Interview with Phillip Di Bella

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Phillip Di Bella shares some good blend of life

“I am not motivated by money. Money is only a result of doing things properly, if you get the right product, the right people with right messages to the right target, then you got a good business and money is a result of good business”.

The expansion of Di Bella business under “D’ARK by Phillip Di Bella” coffee shop in Bangkok prompted our interest to meet Phillip Di Bella, “the king of coffee” as some media headlined. Bangkok has almost every international brand of coffee available and it is highly competitive with not only amongst the biggest brands but local brands that also offer world-class quality coffee. We were interested to learn from him what he thinks of Bangkok’s coffee market where the competition is fierce.

We met the king of coffee at his Di Bella headquarter in Bowen Hills. We were greeted with coffee aroma that fills the entire building. The welcome drinks served were Di Bella espresso. It was satisfying to have such great aroma and can drink it too!

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Phillip was excited to share about how D’ARK was doing after the official launch. “It is going really good. I was in Bangkok for the launch, which was on the Thai mother’s day. I saw whole families of mothers, grandmothers, their kids came in, sharing lunches, coffee, desserts, enjoy the cozy atmosphere and enjoy themselves, it was really good to see that”.  He will be opening two more Di Bella Coffee business ventures in Bangkok; one opening in November is three blocks away from where D’ARK currently is. Another, which will be a big coffee superstore, is opening up some time next year.

When asked if the new coffee superstore is as exciting as a Starbuck drive thru that had just opened up in Thailand. Phillip replied with confident that he is not Starbuck and he is not trying to be Starbuck. “Their model is different, they are more convenient, you walk in, and you know what you going to get. They are the McDonald of coffee, if you like, similar products and similar price anywhere in the world. It is the franchise model, it’s the model that works for Starbuck”.

Di Bella coffee, said Phillip, is about experience, a unique experience. At D’ARK, from the food to coffee is very artisan. There are handmade waffles and sandwiches made fresh in the premises everyday. “I would not go into a market and try to copy other brands because then I will be the imposter.  We are the real unique experience coffee shop,” He praises Starbuck that it has done an exceptional job in introducing coffee culture in Asia and Southeast Asia.

Back home in Australia, Di Bella’s coffee business is known for exceptional customer service. Phillip said the keys to customer service has to be the model that consist of authenticity of the brand, its promise, the quality that meet the brand promise and the consistency that the brand carries at all time.

“To me the experience of the customer starts before they come inside the door of my business. It is about how the place presents, looks, the quality of products or services that matches the perception. If any brand that works to meet these keys, they have great customer service.”

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At D’ARK, some of the keys he mentioned are clearly visible. After the launch, the publicity it has got from medias and the photos posted on Facebook proven his points. The interior design and décor of D’ARK give that mystique, classy, and inviting look.  “When you walk into the door you will see our brand promise, we present classy and unique brand, staffs are friendly, they dress well, the chefs are professional, the ambience, the fit outs everything matches the brand perception and the quality of the food don’t come from the package, they’re served beautifully.  We put system in place to make it consistence, we offer the best customer service”.

It must also be these keys that play important part in his journey to the top of the coffee business trade. Phillip has been the recipient of a range of accolades and awards including fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, Young Manager of the Year in 2008, Ernst & Young’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2008, and Brisbane Business News’ Young Entrepreneur Award in 2010.

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In 2014, BRW ranked him number 19th in a young rich list with wealth worth of $100 million. What does it mean to him? “It made me proud yes, but how much I am worth, I don’t know. I am not motivated by money. To me, money is the results of doing thing properly, if you get the right product, target the right people with right messages, then you got a good business and money is a result of that”.

The king of coffee also shared his personal journey and his upbringing. Being the third and youngest child of immigrants from Sicily, he grew up with older siblings and surrounded by older relatives that he got to learn a lot of knowledge and wisdoms from.

He is married to Gianna Di Bella who co-written “Coffee Adventure” with his daughter, Arnika and his son Ali as two main characters in it. The profits from the book aimed to donate to various children’s charitable activities.

Since our interview with Phillip Di Bella back in 2015, D’ARK coffee shop expanded from the first branch in Sukhumvit 49 (Soi Piman) to open another branch in the luxury shopping mall Emquartier.