Kenyan-born Jeremy Block is the Chairman of C. Dorman Limited. Before he became involved with the Dormans brand, he admits he couldn’t tell the difference between tea and coffee. Now 28 years into his time at the company, he is quite a bit more than a coffee connoisseur having been in a variety of departments; from accounts to training under Ellen Dorman herself. The way he takes his coffee tells us that he’s a highly focused and disciplined person who has high standards for product execution but also enjoys some down time.
How do you take your morning coffee?
Straight black or espresso. Sometimes with cream.
What’s your morning routine?
I always stretch for about 20 minutes every morning. I have a dodgy back. I think we all have dodgy backs – we were meant to walk on all fours… Probably then a personal training session at 6:30am. Then all the usuals: shaving, showering, breakfast and coming to the office.
What’s your favourite pastry?
I try to stay off pastries actually, because I have to watch my weight. Although, once in a while, a really good croissant is a great treat.
What’s your ideal way to take a coffee after a meal?
I no longer have coffee in the evenings. Once you get to a certain age, it does start to affect your sleep.
So maybe after lunch sometimes, I’ll have an espresso.
Why did you choose the coffee industry?
I didn’t choose it. I was really just in the right place at the right time. Dormans was having some difficulty and, as a Kenyan, I took a 50% stake. So it was just as an investor in the beginning. After a short while the then-owner wanted to leave the company. So I said, “let me have a go”. He said “sure, as long as you commit to one year” and that was 28 years ago! I started out in the accounts department then decide it was important to learn about the quality of our products.
What are some of the most valuable lessons you learnt from working with Ellen Dorman?
Don’t compromise on quality. In coffee you have a huge range of quality. What is absolutely imperative is that when you promise to deliver x result, you deliver x result. You don’t deliver x minus one or even x plus one.
What are some of the things that inspire you to keep going every day?
It’s not a dress rehearsal. You’ve only got one life, live it. That means keeping fit and healthy so you can do it.
Is there anyone you still look up to?
Lots of people. I aspire to people who manage to find a balance in life. Not all work, not all play, but a good balance.