better than you. 2. Don’t create boxes and silos for your team to work in, break them down, encourage free thinking. No idea is a bad idea. 3. When I hire senior staff, I always hold the meeting in a bar or restaurant. That allows me to carefully monitor how the interviewee treats the waiter/waitress serving him/her. If he/she treats that person with a lack of respect or empathy, then he/she has no place in Paddy & Scott’s.

CR: You are of course very active on LinkedIn, can you tell us a little more about how digital marketing plays a role in your Paddy & Scott’s business today?

SR: Digital marketing is a huge part of what we do. I’m incredibly proud of our social footprint around the world. We have over 30 million watched minutes on our YouTube channel with more active subscribers than Cafe Nero and Starbucks UK combined! Our tone is edgy, passionate, on message and succinct across all our channels. It’s also very real, you can’t fake genuine followers, it’s probably the best, most honest feedback a company can achieve. From a personal perspective, I’m still in awe of the interaction I get from LinkedIn, it’s not unusual to achieve tens of thousands of views/interactions within a few days as long as the post is relevant and positive while not being egocentric.

CR: Can you give us some insight into how Paddy & Scott’s is able to seamlessly blend your online personality, for example on the website and social media, with your concessions all over the world?

SR: As I mentioned before, YouTube is a brilliant way to deliver our message across the globe, we use this channel as a training portal and to launch new drinks/products, but we also use it to listen to feedback from our customers. We encourage our heroes to be social and every member of our team can post. We do of course have strict guidelines on certain subjects, but social media training now is a very important part of our team’s on-the-job training.

CR: Paddy & Scott’s have a really engaging Instagram presence, who is the creative brain behind it?

SR: Our social channels are looked after by three key heroes, Jess in marketing, Martin, head of NPD (New Product Development) and Henry, our 20 year old Creative Director. It’s a heady mix of new wave thinking, established classic marketing and energetic fun. It’s probably the most exciting team to be a part of as they get to travel extensively, film our activities and talk to the world about it…who wouldn’t want that job!

CR: To you, what do you think is the best thing about digital marketing?

SR: It’s instant, appeals to a multi-generational audience and, if done honestly, is a true refection of your brand.

CR: In your opinion, what’s is the next big thing in digital marketing?

SR: I recently bought a pair of sunglasses via an Instagram posting. It was quick, targeted and relevant to my needs at the time…this wasn’t a coincidence, it’s very clever algorithms based on my trusted friends recommendations and likes. I can see more goods being sold, hotel rooms being booked and cars being hired via these clever social campaigns.

CR: What locations are on your travel bucket list that you haven’t gone to yet?

I’ve travelled extensively around the world from North Korea to Somalia, travelling to far flung locations in search of the best coffees is very much part of my job, however, I’ve never visited Australia so a trip to see our Antipodean cousins would be on my bucket list.

CR: When you travel for work, what is the one thing that you can’t leave home without?

SR: My Gideon’s bible that was given to when I was twelve years old.

Thanks for sharing your insights, Scott! For more information on Paddy and Scott’s, you can visit their website here: or check out Scott on LinkedIn.

Chris Robinson

Author: Chris Robinson

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