A Man with a Van and a Plan…
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the story of how Karl Purdy turned his roadside coffee truck into one of Dublin's favorite boutique coffee chains

Probably everyone has faced setbacks in life. Most of us know what it’s like to fail and pick ourselves up again. We always stand back up on our feet because we hope that one day we will  reap the rewards of our hard work, one day all the setbacks will make sense and we will come out better than we could have imagined. This is why we love stories of redemption, and why we have fallen in love with the story of our customer, CoffeeAngel.

photo courtesy of CoffeeAngel

Today as CoffeeAngel is touted as one of Dublin’s most popular cafes, it might appear on the outside that owner Karl Purdy had it all figured out right from the start. In reality, Karl’s story was far from easy. It took a lot of hard lessons and resilience for Karl to reach the place he has today.

So what’s the story?

Purdy didn’t actually start his career in hospitality. In fact he had a dream to become a famous photo journalist. This dream led him to a career covering the Northern Ireland uprisings, which allowed him to witness and document one of the most important moments in Ireland’s history. However,  once Karl faced a real threat to his mortality, he knew it was time to start a new path. Inspired by the boutique coffee shops he frequented abroad, Karl opened his first cafe in Ireland.

A massive success, Karl sold the business a couple of years later at a profit and opened his first full service restaurant. Although his restaurant gained recognition for the food and the ambiance, financially the business struggled and after two years and a substantial debt, Karl was forced to go out of business.



One would think that after such a huge hit, one would forgo the hospitality industry all together- but not Karl.  Despite this huge setback, he didn’t let him stop him. With his determination, he used what little money he had left to rent a van that he could convert into a mobile coffee shop.

photo courtesy of CoffeeAngel

For the next eight years, Karl sold coffee out of a converted van along the beach coast. In 2011 when  the real estate market prices dropped, Karl bought CofffeAngel’s first brick and mortar location. The first location was a instant hit. With a massive following from his days in the van, quality products and attention to service, it wasn’t long before CoffeeAngel became one of the most revered and popular cafes in Dublin. By 2018, Karl and his team expanded to five locations and continued to gain praise for their work.

What does Karl attribute to his new found success? ” I think I was very lucky when I opened my first business because it was a good idea and the concept took it far, but I learned from my restaurant venture that a good concept alone is not enough. You have to understand the business side of running a restaurant. You must know all of your figures, the value of your inventory, how much you are selling. If you ignore these numbers, your business can get out of hand. That’s why I invest in technology- that’s why my POS system and back of house management tool matter to me, they keep the business organized, they keep me informed.”

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