London-based Difference Coffee Company creates high-grade coffee from some of the finest beans in the world, and is served at the likes of Gstaad Palace, Harry’s Bar, Mark’s Club, Marina Bay Sands and The Wellesley. Founder Amir Gehl explains how he came to be involved in the industry, and how he's trying to change it.
When did you fall in love with coffee? What do you personally find ‘magic’ about the beverage?
My love affair with coffee began quite recently, maybe four years ago. I’ve always found coffee to be quite burnt-tasting, often really bitter. So, when given the option, I would normally order tea. It was actually my wife who first got me into coffee — she made us buy a Nespresso machine for home. After tasting their full range of capsules, I started to wonder, 'Where’s the best in the world?' If you think about it, there’s always a next level up, always a craftsman somewhere who does something better. I was really keen to explore this territory, as coffee was not my cup of tea. It’s been downhill ever since!
What inspired you to get into this business, when I imagine you could’ve chosen from myriad entrepreneurial pursuits?
I guess it was personal indulgence. I love food, wine and cigars, I eat out regularly in Michelin restaurants, and I love reading about artisan growers, be it wine or food. I guess it’s not so different when it comes to coffee. Ultimately it's down to terroir and care and attention of the farmers, across all these categories. So I guess I got hit with the bug — once you try a delicious fruity coffee it’s really hard to go back to commercial-grade stuff. When I discovered the world of coffee, the grading system that allows me to source the world’s highest-graded coffees, and so forth, I just wanted it for myself. The business was really secondary. It’s really down to passion, and I think that the commercial aspect is something that comes as a result of making people happy by producing something that delivers pleasure to them.