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Meet the Founder - Dan O'Regan

An introduction to Dan O'Regan, founder of BANK

Back in 2012, a friend of mine recommended a coffee shop for me to visit. At the time, I generally partook in a mocha from Starbucks with some added sugar for good measure. I was at university in Bath, and was told I had to visit Colonna & Smalls if I enjoyed coffee. It sounds slightly grandiose, but that first visit pretty much shaped my entire career, and the subsequent decade that has led to this point.

I was greeted by a chap called Peter, who enquired as to whether I'd visited before, before talking me through their slightly unusual menu of different coffee beans and flavour notes, much like you'd expect from a wine list. I wasn't convinced, until I tasted a coffee what had an unmistakable note of blueberry, and I was hooked.

Being a tight fisted student, I couldn't afford to buy coffee out every day, but I did have a little espresso machine at home, and dove head first into the world of Speciality Coffee, reading everything I could get me hands on, trying every coffee bean I could fathom, and just generally being a geek.

The year after graduating, I was living in Spain, teaching English, with the plan to come back to the UK and teach history in a secondary school. Turns out, I was becoming more and more invested in learning about coffee, so I figured out the most efficient way to streamline the process... become a barista.

This is when it went into hyperdrive. I spent the next 18 months making coffees, surrounding myself by likeminded people, before hopping over to Origin Coffee, where I would manage training and education.

After managing training and education, I moved into wholesale, sharing some of the best coffees in the world with businesses who were looking to up their coffee game. I travelled across Europe visiting the best coffee shops and forging some amazing friendships with coffee professionals all over the continent, before stepping back to focus on growth in London.

I got to a point where I was itching to move back to the West Country, and I was fortunate enough to land a role with the people who kickstarted my career. Colonna & Smalls had now branched out to open their own roastery, sourcing and roasting their own coffee beans, and I joined the team with a focus on sharing that coffee globally.

In the time I had been focussing on growing and learning professionally, I had also been exploring some of the world's best coffee outside of my day job. Upon joining Origin, I was surrounded by some truly exception coffee professionals, and I jumped into the weird and wonderful world of coffee competitions.

I first competed in the UK Barista Championship in 2016, but the less said about that the better. Fast forward a couple of years to 2018, with two pretty rubbish performances under my belt, I pulled out all the stops to make it third time lucky. I came in 2nd Place in the UK Championship, second to my colleague, and our Head of Coffee at Origin.

Around the same time, I was also coaching a good friend of mine for a World Championship in Coffee in Good Spirits, a competition that combines coffee + booze to make some of the best coffee cocktails in the world (he went on to win the World Championships twice, back to back, the first person to ever do it).

It turns out, I wasn't just interested in coffee. I was interested in flavour; coffee had just come along at the right time to catch my eye. I'd done reasonably well in my coffee career to date, and had started by watching people make some incredible cocktails, before beginning to dabble myself at home. I already loved tasting wine + craft beer, and I was a pretty keen cook, and slowly but surely, I began to spend my time exploring anything and everything that tasted interesting.

So fast forward six months after my move to Bristol, and we get hit with COVID. The wholesale coffee market gets pretty much decimated overnight, so that's me out of a job (don't worry, I'm sure you've guessed that it all turned out ok).

I had some thinking time throughout lockdown, and decided I wanted to create something that embodied everything I was passionate about, all under one roof. That's when BANK was born.

Obviously, I wasn't a bartender, or a chef, despite my love of great food and tasty drinks, so I decided my role would be twofold. Firstly, I'd set the vision for BANK, know where I wanted it to go, and how good I wanted it to be. I wanted to create exactly the kind of business that I would like to visit as a guest, with great coffee, beer, wine, cocktails, and food.

Secondly, I'd build a team of people who were just as passionate as me, and much better at all the things that we wanted to focus on. So fast forward, and we've had our doors open for a year, with a team who are immensely talented and passionate about food, drink, and hospitality. We've got some exceptional chefs leading the kitchen, and some remarkable people out front who focus on making great drinks and delivering wonderful service.

So if you've visited us in the past year, then thank you for being a part of our journey. If you've not had the opportunity to pop in yet, then we'd love to meet you. Whether you're after a coffee and some lunch while you work away on your laptop, or dinner with an old friend, we'd love to share some of our creations with you.


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