Inspiring makers: Bertrand Lucas, My Little Cup
We met Bertrand before we created NUDITEA, at a coffee roasting course in West London. We were immediately charmed by his easygoing manner, his deep knowledge of the industry and obvious passion for his work.
We kept in touch, exchanging ideas from two sides of the same industry, and are now lucky enough to be stocked in Bertrand’s My Little Cup brand, a selection of artisan coffee shops across the world, with locations in Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and the UK.
Bertrand is one of the most effortlessly inspiring people that we have met. His approach to business is fun, playful and passionate, and his business model is truly unique, capturing his love of coffee and intuitive understanding of how to create a feeling of quality.
Hey Bertrand. Tell us a little bit more about yourself…
I was born and raised in France in a small village in the Cognac region. Since a young age, my parents developed the desire to travel in us and to discover the world.
Luckily, my wife Beatrice shared this passion with me so we moved around with our kids, living in Paris, Brussels, Montreal and London. I am naturally curious about the world and the way it is evolving, so I enjoyed meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures. I am also constantly trying to learn and pushing my boundaries, going out of my comfort zone, and training for events in sports and coffee alike.
Which is why I recently started competing as a barista and coffee roaster. It’s not easy and requires a lot of dedication but I enjoy the preparation as much as the pleasure of being on stage.
You have a really inspiring business model of coffee shops across the globe. Tell us a little bit about how this all started, and grew
I was living in Sydney after a career in finance. It was there that I discovered the speciality coffee scene in Australia, while working on an acquisition in the coffee business. Since then I have been studying, experimenting with and tasting coffee every day.
Soon after, I also became passionate about sharing this passion with other people. So I opened the first My Little Cup coffee shop in Brussels in 2014, which is now managed by Antoine, a former employee who became my business partner.
In 2017, I moved to Montreal and opened another My Little Cup coffee shop there. In 2018, we finally moved to London where My Little Cup numbers 3 and 4 were born. In the meantime, Marc, my brother opened 2 locations of My Little Cup in Geneva.
All the coffee shops were built with a lot of processes and recipes. Since day one, they needed to be able to be operated remotely, and that’s become the basis of my business model.
What did you think you wanted to do when you were younger, and when did you find your current path?
When I was younger, I knew I wanted to build my own business, but I decided that I would first need to find something that I was passionate about. At this time, I was studying many concepts and business models but I didn’t know what to do.
It was around this time that I met the owner of Single Origin Coffee, a pioneer of the coffee industry in Sydney and he served me an espresso. I was about to put sugar in it while he stopped me. He talked to me about coffee from different regions and encouraged me to taste the notes in the coffee. I was shocked by the intensity of the flavours. While drinking this first real espresso, I realised that this would be my new quest: trying to understand the magic behind those little brown beans 🙂
What do you enjoy the most about the work you do?
I really enjoy meeting people and making connections over a cup of coffee. I enjoy interactions with customers every day and watching the world moving through the eyes of our customers. I enjoy sharing great coffee and exploring flavours with co-workers and I enjoy meeting other fellows entrepreneurs and sharing questions or new ideas with them.
How do you balance your work with self-care?
When it comes to self-care, I really like the metaphor of surfing. Sometimes you have a set of waves and you need to jump on it to enjoy the perfect waves.
After few waves, you are exhausted and you need to go further to take a breath and relax. But during this period, you have time to notice how beautiful the sea is and the waves and the nature all around.
In other words, I alternate periods when I am full on with times when I relax and think.
Since a young age, I have been aware that I need to exercise a lot so I always try to escape a few times a week to go for a run or a bike ride in nature. This is a great opportunity to get some new, fresh ideas. You have nothing else to do than think and admire the beauty of the world around you.
Do you have any words of wisdom for other creatives or people who admire what you do?
Creation requires a lot of observation. I would advise people to travel, read inspiring stories of other creatives, listen to podcasts and talk to as many people as they can even if they are not in the same industry as you are.
You can also talk with kids and see if they understand what you say…If not, it may be a sign that you need to shape your own thoughts a bit more 🙂
And finally, who or what inspires you?
I have met many people all over the world and have been fuelled by all the stories and conversations I have shared over the last decade. I am really inspired by every human being that I meet. We are lucky in a coffee shop because we have interactions with the whole of society: students and retired people, CEOs and people who are unemployed, musicians and bankers. Everyone has something interesting to say. We just need to listen.