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The Wales Food and Drink Awards 2022 - Shortlist

Nov 15, 2023 (Updated on May 24, 2024)

20th April 2022

Scott Otten talks about his journey from professional rugby player to full-time managing director of SO Coffee

'I started SO Coffee in March 2017 whilst playing professional rugby for the Ospreys. After ten years at the club, during January 2021 I sustained an injury whilst playing which led to 5 scans, 9 weeks in a neck brace and at the age of 26 I had to retire on medical grounds. The thought of disablement or potential death was frightening. I thanked my younger self that I started SO Coffee. During my second day in the neck brace not knowing if I was going to retire I started rebranding SO Coffee and taught myself new skills on how to scale the brand and business. I then found out the bad news. Ever since I had to stop playing rugby, my business was at the forefront of my mind, generating new leads, new partnerships and demonstrating what the brand of SO Coffee really means. During the 2021/22 financial year we managed to grow our turnover by 237.63% and sold over 173,373 cups of coffee. We raised £3,112 for charity, £3,650 for the local community, supporting campaigns, events, running our own golf day and donating £1 of every online order on our website. We volunteered 68 hours to both charity and the community, and donated 5,080 cups of coffee to charity, community and our partners. We have already planned to reach recording breaking results in the 2022/23 financial year and we will continue to grow our brand, business and demonstrate our core morals and values. Being Welsh always comes with a strong sense of pride, especially being part of a rugby set up. So it was important to me to make our products as Welsh as possible, although growing coffee beans in Wales is not something we can achieve, we made sure over that last year our coffee was ethically sourced and roasted in Wales to help improve the local economy. We will be announcing our fully sustainable product in the next coming months, which is roasted and manufactured in Wales, including the outer packaging. Our business is built on strong ethical and moral values, and we will continue to make positive environmental decisions with the aim of completing our B-Corp accreditation within the next 18 months'

Scott briefly discusses his battle with mental health

'The subsequent weeks following the injury, I had a huge amount of support from the rugby family. 9 months later I broke down and cried in my kitchen because of the lack of coming to terms with what had happened. I am not naive, but coming out of an institutionalised environment after ten years was a sink or swim situation. It wasn't the rugby I missed, but the support surrounding you as a player and achieving common goals as a team is something I think about every day. Running SO Coffee alone (with help at times) has been a tough experience, but also so rewarding, I would never change any of it. To receive this award would be an extremely proud achievement. SO Coffee will continue to grow as a business, but to receive an award that really represents hard work and resilience is something I would be extremely proud of'

What drives our managing director?

'Being a part of a team environment for so long drives me to want to create a culture within my business. Creating a place of work that people feel a huge part of, who feel comfortable, feel like they are becoming a better person and learning new skills and life lessons'


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