In 1835 Samuel Bewley and his son Charles dared to break the East India Company’s monopoly by importing 2,099 chests of tea on board the clipper ship The Hellas, the first ship chartered directly from Canton in China to Dublin. Remember, at this time, Ireland had yet to develop its thirst for tea.
The stakes were high and both men faced ruin if the tea could not be sold. Would tea find favour with the Irish?
Thankfully, the venture paid off handsomely and turned out to be more successful than either man could possibly have imagined, changing the taste of a nation and making Bewley’s a household name in Ireland.
From its origins in the tea trade the Bewley’s business, based in Sycamore Alley near the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, expanded into coffee importation, roasting and distribution and the operation of coffee shops, most notably the legendary Grafton Street Café, which was opened by Ernest Bewley in 1927 and continues to flourish to this day.
Patrick Bewley, great great grandson of Ernest Bewley, remains deeply involved in the business to this day, carrying on a proud tradition.