Peoples Coffee

Rebrand Blog Title Image

You may have noticed that Peoples Coffee is looking a little different of late. Our rebrand has come full circle and we are now looking a little more poised, polished and professional.

We started debuting the revamped Peoples earlier this year, easing all of our wonderful supporters (and ourselves) into the pool one toe at a time and the feedback we had was so positive that we decided to just throw you all in head first!

The biggest question we had from people who were a little hesitant about the new look was ‘why’. Why change what was working just fine? Well we thought we’d really let you ALL in on the ‘why’, no holds barred, so I sat down with the founder of Daughter & Son and the mastermind behind our new look; Alice Lloyd, to ask the hard-hitting questions.

Alice _2

Alice Lloyd, founder of Daughter & Son and the woman responsible for the Peoples rebrand

How did the rebrand come about? 

I began talking to Peoples Coffee about rebranding a year and a half ago. They had been in business for 11 years and had seen other coffee companies move to fair trade and organic products, and they knew they needed to differentiate themselves. The things that had made them unique back in 2004; have now become more mainstream in the coffee industry. With customers appetite for ethical products and services over the 2000’s building, even large corporate brands like Starbucks have fair trade and organic ranges.

There is also a growing fatigue around ‘green-washed’ brands- brands that seem like they are organic/natural/ethical on the outside because of the picture of the farmer on the packaging, or the use of rustic, ‘hand-crafted’ typography and illustration. Often, without much digging, you find that one of these product lines is made by the same company that uses less ethical practices in other parts of their business.

Peoples Coffee can stand proud in the knowledge that they have championed ethical practice and sustainability as part of their way of doing things since the start, having become a fully fair trade accredited business (one of only two in New Zealand). They are also working directly with farmers at origin, which is a unique selling point. But they don’t need to stay tied to those clichéd green visual cues to communicate those things.

GROUP 3

Our new 100% compostable bags in our four colours

What was the driving force behind the rebrand?

A desire to tell the Peoples Coffee story in a new and compelling way. There are so many great things that Peoples Coffee do that their customers don’t even know about – yes, part of the price of a cup of their coffee goes to helping communities in the areas where their coffee is harvested, but they also do a lot locally – The Arohata Project for instance (giving inmates barista training so that they have transferable skills when they are released back into the community).

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The new branding represents ALL of what we do – including social initiatives like the Arohata Project

How did you become involved and what attracted you to the project?

I have worked with Peoples Coffee for a number of years and could see how their progressive vision didn’t quite match up with their previous brand aesthetic and way of communicating. Liv Doogue, the General Manager, was highly motivated to take the brand in a fresh direction, and that is always an exciting place to start.

Collaborating with her, members of the Peoples Coffee board (namely Paul Soong), writer Glen Puklowski and designer Lisa Nicole Moes, helped push the brand in a direction that sets Peoples Coffee apart, both strategically and aesthetically.

Lauren Coffee

The Fashinii is one of our social enterprise blends designed to support special projects

Was the old branding a consideration in the development of the new branding – if so, how and what aspects have remained?

Yes, it was. When a brand has such a rich foundation like Peoples Coffee, it doesn’t make sense to wipe the slate clean and start again (strategically or aesthetically). Peoples Coffee have set themselves apart strategically by being socially driven – they will continue to produce exceptional coffee while working closely with people at coffee origin and closer to home.

We wanted to take the brand in a new direction aesthetically for the reasons I mentioned previously. Part of the rebrand exercise was establishing the character of the brand and how that translates visually. As a very egalitarian company, the ‘Everyman’ archetype rang true. And being a business that prides itself on ‘giving back’, doing an elaborate, flashy redesign did not feel right.

This led to a fairly utilitarian aesthetic – simple yet considered typography, a range of colours that can be used to create different moods and a new logo that hints at the original crest design, but is executed in a more modern way. Photography for Peoples Coffee has always had an authenticity about it, these are genuine ‘Peoples People’ doing their thing. We will continue to tell their stories and make that connection between those at coffee origin and those serving or drinking Peoples Coffee stronger.

Old vs New

Old versus new – keeping the crest was an important nod to our history.

Peoples Coffee Fonts and Colours

Simple yet considered typography and a range of colours that can be used to create different moods.

What were you inspired by when dreaming up ideas for the new look?

Keeping this idea of utilitarianism and ‘the Everyman’ in the back of out heads meant we drew inspiration from other benchmark brands that meet that criteria. Levi’s is a classic Everyman brand and the way they retain their original values while remaining modern and relevant was inspiring. Converse is another. Then there are the ethical brands that don’t subscribe to the ‘green design’ aesthetic such as Freitag.

When it came to picking typefaces, designing icons or choosing materials for signage, the idea that ‘form follows function’ was key. For example, simple, practical (utilitarian) materials were employed in the building of the Peoples Coffee exhibition stand, materials such as pegboard and plywood, as elaborate, frivolous decoration wouldn’t have felt right.

Jamie Apron

Utilitarian designs were utilised throughout the process – especially for our mobile coffee stands and aprons

What do you love about Peoples Coffee?

I love that I get to work with a truly progressive, socially driven company that puts its ethics at the heart of its business. They show that being motivated by something other than profit, can still result in being sustainable. It is a model that I wish more companies embraced because you can feel a sea-change happening currently; consumers want transparency.

I also love the fact that they didn’t shun me when I said that I drank decaf! (Their Decaf Peru Piura is pretty darn good).

How does the new branding represent the culture at Peoples Coffee?

‘People for the common great’ is what we established represents Peoples Coffee’s culture best and this will be one of their mantra’s going forward. They are a dedicated, passionate bunch who are striving for excellence.

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‘People for the Common Great’ – because we want to be more than just good.

What is your favourite thing about the new look?

It is the kitset of elements that we have to play with – a fresh colour palette, interesting typefaces, patterns, and a way of communicating that is uniquely ‘Peoples’.

What would you say to people who think the new branding has ditched it’s ‘rootsy’ look in favour of a cosmetic upgrade?

Well I hope after reading this, they can see that the rebrand exercise wasn’t just a cosmetic upgrade. It was more about uniting Peoples Coffee’s progressive ideals with a more progressive look.

Peoples Peoples Collage


June 15th, 2016


Posted In: Auckland, Branding, Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Constable Street, Fair trade, Organic, peoplespeople, Social projects, Sustainability, Uncategorized, Wellington

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Pinaman Owusu-Banahene is kind of amazing, she is the founder of social enterprise ADJOAA (Africa Design Journey through AustralAsia) the brains (and brawn) behind Wellington’s first ever Africa Fashion Festival and is (aptly) perhaps the most fashionable person I have ever met.

I sat down with Pinaman last week at our Constable Street café to talk about her long-gestating vision for Africa Fashion Festival FINALLY coming to fruition, what she’s most excited about and why the festival is about so much more than beautiful clothing. We also got to tasting some of the bespoke ‘Fashinii’ blend that Peoples Coffee has crafted to support the festival!

Pinaman Owusu-Banahene – founder of ADJOAA and the Africa Fashion Festival

The Festival

Here’s the lowdown – designed to help promote and celebrate African designers the Africa Fashion Festival is ‘an opportunity to experience the richness and vibrancy of African culture through fashion and other art forms’. From the out-set Pinaman wanted to create a platform that celebrated not only established and emerging African artists but also the heritage of the continent and the traditional techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Six esteemed international designers will be showing at the festival as well as two local emerging talents.

The festival is also about giving back. A percentage of ticket sales has been earmarked for the establishment of three key social initiatives for young Africans in New Zealand as well as a fund for social projects on the ground in African communities.

Ghanaia-made Luxury Footwear from sisters Nana & Afua Dabanka for MONAA 

What to Expect

Pinaman has curated an experience that speaks to the heart of the festival at every turn. She has bought together an exceptional group of designers including Nana Brenu, Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud and Nana & Afua Dabanka showing collections ranging from dresses and accessories (handcrafted raffia bags and sustainable wooden eyewear) to men’s wear and stunning hand-made leather shoes.

Attendees will be treated to a showcase of local and ethical products on arrival from Peoples Coffee and Wellington Chocolate Factory to the The Body Shop, Good Buzz, Karma Cola and more. On top of all this there will be a whole range of surprises throughout the evening!

Patterns, prints and colour for men from Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud for LaurenceAirline

Pastels and androgyny from Nana Brenu for Studio 1981

Eco-Luxury Wooden Sunglasses from Nana Osei Boateng for Bohten

Why We’re Involved

When we first met Pinaman we were struck by her enthusiasm – she was so excited to bring the festival to life that you couldn’t help but get excited too, it was infectious. Behind that however was a driving passion to use art to create change.

Pinaman has put all of herself to use in this venture; her knowledge and love of the fashion industry, her prowess as an event manager, her years studying Public Policy and her own personal experiences as an African woman.

The Fashinii is one of our social enterprise blends designed to support special projects

Help Us Help the Festival

Peoples Coffee have developed a bespoke blend specially for the festival; the Fashinii blend.

Meaning ‘fashion’ in the Ethiopian language of Oromo, the Fashinii is a two-bean blend from the Ethiopian regions of Guji and Sidamo with fruity nuances of cranberry and mandarin.

$2.00 from the sale of each bag will go directly to the Festival’s Social Enterprise fund. You can purchase the Fashinii from our online store or at our Flagship cafe in Newtown.

Our Nitro Cold Brew – Fashinii style

We’re incredibly proud to be involved in Wellington’s first Africa Fashion Festival. We’ll be pulling pours of our world famous Nitro (made with the Fashinii blend) for all those lucky enough to have snagged a ticket. There are a VERY limited number of student and GA tickets still available HERE – but get in quick as they won’t last long!

What: Africa Fashion Festival 2016
Where: James Smith Arcade, Cnr Cuba and Manners Streets
When: Saturday 28 May

– Jesse F


May 24th, 2016


Posted In: Africa, CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Ethiopia, Fair trade, Nitro, Organic, peoplespeople, Social projects, Sustainability, Sustainable, Wellington

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Every 6 months or so the argument surrounding ‘The Price of a Cup of Coffee’ rears it’s ugly head. I can understand why – it pairs two of my very favourite things; coffee and lamenting the fact that it would be foolish to spend my entire paycheque on the stuff. But when we saw *yet another* news paper article outlining why ‘coffee these days is a rip-off’ we decided to use the opportunity to talk more positively about our own story and how, increasingly, personal buying power is determining what constitutes ‘expensive’.

Coffee is a powerful commodity. There is a reason that it is often referred to as ‘black gold’. The women and men at Origin work punishingly long hours planting, cultivating, growing, picking, washing, drying, sorting, preparing and transporting beans for a financial return that often does not reflect production costs. Add to this the world’s increasing demand for high-end ‘specialty’ coffee which requires a massive amount of resources for a comparatively low yield and you begin to understand how difficult it is for a farmer and their family to achieve a good quality of life.

Quality control at the OROMIA coop in Ethiopia – done by hand

Comparing a $3.00 cup of coffee and a $4.50 cup of fair trade, organic coffee is like comparing apples with oranges, sure they’re both fruit but they’re completely different. Let’s say cheap coffee is apples – the right apple is tasty, juicy and just what you want but it’s not an orange and it’s not pretending to be an orange. A cheap coffee, when it’s good, is everything it’s supposed to be and nothing more and that is perfectly fine. But if you want an orange, an apple simply won’t suffice.

New Zealanders are using their buying power more proactively than ever before and for those people who want their morning flat white to count for more, we offer an alternative.

We pay more than most for our Green Beans

We only buy high quality fair trade beans. Why? Primarily because the very best thing about fair trade are the social premiums they provide. We buy every kilo of our coffee over and above the fair trade minimum and approximately $1.32 NZ of that goes directly toward social projects within the co-op. It is earmarked specifically for that purpose and helps improve education, rights for women, infrastructure, healthcare and much more. 

We only source organic beans. Why? Because chemical run-off from non-organic farms is permanently damaging local ecosystems and adversely affecting the health of farmers and their families. Farmers are also rewarded an additional social premium for organic certified beans.

Our head roaster Rene on one of his Origin trips

We only use organic milk. Why? Because it’s better for you and for the animals who produce it and we would rather support independent, sustainable milk producers. It is also sweeter and creamier and compliments coffee so much more than conventional milk.

We only use compostable packaging and cups. Why? Well because the environment is pretty messed up and we owe it to future generations to try and turn things around.

Latte art at Constable Street

When you buy a cup of Peoples Coffee these are just some of the things you are supporting:

At Home
Barista Training at Arohata Women’s Prison
Youth Barista Training at Zeal
Food Hero Rescue at Kaibosh
A whole host of underfunded organisations

At Origin
Campaigns to protect the rights of indigenous farmers
The construction of schools, hospitals, clinics, wells and more
The funding of scholarships and the prioritisation of increased access to education for women

Perfect shots at our flagship cafe in Newtown

At our Constable Street flagship cafe we charge $4.00 for a black coffee and $4.50 for a regular white coffee. We charge an additional 20c for takeaway coffees (unless you have a keep-cup). These prices reflect the reality of what it costs for us to produce a cup of fair trade, organic coffee with a conscience. If we charged less we would be unable to increase the quality of life for our farmers, pay our staff above average wages, use organic milk, give over 500kg’s of coffee away to local groups every year and, in short, we would be unable to do everything that make us who we are.

More than good – people for the common GREAT

So yes, our coffee could certainly be considered expensive. But for our customers the price is worth it when you consider how powerful that cup of coffee can be and at the end of the day it is up to the consumer to decide how to use their dollar.

Buy Coffee. Get Change.

– Jesse F


April 7th, 2016


Posted In: Africa, Auckland, Cafes, CBD, Certifications, Coffee, Constable Street, Cooperatives, Ethiopia, Fair trade, Milk, Organic, peoplespeople, Social projects, Sustainability, Trips, Uncategorized, Wellington

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Our four contendors: Goats Milk, Oat Milk, Coconut Milk, Zero Lacto Milk

The milk blog has become something of a Peoples Coffee tradition. Last year we did a little blog featuring milk alternatives (Almond, Hazelnut, Rice & Soy) and how they stacked up when paired with our coffee and before that we smashed out some flat whites with a range of organic and off-the-beaten-track milks in ‘Honour the Cow’.

Turns out you guys have a LOT to say about milk – 12 months on we’re still getting a steady flow of comments, so we thought we’d do a bit of a follow-up and test out some your suggestions!

We set aside a morning in the cupping room and set Robbie, Rene and Jamie the unenviable task of making flat whites with Lactose Free milk, Oat milk, Coconut milk and Goats milk.

Zero Lacto: Easy to work withRobbie give the Zero Lacto a taste test

Robbie gives the Zero-Lacto a taste test

First up was Anchor’s Zero Lacto milk which they proclaim to be ‘tummy friendly’. The first thing we noticed was how sweet the milk was. I did a little research and found that ‘removing lactose’ involves altering the chemical make-up of the lactose enzyme, splitting it into two smaller, more easily digestible sugars; glucose and galactose. Those sugars bind to the sweetness receptors on your tongue in a way that lactose does not – therefore a sweeter taste.

The milk was super easy to work with producing perfect microfoam and making latte art a dream. There was a definite reduction in sweetness when added to coffee but it also tasted quite thin, lacking the creamy quality of regular milk.

Stretching: 5/5
Taste: 3/5
Overall: 4/5

Oat Milk - AKA 'Porridge Milk'Jamie won't be making the switch to Oat Milk anytime soon

Jamie won’t be making the switch to Oat Milk anytime soon

Our second milky mimic was an Oat milk from the Vitasoy line. We use Vitasoy in our Constable Street cafe and so far as soy milk goes – it’s king, so we were interested to see if this mastery extended to their other products.

The answer was no – at least so far as coffee was concerned. Dubbed unceremoniously by Robbie as ‘Porridge Milk’ the Oat milk was rice-pudding with a slightly sour aftertaste. Once stretched it produced a tonne of foam and made for a very sweet and ultimately disappointing flat white.

Stretching: 2/5
Taste: 2/5
Overall: 2/5

Coconut Milk - not great with coffee but AWESOME on it's own!MRW all my Coconut milk hopes and dreams are crushed

MRW all my Coconut milk hopes and dreams are crushed

Contender numero three was a gorgeously packaged Coconut Drinking Milk from Little Island. Robbie was especially excited about this one – he was chomping at the bit to get a taste and was already planning a line of coconut beverages for our cafes.

It has to be said that the coconut milk was lovely cold. Light, refreshing and not overpowering in sweetness. The milk did not stretch particularly well, separating easily and holding the bulk of it’s sweetness in the foam. Opinions were varied on it’s suitability with coffee – Jamie and Robbie were unimpressed whilst myself and Rene weren’t so critical.

So low scores for coffee potential but Jamie did make a killer coconut hot chocolate with it later in the day.

Stretching: 2/5
Taste: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5


The infamous Goats milk flat whiteRene give the steamed Goats milk a sniffThe taste of the Goats milk flat white was too much for Rene

It’s all in the expression…

We saved the most interesting milk for last – a Goats Milk from Living Planet. Goat, in any form, is always a rather dividing flavour, it has a reputation for being strong and distinctive – not exactly the qualities you’re looking for to showcase the subtle flavours of coffee. But ‘why not?’ we thought.

We thought wrong. Whilst I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who swear by goats milk I can tell you that we are not among them. The milk had a very distinctive feta flavour than only intensified with stretching. It was salty and, as Rene so graciously put it; ‘tasted like socks’. Honestly the very thought of that cheesy, gamey flavour is making me dry retch a little.

In it’s defence it stretched OK but nothing will convince me to go back for seconds.

Stretching: 3/5
Taste: 0/5
Overall: 2/5

Rene looked like this for a good long while after the Goats milk flat white

Rene looked like this for a good long while after the Goats milk flat white

And there you have it. We’d loved to have tried out a recent addition to the milk scene ‘Jersey Milk’ and the vastly popular ‘Cashew Milk’ but alas, there is only so much one can do in a single blog.

We’d love to know what you think – did we get it wrong? Did we miss something out? What milk alternative do you swear by?

– Jesse F


February 23rd, 2016


Posted In: Coffee, Fair trade, Milk, Organic

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Kaibosh have a vision: Zero Food Poverty. Zero Food Waste.

It’s simplicity belies the true nature of the work that goes into achieving such a bold campaign, New Zealanders throw away over 122,547 tonnes of food a year, but Kaibosh are equal to the task.

Fresh Broccoli from the Newtown Farmers Market

Founded in 2008 Kaibosh and it’s team of over 100 volunteers ‘rescue’ food from Wellington businesses and provide it to community groups and charities that support people in need.

In the last 12 months they have provided 139,575 kilograms of food (that’s the size of a blue whale) from 31 businesses to 32 local community groups and charities.

Kaibosh by the numbers

The businesses involved are wide ranging; from supermarket behemoth Countdown and food-to-go experts Wishbone to smaller outfits such as Wooden Spoon Boutique Freezery and Astoria Cafe. Check out the full list here.

Newtown and Harbourside Farmers Markets make invaluable contributions over the weekend – ensuring a large supply of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and vege from the Farmers Markets is an invaluable contribution

Food is collected by the Kaibosh drivers and taken back to HQ (one in the central city and a newly opened hub in Lower Hutt) where it is sorted by volunteers – the game is simple; if YOU would eat it, keep it. If you wouldn’t, throw it in the compost.

We want people to open up their food box and be really happy to find great, fresh food – for it to really brighten their day’ says Driver and Fundraiser Ryan O’Connell of the sorting process.

As well as composting the team send any food that doesn’t make the grade along to Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary for their animal feed.

Happy pig – one recipient of Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary’s animal feed

Recently Kaibosh have teamed up with some like-minded businesses to create the Food Rescue Heroes initiative. Becoming a Hero is as easy as donating from $15 per month to Kaibosh – in return you get a Food Rescue Heroes card with awesome deals all round Wellington, a welcome pack from Peoples Coffee, Wellington Chocolate Factory & Ideal Cup plus invitations to Food Rescue Heroes evenings at Kaibosh HQ.

One of the Food Rescue Heroes Welcome Packs

If you’d like to know more about becoming a Food Rescue Hero or getting involved with Kaibosh, jump onto the Kaibosh website and grab the lowdown.

– Jesse F


February 12th, 2016


Posted In: CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Fair trade, peoplespeople, Social projects, Sustainability, Sustainable, Wellington

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Vic Books is an institution for anyone who has toiled their way through a degree from Victoria University. They are the difference between an enjoyable, thought provoking lecture or a one and a half hour nap session. They are the life blood of the student body (OK so I might be laying it on a bit thick there but you get the idea – they are AWESOME!).

Two hot chocolates please!

Peoples are super proud to be a part of the Vic Books story and so we thought we’d give you all a little update on what they’ve been up to and where they’re going.

Vic Books Manager and all-round good-guy Lars Bringzen

For those of you who haven’t experienced Vic Books here’s the deal: Located in the thick of Victoria Universities Kelburn Campus, Vic Books smashes out over 2000 cups of Peoples Coffee a week. They pride themselves on having a sustainable approach to business and from their inception have partnered with like-minded entities such as Zany Zeus, Karma Cola, Trade Aid, Peoples and more.

Our trainer James kicking at the Vic Books kiosk in the Hub

Vic Books has been KILLING IT over the last few years under the guidance of General Manager Lars Bringzen, opening takeaway coffee kiosk’s in the Hub and Pipitea Campus’ Rutherford House, the latter a little preview of what’s to come when the dust settles on this under-construction campus.

A glimpse of what the new Pipitea Campus will look like once finished

Throughout 2015 and ’16 the Business School hub is undergoing a massive facelift; a full redesign of the existing structures, an eight story addition and at the centre of it all a new and improved Vic Books Pipitea.

Right now the site is under lock and key; a hundred and one tradesmen guard the entrances with pick-axes and eye-wateringly orange vests BUT we will be bringing you a little insiders look quite soon.

Some little gift bags from a recent Peoples Coffee event at Vic Books

Our training session ‘Coffee One-oh-One’ in action

Until then keep an eye out for some exciting events, giveaways and other cool things at Vic Books Kelburn. We’ll be bringing back our popular ‘Coffee One-oh-One’ training sessions in the next month and rumour has it there is a cheeky little Cold Flat White giveaway coming up…

Go Vic Books  – you guys rock!

 

– Jesse F


January 28th, 2016


Posted In: Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Fair trade, peoplespeople, Sustainability, Sustainable, Wellington

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It’s a new year! And there are VERY exciting things afoot (putting aside the mildly terrifying fact that I turn 26 this year and so am officially an adult *sigh*).

The first of these very-exciting-things is our Constable Street Peanut Butter Takeover, the brain-child of our brilliant cafe manager Patrick and the team at Fix & Fogg.

Smooth – w. Moutere Gold raspberry jam + basil

The Takeover places peanut butter in the spotlight – irrevocably cementing it as THE taste sensation of 2016.

There are four excellent combinations – each made with the freshest local produce and featuring some of Wellington and New Zealand’s very best culinary whizz-kids.

Dark Chocolate – w. Fairtrade banana + Zany Zeus mascarpone

For those of you with a sweet tooth we have: ‘Dark Chocolate’ with Fairtrade banana & Zany Zeus mascarpone and ‘Smooth’ with Moutere Gold raspberry jam and fresh basil.

If you haven’t tried ZZ’s mascarpone before we HIGHLY recommend you do – 100% organic, light and lip-smackingly creamy.

Smoke & Fire – w. shaved cucumber + chipotle hot sauce

I myself favour savoury when it comes to a snack – so for all of you like me there is: ‘Smoke & Fire’ with shaved cucumber & chipotle hot sauce and ‘Crunchy’ with Kruegermann gherkin and Zany Zeus feta.

All of the options are served on Best Ugly ‘Montreal style’ bagels. In contrast to the classic New York style bagel the Montreal is smaller, thinner, sweeter and denser, with a larger hole and is boiled in honey-sweetened water before being baked.

Crunchy – w. Kruegermann gherkin + Zany Zeus feta

I stopped by the cafe earlier this week to experience the takeover for myself. My personal favourite was the ‘Smoke & Fire’. True to it’s name it was HELLA smokey with chilled cucumber sliced into gorgeous ribbons so thin you could see right through them – yum. I’ll probably be back tomorrow for the Dark Chocolate, it is haunting my day-dreams…

Jesse (me) tucking into the ‘Smoke & Fire’

At this stage the Takeover is running through until the end of this week (Sunday 17 January) so get in while you still can – it’s worth the trip!

– Jesse F


January 12th, 2016


Posted In: Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Constable Street, Fair trade, peoplespeople, Wellington

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IMG_9423

2015 has been absolutely mental – we’ve gone from strength to strength and honestly we’re all pretty exhausted! Time for one more quick blog though – we thought ‘Peoples Coffee in Numbers’ was a fun way to end the year.

We were blown away by some of the facts and figures we unearthed, the number of flat whites we made at the Constable Street store was especially staggering. To make it exciting we’ve put everything into this awesome infographic because, let’s be honest, stats can be a little dull…

PC by Numbers

All in all a pretty successful year we think.

Time for a rest and some recuperation (and a couple of sneaky beersies) and then we’ll be ready to take on 2016!

Merry Christmas from all of us, stay safe and happy and we’ll see you all on the flip side 🙂

– Jesse F


December 23rd, 2015


Posted In: Auckland, Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Constable Street, Fair trade, peoplespeople, Social projects, Sustainability, Wellington

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Two weeks ago I embarked on a little trip up to Auckland to visit Liv and Josephine and check out some of the awesome spots now serving Peoples Coffee in the city of sails (I also MAY have seen Fleetwood Mac live in concert but that’s neither here nor there…).

Liv picked myself and our awesome photographer Renee up from Britomart (Renee and I having made the rather poor decision to take the overnight bus from Wellington) and took us on a whirlwind tour – first stop Cake & Co. on Ponsonby Road.

Jackie makes a pretty mean flat white

Cake and Co. is a cosy little nook specialising in (you guessed it) cakes! Stunningly presented, absolutely delicious cakes. Owner Jackie takes pride in using only the best natural ingredients; unrefined sugars, free range eggs from happy chooks, natural colours and flavours, spelt, rye and wholemeal flours along with her own special blend of gluten free flour.

Coffee comes served with dainty mini-cupcakes in all kinds of flavours and the place has a really great vibe – children and dogs being equally welcome.

Watching the world go by

After much cooing over several puppies, we eventually departed, refuelled and ready for our next destination: Fort Greene in St Kevin’s Arcade.

Tucked away in St. Kevin’s Arcade off of K Road – Fort Greene are the Sandwich KINGS

St Kevin’s is Fort Greene’s new home and it is looking PRETTY swish, a cool new fit-out with an upstairs loft giving the spot a homely and relaxed feel. Owners (and culinary whizzes) Andrea and Liam are making a name for themselves as Auckland’s ‘Sandwich Kings’ with their totally homemade, epic sandwiches built from the ground up, starting with the bread.

We HIGHLY recommend ‘The Fish One’ – hand made house-smoked kahawai fish fingers, mushy peas, tartare and snow pea shoots served warm to order on house made bread *drools*.

Dynamic duo Liam and Andrea – the heart and soul of Fort Greene

The next stop on our cafe crawl was the lovely Florentines Tea Room in Epson. This locals secret has been serving Peoples for a few years now – our very first Auckland foray.

Florentines has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating

Florentines is a gorgeous, eclectic spot with a real ‘old-hollywood-meets-english-countryside’ aesthetic – crystal chandeliers and ornate gilded mirrors sitting comfortably next to hand-knitted throw cushions and china tea sets. They boast a fantastic selection of cabinet food including their famed chicken & avocado club sandwiches as well as a small but lovely all-day breakfast menu.

The place was PACKED when we visited – poor Renee was in the way for pretty much every single photograph she took but no-one seemed to mind, the diverse crowd shimmying this way and that to accommodate!

Scones, muffins, macaroons – a sweet tooth’s paradise

Then is was back to the city to visit the new and improved Scarecrow – an artisan grocer, kitchen and florist occupying a stunning new spot on Victoria Street East.

Maya Inca – our latest seasonal blend

Scarecrow have recently moved back in to this corner after giving it a brilliant re-furb and the place glows. Huge bouquets of flowers adorn every shelf, white globes of light hang suspended from the roof and the smells of baked bread and fresh ground coffee are delightful. The artisan grocer is retailing a varying selection of People’s best blends and single origins for home espresso and brewing.

They also do a great breakfast – but be sure to get in early, the spot was chocka-block when we arrived around midday, barely room to swing a cat!

Scarecrows new fit-out is absolutely on-point

We unfortunately didn’t quite have time to pop in to the fantastic Urchin & Amber on Vulcan Lane. I was lucky enough to sample their gorgeous menu and write a blog about them last time I was in the big city and had been keen to lay my hands on some more of their exceptional Green Bean, Sesame and Chilli Salad but alas, not this time around.

Jaime from Urchin & Amber

Storm clouds were moving in and we had a concert to catch – time to Go Our Own Way(s). Until next time Auckland, you always turn on the best weather for me – and by best I mean thunder and pouring rain – ciao!

– Jesse F

Photography by Renee Cotton Media


December 11th, 2015


Posted In: Auckland, Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Fair trade, peoplespeople, Trips, Uncategorized

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We’ve got a secret. It’s a matter of some excitement and we’re PRETTY amped that we’re finally able to share the news…

This weekend we will be debuting the gorgeous, limited edition, Mish Mash – a Mocha Porter beer we’ve been lucky enough to work on with the Wellington Chocolate Factory and the awesome folk down at Garage Project!

The brew is a one-night-only tipple that has been created specially to celebrate The Free Store‘s 1st Annual fundraiser down at Southern Cross this Sunday.

Quite the formidable team…

Using Peoples Coffee’s darkest roast blend; the Sebastiana Martinez and Dominican Cocoa Nibs from Wellington Chocolate Factory, Garage Project have crafted a bitter-sweet chocolate coffee brew with more kick than you can shake a stick (at).

Our darkest roast is named after a Peoples Coffee legend

Pete Gillespie – now THAT is a beard

To be quite honest my knowledge of the beer brewing process is woefully uninformed so, in order to write this blog, I sat in with Garage Projects Head Brewer (and all-round legend) Pete Gillespie and learnt all about the incredibly involved craft, much of which is not at all unlike the coffee roasting and cupping process.

Two grain varietals – two very different flavour profiles

Step 1: Pick a grain. Grain is ground to an oaty porridge-like consistency above the brewery and piped through to the mash tun, a very big silver goliath which is part of the main brew kit.

Step 2: Mash and Wort. Water is then added to the dry grain to create a mash which is eventually drained to produce what is called the Wort – a sticky sweet liquid that becomes the base of our beer.

Now because we are brewing a small batch beer, the Garage Project team use a smaller brew kit called the Pilot Kit (or ‘Brew Magic’) for the next step in the process. The Pilot Kit is capable of 50 litre brews and was the ORIGINAL Garage brew kit, so it has quite the legacy!

Capturing the Wort run-off

It can be a messy process!

Step 3: Boil time. Now it’s time to get our wort nice and hot (to get rid of any nasties). Sanitisation is one of the most important parts of the brewing process as nasties can destroy an otherwise perfect brew.

Step 4: Adding your hops. Once the wort is at a rolling boil it’s time to add your hops. Our brew only has a small amount of hops in it, just enough to give it a good base. The brew is then boiled for a further 60 minutes. There are many types of hops and other ingredients that can be added at this point; bittering hops, flavouring & aromatic hops, spices and sugar – it all depends on the kind of flavours you want to create.

Step 5: Chill it. The brew is now bought right down in temperature. This is done quite quickly to ensure a good ‘cold break’ which helps with the clarity of the finished product.

Some hops for bitterness and base

Step 6: Fermentaion station. Once the brew has been cooled to around 22 degrees it is transferred over to the fermenter where yeast is carefully added. The brew will begin to ferment 8 – 24 hours after the yeast is added, the length of the fermentation process is dependant on the beer you are trying to craft – ours took around 14 days.

Step 7: Steeping. Now we add the tasty bits! Our Sebastiana and the Chocolate Factory cocoa nibs were placed in muslin cloth and steeped in the fermented brew for some time to allow the flavours to infuse. Much like tea.

Step 8: That’s it! The brew is then essentially done. It is cooled, kegged (or bottled) and ready to drink!

Time for a taste

A huge thanks to the exceptional Benjamin Johnson from The Free Store for asking us to be involved and to Garage Project for doing all the hard work! We are always stoked to be able to work with such brilliant crafters and the Garage & WCF crews are up there with the very best.

Benjamin from the Free Store

The Free Store have organised what is shaping up to be truly the coolest fundraising event you’ve ever seen. According to the Facebook invite I received you’ll need to ‘brace yourself for ear-tingling, foot-stomping musical goodness (from local bands including Miles Calder & the Rumours, Graeme James, Towers and more) and brush up your quizzical skills to take home an epic prize pack’.

Plus of course there’s this fantastic beer AND it’s all for an amazing cause – so theres no excuses for you all not to come along. More details can be found on the event page but the essentials are thus:

Where? Southern Cross
When? 2.30pm Sunday 29 November
Why? To raise money for an awesome cause (and because live music, cool art and epic beer is not to be sniffed at)

See you there!

Jesse F

Photography by Renee Cotton Media


November 25th, 2015


Posted In: Beer, Brewing, CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Fair trade, peoplespeople, Wellington

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2015 has been a year of big changes for Peoples. We’ve got some new faces, a wicked-cool new Auckland HQ and a whole lotta stuff in the pipeline thats going to blow your minds come 2016!

That being said sometimes you’ve just gotta go back-to-basics – so with this blog that’s exactly what we’re gonna do. It’s time to meet the team, the #peoplespeople behind the scenes. We’re a motley crew who LOVE what we do and because I’m a huge nerd I’ve given us all hella-cool superhero-esque names…


René Macaulay – ‘Bean King’

If you saw our blog a few weeks ago then you’ll know all about our man-behind-the-beans; René Macaulay. As well as being our Head Roaster René is the head of the New Zealand Roasters Guild and a father of three. He is currently without-moustache but trust me when I say he is the hands-down, undisputed Movember champion.

Most Likely To: Pull this face
Favourite Film: The Big Lebowski

 


James Beyer – ‘The Face’

James is the go-to-guy for making sure all of our cafes get the BEST care possible. He’s a coffee expert who does everything from training our barista’s to refurbishing machines in need of a little love. When he’s not in the office you can usually find James cruising around Wellington, visiting our cafes, making sure everyones coffee is just right.

Most Likely To: Rock Sneans (even though it is a crime against humanity)
Favourite Film: Lords of Dogtown


Liv Doogue – ‘Mother Superior’

Liv is our amazing General Manager, the leader of the pack, the captain of the Peoples ship and any other brilliant metaphors you can think of. She has recently relocated to Auckland and is now, along with Jo, kicking butt and taking names in the big city! Liv is a Wellingtonian at heart though and never misses an opportunity to get back to her windy city roots.

Most Likely To: Inappropriately abbreviate. (For example ‘Chicken and Waffles’ becomes the quite frankly terrifying ‘Chicky Waffs’)
Favourite Film: In the Mood For Love


Ben Neason – ‘Overlord’

A more organised man you will never find, Ben is our Warehouse Manager and keeps us all in line. He also works with René as one of our Junior Roasters. Ben is passionate about making sure that Peoples (and businesses the world over) are constantly evaluating how we can be better at minimising our impact on the environment. He also REALLY likes lentils (honestly I’ve never seen anyone eat so many lentils?).

Most Likely To: Eat lentils
Favourite Film: Stand By Me


Efi Botes – ‘Madam Moolah’

Efi is our accounts ninja – she holds the keys to the cheque book and is one badass lady. She also has a SUPER-HUMAN memory, capable of recalling facts and figures from 2006(?!) with staggering accuracy. When she’s not fielding a million questions from me, Efi is usually busy ensuring the office temperature is sitting precisely at a balmy 17 degrees.

Most Likely To: Embarrass her daughter with spontaneous Zumba moves in the supermarket
Favourite Film: The Sound of Music


Jamie Binding – ‘Beard Lust’

You MAY know Jamie from his infamous cold brewing skills, or simply from seeing him cruising around town in the Peoples Coffee caddy, delivering coffee to all of our nearest and dearest. Jamie recently got his first smart phone and has been entertaining us all by showing us all of the internet memes and jokes that we all saw three years ago when we got OUR smart phones.

Most Likely To: Eat seven sandwiches in one sitting. Every day.
Favourite Film: Donnie Darko


Jesse Finn – ‘Mistagram’

That’s me! When I’m not posing for brilliant candid snaps (see above) you’ll find me slaying it on social media, researching and writing our bi-weekly blogs and taking care of the roastery admin. As I live all of about 3 minutes from the Roastery I find very little reason to ever leave Newtown – so that’s where you’ll find me most of the time.

Most Likely To: Wear double-denim at every opportunity.
Favourite Film: Alien

Roastery 1

So that’s the team. It’s new territory having two of us based up in Auckland but every two-weeks or so Liv comes to visit and, when we’re lucky, she brings Josephine and with our powers combined we pretty much break the speed of sound.

We’ll be having a little look at the Auckland HQ and having a chat with Jo & Liv soon to see what they have been getting up to in the city of sails, so keep an eye out 🙂

– Jesse F


November 16th, 2015


Posted In: Auckland, CBD, Coffee, peoplespeople, Wellington

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Last week I took a little trip to the Free Store on the corner on Ghuznee and Willis to take a look at a new venture the fantastic team there have started.

If you haven’t heard of the Free Store before here’s the lowdown: Opened in 2010, the Free Store is a not-for-profit organisation that redistributes surplus food from over 25 cafes, bakeries and restaurants throughout Wellington. Their small army of volunteers collect the food, transport it to their repurposed shipping container home on Willis Street where, at 6pm, they throw open the doors and serve the food to the masses – completely free of charge. In the last 10 months they have redistributed over 55,000 items of food to, on average, 65 people each night.

Managing Director Benjamin Johnson was passionate about creating a space that was ‘by the community, for the community’. It was important to him that The Free Store be as open and accommodating to people from all walks of life – hence why there are no restrictions on who they serve the food to and how much is given – it’s an open, honest space where people take what they need and respect the needs of others.

Recently Benjamin felt that more could be done to create a sense of community for those people frequenting the Free Store and has reached out to several Wellington roasteries in an effort to offer hot coffee for the half hour prior to the store’s opening. Peoples Coffee are sponsoring the Friday night offering and we couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this really great initiative.

People were shy at first but the two young ladies manning the coffee station made them feel at home. Sugar? Milk? No problem and after a bit everyone was chatting and warming up with some Ethipoian Sidamo. The group was really diverse – men, women, students, pensioners and everyone in between – all just trying to keep their head above the tide.

It was pretty cool to witness the coming together of all of these people. Everyone supporting one another, helping each other out. One lovely gent even helped me with this blog by graciously pointing out that I was unlikely to get any particularly good pictures with the lens cap on…

Free Store 5
The thing I came away with is how multi-faceted the Free Store’s ambitions are. They’re working collaboratively to minimise needless waste whilst providing food, coffee & a safe, non-judgemental environment to those who need it most. If you get a chance to pop in and congratulate the team – do it. If you know a cafe or restaurant who you think would like to be involved – do that too! Every little bit really does help these guys make a big difference in a person’s life.

Jesse F


September 3rd, 2015


Posted In: Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Social projects, Sustainability, Uncategorized

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Today I met with Tabby Besley, founder of youth organisation InsideOUT, to talk about their charity exhibition at Matchbox Studios. Some of you might recognise Tabby – she was recently the first (and so far only) New Zealander to be awarded a Queens Young Leader Award for her work with queer youth (she even made a BuzzFeed list of 28 Badass Young People Making The World A Better Place).

InsideOUT are a pretty amazing organisation – they work with youth, whānau, schools and communities to make Aotearoa a safer place for all young people of diverse genders and sexualities to live and be in. Set-up in 2011, the organisation is run almost exclusively by youth volunteers who work tirelessly to lower rates of homophobic, biphoic and transphobic bullying in schools through initiatives like The Day of Silence and Pink Shirt Day (amongst a host of other projects).

InsideOUT aren’t government funded so they’re getting creative with a charity exhibition and auction at Matchbox Studios on Cuba Street this week. More than 40 artists and craftspeople have contributed a wide range of artworks – including paintings, jewellery, sculpture and photographs – and they have been priced to be as affordable as possible with prices ranging from $20 to $400. The artwork is available for purchase from Matchbox throughout the week with the auction kicking off at 6pm on Friday.

The auction is free to attend and anyone can bid. There will be a raffle drawn on the evening with some awesome prizes from local businesses (including some tasty Peoples Coffee!). Tickets for the raffle are only $2 and are available all week and on the night from Matchbox.

Both Tabby and event organiser Vicky Beesley have been completely overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone involved – neither expected to have so many pieces donated (in fact, even as we talked another piece arrived).

With 300 people ‘attending’ on Facebook the auction is shaping up to be a real success. Hopefully InsideOUT can raise a tonne of dough to continue to do the incredibly important work that they do. I know I’ll certainly be there on Friday – I’ve got my eye on a fox holding a balloon…see you there!

Jesse F


August 19th, 2015


Posted In: Activism, CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Fair trade, Social projects, Uncategorized

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Last week I took a wee trip up to Auckland to visit Peoples Coffee superstar Josephine and check out Urchin & Amber, one of the first inner-city cafes in Auckland to be serving Peoples Coffee.

Now it has to be said – Wellingtonians are very different from Aucklanders. We are a bit more relaxed, a little more artsy and a whole lot more able to find a car-park within a 3km radius of our favourite inner-city cafe – so naturally Jo was running a touch late!

She flew through the door in a flurry of coffee beans, spreadsheets and effortless-cool and we ordered up a storm from our awesome waiter Jaime. We both went for the Panko Crumbed Fish Fingers with Tatare and Lemon and shared a Grilled Green Bean, Sesame & Chilli salad. Everything was mad tasty and the salad had a brilliant kick from the chilli.

Next up we (obviously) needed to sample the coffee, so Jo had head barista Amanda whip us up a killer flat white and long black.  Amanda is brilliant, a little ball of energy and enthusiasm with a lilting Brazilian accent that makes everything sound MUCH cooler and who never stops smiling!

Urchin and Amber’s decor is cool. It feels new and vintage at the same time, so I wasn’t at all surprised when I found out that it is housed in the oldest pub in Aukland (the building was built in 1858!?) Owner David Combs, of Vulcan Lane institution Vultures, is passionate about making Urchin a warm and relaxed place to be. From next week they will be serving brekkie and brunch through until 4pm, at which point Urchin will switch over to a gourmet fish & chips menu.

After chatting with the staff and a big ol’ meeting with Jo I decided to finish up my visit with one of Urchin’s freshly made super-juices. It was just what I needed to steel myself for the long walk down a very wet Queen Street to my hotel in a rather thin T shirt.

My trip to Auckland, whilst short, was sweet. It was great to see Urchin doing so well and to catch up with the lovely Josephine. It has been rumoured in the past that she lives INSIDE Skype but I now have proof otherwise. The more you know!

Jesse F


August 5th, 2015


Posted In: Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Fair trade, Trips, Uncategorized

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Blog Feature Image

Last week I went to prison.

No really! For a whole hour, to Arohata Womens Prison to sit in on the barista training that Peoples Coffee are offering for inmates. The training, now in it’s second year, is run by Lauren Tennent & Ashley Roper and is designed to provide real, transferable skills outside of the ‘traditional women’s work’ the prison offers.

On arrival myself and the rest of the media team were escorted down to the training room and introduced to the women who are taking part in the programme. The group were in high spirits throughout the visit (though one might suspect it was from the 4+ cups of coffee some of them had had!) and were eager to show us what they’d learnt. We all placed our orders and the ladies jumped to the task – delivering the coffees with surprising efficiency and big smiles. My flat white was great – nice and creamy with a strong finish!

  IMG_3283

After our caffeine fix we talked to group about the training – they said it was great to be able to learn new skills that could contribute to a new life when they were released. They were especially grateful to be able to have a cup of ‘real’ coffee as the prison only has instant available “things like good coffee are taken for granted, you don’t get anything like that in here and so to be able to have a cup is a real treat”.

Prison Director Chris Burns was enthusiastic about the project – “we’ve kept the sessions deliberately short so that the women can walk away with something tangible…you’ve only got to feel the vibe in the room to know the positive effect on them”. Arohata and Peoples are hoping to be able to run the programme again sometime next year as the feedback from both inmates and staff has been so positive.

I spoke briefly to one of the women about the course and she told me that the length of the courses was good because some of the inmates had difficulties concentrating for long periods of time “people have bad days and find it hard to be able to stay for a full day”. She said the short burst style of the course combined with the step-by-step process of the coffee-making made it easier for the group to stay focused.

After our chat we got to see the group graduate – all of the ladies were grinning from ear to ear. One of the inmates was particularly excited to show her certificate to her family – “my gran and my mum are really proud of me!”.

Coffee Making Close-up 1 Ashley

Overall I have to say my first trip to prison, whilst nothing like what I expected, was pretty great. I think its fantastic to see these women so eager to learn and grow. They are really hoping to be able to use these skills in the real world and I sincerely hope they get to.

Jesse F


July 24th, 2015


Posted In: Coffee, Collaboration, Fair trade, Social projects

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Peoples Coffee Chemex Brew Guide

Chemex 6 Cup Paper Filter Brew Guide

WHY CHEMEX?

The Chemex was designed over 60 years ago by a German chemist named Dr. Peter Schlumbohm. The filter brewer is inspired by the Bauhaus Art movement, and is celebrated in modern art circles for the beauty of its design.

The Chemex uses a specially bonded filter paper. It is heavily constructed to restrict oils and sediment, yielding a very clean cup. The large Chemex has an excellent geometry for brewing; the bed of coffee has a large surface area, the filter has a ‘v’ shape, and a large exit hole – this allows for grind size and water ratio to dictate the overall brew time.  Meaning, basically, if you treat the chemex well, it will treat you well – get the basics right and you’ll get a great cup of coffee every time.

So let’s get to it…

What You'll NeedHave on hand: Scales and a timer are vital to good brewing. You’ll also need a delicious Peoples Coffee single origin, a kettle, chemex filters, a pourer, and of course: a Chemex.

PREPARING TO BREW

Their uniqueness of geometry means the large Chemex is best used for large brews of 500-700grams of water, while the v60 is ideal for smaller filter brewing. (we prefer not to use the small Chemex).

Filter brewing, as is generally the case with coffee, requires some prep work. When the water first contacts the grinds everything should already be set up for success. we can’t stress enough how important it is to use controlled ratios of water and coffee…this means scales!

You can pour your boiled water from either an electric jug, or transfer hot water to a separate pourer if you want a more accurate pouring spout.

Boil the jug while you are preparing the brew. The brew water must be just off the boil – coffee needs around 94-96 degrees to correctly extract desirable flavours, so letting the boiled jug sit for 1 minute achieves optimum temperature.

Boil your water, and then leave it to cool for one minute, to achieve optimum brewing temperature
Boil your water, and then leave it to cool for one minute, to achieve optimum brewing temperature

Accurate pourer kettle

If using a seperate pourer kettle, pre-heat the pourer before filling with brew water. Once you are ready to start pouring, discard the preheat water and refill with freshly boiled water, this ensures the pourer won’t cool your boiled water.

Grind your coffee to a course plunger grind. Grind size dictates brew time – if the coffee is too coarse it will brew too fast and produce underdeveloped flavours like sourness. If it is too fine, bitterness will dominate. Anything over 4 minutes is too long for a brew, so coarsen up your grind if this is happening.

grinds

Grind size dictates brew time: For a plunger the grind should be much coarser than for espresso

Fold the filter paper so the 3 sides cover the spout of Chemex to allow air to escape during brew.

Rinse the filter paper with plenty of hot water to remove papery flavours and leave this rinsing water in the Chemex to pre-heat it. Empty just before brewing.

THE BREW

Grind dosed

1) Set the Chemex on the scales and dose the ground coffee into the wet filter.

2) Start your timer as you start the first pour. Pour in around 80grams of water, or, twice as much water as there is coffee (just enough to wet it all). The coffee will start to swell and rise – this is the bloom, a process of readying the grinds for extraction. It is important that all the grind is saturated. You can ensure this by gently spooning the grinds side to side and pulling the grinds from the bottom up to the surface: mixing but not stirring. The bloom should take 20-30 seconds, after this it will begin to extract. At 30 seconds, you should start to add more water. Don’t let the coffee dry out or it will taste bad.

Pouring into Chemex

It is important when pouring not to pour onto the paper as it will not enter the bed of coffee. Be sure to pour in circles on the grinds, focusing your pour towards the centre and the darker areas.

3) With a total ideal brew time of around 4 minutes, you need to consistently top up the water level, aiming to use it all by about 2 minutes. Pouring at 30 second intervals is a good way to ensure consistency. The first pour following the bloom should fill to the top of the glass, and from there continue with small top ups.

4) Enjoy the delicious fruits of your labour.

EXTRA FOR EXPERTS: If you have scales and want some extra tips, follow the barista guide below

Chemex extraction

Coffee: 41 grams. Water: 700 grams. Ratio: 1:17

 – 0:00 bloom pour to 80ml

 – 0:30 pour to 400ml

 – 1:00 pour to 500ml

 – 1:30 pour to 600ml

 – 2:00 pour to 700ml and stir in any high and dry grinds

 – 3:00 some people like to do a circular stir to create a round dome in the coffee bed

 – 4:00 remove filter and grinds from pourer as bed dries out, the brew is officially finished when the trickle turns into drips

Experiment with brew time, grind size and ratios to find the most desirable flavours of each coffee origin, but write it down if for next time!


September 24th, 2014


Posted In: Brewing, Coffee, Coffee geek out

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A Cooperative Meeting
Meeting with APODIP members in a small community which boasts many woman members who are involved in programs growing coffee, bee keeping and coffee roasting.

We’ve blogged before on our trading practices and business objectives, we’ve talked about the merits of various certifications, and we’ve shared stories of our relationships with the growing cooperatives that we buy from. Our kaupapa of ethical trade is the crux of our business, and the reason that Peoples Coffee exists. We’re constantly asking ourselves what it means to be a truly ethical coffee company, and we are always looking for opportunities to bring our customers and supporters in on that conversation.

Be Skeptical

You are right to be skeptical of brands claiming to be 100% ethical, we wouldn’t expect any less of you. It is true that ethical trading certifications can be subject to lots of different agendas, and sadly the reality is – there’s money in appearing to be fair (if you’re big enough). Being seen to be ethical secures access to a niche market, and there is a strong monetary incentive for brands to market their products as ethically sourced. This is fuelling growing distrust of those who claim the moral high-ground in coffee, and (yes we are biased) but we would advise consumers who are concerned about this to try and be as informed as possible about brands you interact with. So, in the interest of information and transparency, here is another soul-searching blog on what ‘ethical’ means when it comes to coffee.

The Invisible Hand

We partner with talented expert growers who provide us with high quality coffee. Unfortunately, people who rely on coffee as their main source of income have traditionally been subject to exploitative market realities. Peoples Coffee was born first and foremost out of a desire to contribute to increased justice for disadvantaged and exploited coffee growers.

A Family and their Coffee
Maria Rutilia, Olga Agelica Coc, Esperunza Pop, Sandeago Pop Ba , Sofia Ba (holding) Mina Coc Pop – Members of APODIP co-op in Chiquixji Guatemala.

Coffee is a raw commodity, and its market price is governed by the good old invisible hand. Since the end of the International Coffee Agreement in 1989, which regulated the price of coffee, its Wall Street price has wildly fluctuated, often dropping below the cost of production. Many families rely on coffee as their sole source of income, and the powerlessness that comes with this is the true tragedy of the coffee industry. We believe that what it means to be an ethical actor in the global coffee industry, whether fair trade certified or not, is an aim to assist and enable coffee growers to regain power over commodity chains, and to have the autonomy to participate in trade as equal partners.

Cracking Up
ASOBAGRI mill staff joking around with us while waiting for the next horse to arrive loaded with coffee to process.

How this is achieved is contested and controversial. Increasingly articles in the media challenge the principles and execution of fair trade (see Huffington Post, and The Guardian). And there are academic arguments to be made against elements of the fair trade system, notably the idea of cooptation: As more and more coffee producers look to become fair trade certified, international fair trade bodies need to find bigger and bigger markets for that certified coffee. These markets are becoming increasingly mainstream – meaning cooperating with large actors such as Nestle and Starbucks, who inevitably demand compromises and threaten to weaken the fair trade system as a whole. The way to challenge this, as we see it, is through the power of the specialty market: Small, dedicated coffee companies committing to ethical trade, and being completely accountable to their customers. We feel that the only way to be completely accountable is to provide the third-party assurance that is the WFTO label. However, importantly, our commitment to ethical trade does not end there.

 

What ‘Minimum’ Means

I should mention the fair trade pricing structure. There are many misconceptions about the purpose and impact of the fair trade minimum price. (Minimum being the operative word). The price is designed as a safe guard for when market prices fall below the cost of production (i.e. it costs more to produce the coffee than farmers can sell it for). This means that if growers are fair trade certified, they don’t have to worry about losing their livelihoods when the price falls. Fair trade also requires that a US0.20c premium be paid on top of the sale price, to go back into community development and capacity building.

Raking out Coffee Beans
New drying patios with freshly washed green coffee in parchment at GUAYA’B Guatemala.

Commonly, prices are determined by grower and roaster based on a number of other variables, and ethical specialty companies (like Peoples Coffee) pay well above the fair trade minimum. We pay an average of around 50% more per pound, with some coffees going for well over twice the minimum price per pound. Andy Fawkes, Managing Director of Masteroast in the UK, explained nuanced pricing structures in a recent Guardian article: “The conversation has become too much about the fact that the scheme just happens to provide a minimum price, and this has become so strong as to eclipse any correctly informed discussion about quality – like all coffee sourcing, it is down to the roaster to build strong relationships and demand/encourage/reward growers to produce better quality, Fairtrade or not.”

Real Relationships

Ah, relationships. Remove the standards, remove the price structures and the certifications and the premiums, and what it all boils down to is maintaining relationships of respect, equality, and partnership. This is implicit in the principles of the fair trade system, but it is slightly harder to measure.

Sampling Green Beans
Lucas Garcia (right) and mill staff smelling fresh parchment at GUAYA’B Guatemala.

Like many coffee roasters, we regularly visit origin, spend time with cooperatives, and witness the realities of growing, harvesting, and processing coffee. It is always exciting to sample the fruits of the latest harvest, but more important to us is understanding challenges facing our trading partners, and exploring ways we can strengthen our support for them. I couldn’t put it better than Rene does in a similar Peoples Blog post over a year ago: “We choose co-ops that are organized in such a way that our trade will have a tangible positive impact on the sustainability of production, and on the lives and communities of the farmers who produce it.” This is why we visit origin, this is why we invest in relationships. There are many companies who are not fair trade certified who place equal importance on relationships with farming communities, and there are many direct traders who have equitable and ethical partnerships at the heart of their business. This is something that you don’t necessarily need a fair trade label to do.

A Cooperative Member
Marvin Perez manager of APODIP co-op in Guatemala, the warmest man you could meet.

But we do feel that the World Fair Trade Organisation certification informs, underpins, and to a point guarantees our ethical-ness as a business. We are accountable through our certification to a set of minimum standards that underpin prices, premiums and relationships. We will always endeavor to hold ourselves to a higher ethical standard than our fair trade certification does, but our customers can be guaranteed, through our certification, that we are at least doing the least we can do.

Of course it is possible to not be fair trade certified and still be a direct trader and an ethical company. Unfortunately it is also possible to have fair trade certification and to not always be as ethical as you should. We hold ourselves to our own, very high standards of equitable trade and partnership, and we hope that our customers do too.


August 27th, 2014


Posted In: Activism, Branding, Certifications, Coffee, Cooperatives, Fair trade, Sustainability, Sustainable

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Copper V60

I’ve studied the commerce side of coffee for two years, and consider myself reasonably well versed in the ins and outs of supply and demand. However, I’ll be the first to admit – I’m not the most well versed member of the PC team when it comes to coffee preparation. I’ve been practicing at home how to correctly brew a plunger coffee, and now I’ve graduated to the V60.  Yes – three months ago I may have thought a V60 was some kind of ab workout machine, but luckily for you reader, I have access to some of Wellington’s leading authorities on the complex world of coffee – and also, google. So – even if you are as ignorant of grinds and blooms and pouring techniques as I was, by the end of this post you will be fully equipped to embark on a V60 brewing adventure at home.

V60 interior

Why should you? Well because, despite the technical sounding name this is a relatively simple and affordable way to get the most out of your coffee beans. The V60 design includes interior ridges which reduce contact with the paper filter and allow the water to run more freely. It also has a large exit hole meaning you control the extraction time – using pour technique and grind size. All of this basically means that the V60 will produce a light-bodied brew, with clearer, more nuanced flavour than you would get with immersion techniques. It’s easier to control and more forgiving than the chemex. It is fast and precise, as long as you get the basics down… so scroll down for the basics.

V60 101:

First, you’re not going to get away with skimping on the scales or timer. You need them. Coffee is chemistry, and chemistry is precision. For a 2 cup V60 you want to use 22 grams of freshly ground coffee to 350mls of water, for a 1 cup V60 use 13 grams coffee and 210mls water (a 1:16 ratio). 

V60 ready to pour

Poise your V60 cone atop a drinking vessel (aka mug). Place a paper filter inside the cone. Make sure to pre-wet your paper filter with near boiling water to get rid of any papery flavours, and to warm your vessel/mug, empty just before brewing. Dose your ground coffee into the wet filter. The grind should be medium to coarse – a sandy consistency but slightly finer than a plunger grind.

v60 grind

Now for the bloom, which looks as delicious as it sounds. Boil the water and allow to cool for around 60 seconds. It should be about 94 degrees. Preferably using a jug that allows for a slow, controlled pour, pour in an amount of water that equals twice the weight of the amount of coffee you have in your cone, depending on its size. (OK, I’ll break that down – use 30mls of water for a 1 cup V60, and 50mls for a 2 cup.) Make sure you wet all the coffee. This should be enough for the coffee to start to absorb the water, without letting it extract, and drip into the vessel. It will expand (or bloom) slightly. You may now pause to take in the glory of the bloom for 20 – 30 seconds.

Bloom

Now you can start pouring the rest of your water. There is some debate over whether it is best to pour all the water at once, or to pour smaller amounts at 30 second intervals. This often depends on the type of coffee you are using but there is no consensus as to what is best. I’m afraid I must leave it up to you to experiment here… take some time to find out which technique produces the best flavours for you (if it tastes good – stick with it, practice makes perfect!) Pour slowly in circles, wetting all of the surface evenly. A couple of gentle, circular stirs can help prevent clogging.

V60 pour

Once the brew has slowed to a drip, and the top bed of coffee is just starting to dry out, remove the filter, take a deep breath, and survey the fruits of your labour. Mine were in this fancy glass jug (below). But I promise it will taste just as good in a cup.

Brewed

Now, enjoy. You may find that new flavours develop as the coffee cools, so take your time over it. We’ve provided general guidelines as to brew time, grind size, and ratios here – but all you home chemists (not in a Breaking Bad way) should experiment to find your own perfect V60 technique. Also, if you’re looking to acquire any of the equipment, you will find all you need here.

Happy brewing!


August 13th, 2014


Posted In: Brewing, Coffee, Coffee geek out, Constable Street

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Yesterday the Peoples Coffee team went on a family outing to paradise, also known as the Wellington Chocolate Factory.  Not only was the adventure pleasing to our taste buds, but it turns out that coffee geeks and chocolate geeks have a lot in common, and the roasting experts among us found kindred spirits in chocolatiers Gabe and Rochelle.

Specialty chocolate is relatively rare in New Zealand – and single origin roasts even rarer. We sampled strong, dark Dominican, plummy Madagascar,  apricotty Peruvian, and a smoky Bougainvillian roast that tasted like bacon. In a good way.

The depth of knowledge and enthusiasm of our hosts bordered on obsessive and reminded us of one or two coffee roasters we know – who had their heads together and their sensitive noses stuck in cacao pods for the duration of the visit.

There is a reason that coffee roasters and chocolate roasters are alike: The products are alike – more alike than we realised.

Like Arabica and Robusta coffee, cacao beans come in two main varieties: Forestero, and Criollo. The former is more abundant, and of poorer quality generally, and the latter is the real delicacy. Also like coffee, there is a hybrid between the two – called Trinitario, which has a higher yield, is of high quality, and is more disease resistant (like coffee hybrids.) Wellington Chocolate Factory beans are either Criollo or Trinitario.

Like coffee, supermarket chocolate is a world away from specialty chocolate. Confectionery chocolate has additives to sweeten it to the point that it loses its fruity acidity. As with high quality coffee, specialty chocolate doesn’t have additives, and until you’ve tasted that – you don’t know what chocolate tastes like.

Chocolate is processed like coffee: First fermented, then washed, then sun dried, then roasted. The quality of the soil, the age of the trees, the latitude of the farm and the cultivation techniques of the farmers all have a profound influence on the final product.

Like coffee, cacao plants are susceptible to devastating disease, which wipes out hectares of crops.

Like coffee, chocolate is known as a crop of poverty, and has been connected to exploitation and even child slavery.  However – the Wellington Chocolate Factory  buys from ethical growers, and is deeply conscious of its role in supporting its producers. So conscious, in fact, that they’re starting a kickstarter campaign to give independent farmers in Bougainville the processing equipment they need to stay afloat amid the increasing corporatization of the industry there. If cacao can generate real returns to Bougainvillians, Gabe explains, there won’t be a return to disputes over the local mine that lead to years of civil conflict. Bougainville may even be able to become truly independent from Papua New Guinea.

We wouldn’t mind a bit more smoky Bougainville roast on the market here either.

Check out the Welllington Chocolate Factory’s Facebook page, or peruse their website for more information. Better yet – head down there! They can be found nestled in Eva Street, between Dixon and Ghuznee.

 


July 30th, 2014


Posted In: Brewing, Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Coffee geek out, Collaboration, Cooperatives, Fair trade

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Peoples Coffee started out ten years ago as a social enterprise, before that term was part of our common vernacular. This year we have allocated a specific fund dedicated to supporting social initiatives within our community here in New Zealand, and at coffee origin. Our recent partnership with Wellington’s Multicultural Learning and Support Services (MCLaSS) for their World Refugee Day fundraising has proven the idea a success.

We have the regular privilege of  serving MCLaSS teachers and students at our Constable Street Café as one of their classes takes place right across the road. We were stoked when MCLaSS approached us to formalise this relationship and in a way, complete the circle by giving back to some of our most loyal customers.

“We realised that Peoples Coffee has a kaupapa of giving back to the community, and we felt we could build a relationship on that” says Mary Collie-Holmes from MCLaSS. She had been involved with Miramar’s Holy Cross School in developing a class to provide English language tutoring for migrant and refugee parents within the school community. The successful programme had caught the attention of a teacher at Berhampore school. His idea was to provide evening tutorials for parents, to strengthen their conversational English skills. The participants and their children would share a meal, then the school’s teachers would provide acivities for the children while their parents would learn and practice new conversation skills. Mary stresses the importance of English skills for parents, in taking an active role in their children’s education, and being part of the school community.

Designing a teaching programme, employing tutors, and providing meals costs money, and funding can be hard to come by. This is where Peoples Coffee comes in. On World Refugee Day, the 20th of June, we donated all the proceeds from our café towards the project. Café Manager Eileen says it was a really great turnout, and customers were thrilled to learn more about, and support MCLaSS’ work.

We were also invited to be part of a fundraising speaker event held at the excellent Preservatorium Café and Cannery, where Roaster Rene provided samples of single origin roasts from some of MClaSS’ clients’ home countries, along with expert home brewing tips. Green MP Jan Logie, and Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown were amongst those who came to the event to support Wellington’s refugee and migrant community.  Jan Logie, on the Greens’ facebook page, says “On World Refugee Day it’s important to acknowledge the amazing work that goes on behind the scenes in New Zealand” and we couldn’t agree more.

We are delighted that our support has contributed to MCLaSS and Berhampore School’s project being able to go ahead in August, and we look forward to continuing our relationship, and continuing to put our social initiatives fund to good use.

If you’d like to know more about MCLaSS, check out their website.

(Photos courtesy of Jan Logie and the Green Party’s facebook page).

 


July 16th, 2014


Posted In: Activism, Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Ethiopia

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Hello, I’m Kelle. I’ve been working at Peoples Coffee for about 4 weeks, but enjoying it for much longer. I’m basically the new admin/sales/all-rounder person. Or possibly more accurately: Making-it-up-as-I-go-along.

Two years ago, I knew roughly as much about coffee as your average Wellingtonian, meaning I drank enough of it to sustain an honours degree and two jobs, but still had a bit to learn about what was in my cup.

I fell further into the world of coffee in 2013 when I embarked on a master’s thesis in Development Studies. I’d happened to read an article about inequity in the coffee industry in Timor-Leste. I had always been interested in fair trade, and I wondered to what extent fair trade impacted on the lives of the farmers there.

Six months and dozens of funding applications later, somebody with resources decided the research was worthwhile and I was on a plane.

Armed with a few phone numbers and a very skinny Lonely Planet, I spent the first couple of days trying to reassure myself, and my funders, that I was equipped to investigate what was a very complex and quite specialised subject.

My break came in the form of Pedro Soares, an English student at the local university who cheerfully agreed to accompany me up into the mountainous coffee districts. We stayed with his relatives, and interviewed every farmer we came across on the jungle roads.

I’ve traveled and researched in developing countries before, but I was deeply shocked at the level of poverty that existed in Timor’s rural districts. Timor-Leste is the least developed country in Asia. Its people have overcome hundreds of years of occupation, most recently fighting an extremely bloody resistance against Indonesian control.

The average coffee farmer in Timor makes US$100-250 a year, for their whole family. Infrastructure is almost non-existent, yields are low, and farmers are beholden to three large companies who buy their coffee at very low prices. The coffee is generally sold either to Starbucks, or into instant blends for supermarket shelves.

I was starting to piece together a pretty dismal picture of the reality of being a coffee farmer in Timor. I felt angry, but also impassioned – I realised the transformative potential that fair trade could have in empowering producers, and allowing them greater control over the industry, and greater returns.

Back at home I was realising that anger, passion and Timorese coffee couldn’t completely sustain me, and I probably needed a part-time job while I was writing my thesis. When I saw that Peoples were hiring I jumped on it. I had interviewed Rene as part of my research, and was really drawn to the ethos of the company. I saw an opportunity to be part of an organisation that addressed all those things I was feeling angry about.

So here I am, 20,000 words down, 20,000 to go. I’ve had a crash-course in all things coffee over the past year, and am looking forward to continuing my caffeine-based education.

 


July 2nd, 2014


Posted In: Brewing, Certifications, Coffee, Fair trade

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Mid-year for roasters is both a frustrating and exciting time. Frustrating because a lot of our green coffee is now old and roasting profiles must be regularly checked to compensate for aging…But exciting because around this time the fresh coffee harvest starts to arrive from various exotic locations. When a fresh bag is opened the Roastery is filled with the beautiful fragrance of green coffee. Almost all our coffees are now arriving in GrainPro plastic bags, which preserve the coffee from going stale or absorbing gasses. Some coffees which would usually be noticeably faded at six months, are now still tasting great because of GrainPro.

Coffee has an annual harvest, which happens at different times in different countries depending on the ripeness of the cherries. A lot of work goes into the harvest, processing and shipping of coffee, and oftentimes things don’t work quite to the schedule one might have been expecting. Involvement in this process does require a certain amount of flexibility, but from May container ships start to arrive on our shores packed with beans ready for roasting. MAF like to check containers – especially ones coming from deep Africa – and occasionally our containers are flushed with oxygen, or frozen to eradicate any bugs (organically, of course).

This year the African ports are delayed (again) and we will run a bit short until the container ship traverses the shipping routes and clears customs. This is fairly common – African coffees are regularly held up (for some reason or other) and we don’t always receive the coffee when expected.

As a customer you may not actually ever notice, but every roaster at some time will find the need to re-work a blend; to change the ratio of coffees, or to re-blend a new origin in to maintain a consistent flavour. Some coffees have a reasonably interchangeable nature and are accommodating if a blend needs to be re-worked, but others are more unique and harder to replace without drastic flavour changes.

Most of our coffees we have brought from the same farmers for nigh-on 10 years, and while it is the same land, as with all agricultural products there can be variations from year to year. Sometimes a coffee will have a slightly different fruitiness, or have more body relative to the last harvest. Over the next few months some of our coffees may be slightly different in nature, and hopefully the noticeable difference will be a fullness of flavour that is lively and pleasing.

Each year I use the new harvest period as an opportunity to assess all our coffees; what we like about them, and ways we can continue to hone our delicate roasting and brewing protocols to always bring out their full potential. Over the weeks that the coffees are arriving I am continuously sample-roasting each product in different ways to understand its subtle flavours and qualities, and to develop the retail roast profile. This maintains consistency while making the coffee taste better.

I have been very excited this year about the Bolivia, which is our current Single Origin Espresso. This is an excellent coffee and has allowed me to experiment with some new roasting techniques for espresso, by which I have been trying to eliminate all bitterness from the short black, and promote sweetness and fruity acidity.

We will also be releasing some new Rwanda, Timor-Leste, Ethiopia Wenago, and perhaps a Congo as they arrive.

Keep your palate handy,

Rene


June 20th, 2014


Posted In: Africa, Coffee, Cooperatives, Ethiopia, Fair trade

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Recently I was featured in a report about leaf rust in coffee and it sparked some very interesting responses – yes Renee is a girls name, but I’m René, it’s French, ok?! Maybe I should have listened when they said “Never read the comments”, unfortunately I did, but it did pull up some interesting questions and ideas on what is important in a media piece on coffee.

Leaf rust is one of the many challenges the coffee industry has been facing for decades and has been changing the way coffee is produced for years. Stories which are presented in the media are usually pitched at how it affects the consumer and plied with a click bait headline – “Coffee as we know it at risk of dying”. The story was reported as if rust will wipe out all coffee in the world and we all become decaffeinated zombies!

This isn’t quite true however, coffee “as we know it” is being affected by rust but it’s not suddenly dying on us. For decades work has been done addressing the issue of leaf rust – new resistant varietals are being created, and there is a change in the direction of high level information which guides the industry towards more sustainable farming practices.

The leaf rust story was more current for us early last year when I was visiting producers in Guatemala and Nicaragua and saw the impact of rust first hand as it spread through Latin America. So much so that I wrote about it then. Rust has made a palpable impact on many of the farmers we’ve bought from for years. It was heart breaking to see the farmers’ bare trees. These are producers who have worked their land successfully for years and whose coffee you have probably drunk from Peoples Coffee many times.

Coffee in a State of Change

There is something like 25 million families involved in growing coffee and statistics say the average payout is only around $250Us dollars a person/ per year (4 persons per family). Currently at least 5 countries have declared a state of national emergency due to the wider impacts of reduced production, however this has had little change to the global stocks of available coffee, (global stocks are part of what dictate coffee price). Coffee is a big deal for so many people globally, it is not going to die, but coffee as we currently know it will change, from what kinds of coffee are available and how they make up the global stocks.

Not All Coffee is Created Equal.

There are two very different types of coffee on our shelves.

Instant coffee (and most supermarket pre-ground brick coffee), which is low-grade commodity coffee, mostly robusta (low quality, high caffeine). This grade makes up most of the global production and consumption, and is responsible for dictating the street price of green coffee globally. Often when it is reported that the green bean price is at “an all time low” they are talking about this type of coffee, not the coffee we drink in our flat whites.

Cafe quality coffee, which in NZ is mostly specialty grade Arabica coffee, this require more controls during all stages to produce a product which has desirable flavours. Companies that are committed to trade justice and better living conditions for farmers will be paying far more than the “street price” quoted in the media.

The demand has been easily meet with commodity coffee and more and more is being produced. There is also more demand for higher grade coffee (for cafes), but this is harder to produce and isn’t quite keeping up with demand as fast as the cheap coffee. The progressive work done in the industry is focused mainly on two categories: development done for agronomy ( less quality flavours and cheeper beans), or development for cup profile (more expensive, better tasting). These developments are great for the future of the industry, but it will require new plants to be distributed and grown, which takes years, and may not really be the best way to deal with the issue from many peoples point of view.

Quality vs Value

Everyone can generally taste difference between expensive and cheap products, we all have our favourite beer, wine or chocolate. What we buy will depend on many different factors – it may be economic, to support local production, brand appeal, or because after trying them all- it was your favourite. But any of these factors may not necessarily translate to the highest quality.

Instant coffee has a place in this world and there is no shame in drinking it but it needs to be recognised there is infinitely more work and value put into producing a high quality product like quality cafe coffee. For a well made, high quality coffee, with organic milk, made by a well trained barista on a good wage in a nice environment you should be willing to pay a premium price. However, that flat white is not on the same playing field with a quick coffee using cheap quality coffee beans and low paid staff. When it comes to coffee, you can usually expect to get what you pay for. If cheap is what you are after, then shop around for the best price. If a good coffee experience is what you are after (all those quality factors listed above), then shop around for the best experience until you are happy, but don’t assume the two will naturally meet.

Organic

Every product in the world is full of chemicals, what we are talking about are biologically structured chemicals in potencies which are (most often by definition) harmful to humans, animals and the environment, but act as steroids for plants.

The reason Peoples Coffee chose organic is because of the negative impact chemical use has on farming families’ health and the bigger picture of food production, health and the planet. Many chemicals are available to producers (sometimes subsidised from US govt) to put on plants throughout Mesoamerica. This is something you should be genuinely worried about as it is often not known how to correctly handle these substances (there is no OSH for coffee farms). The impact is very clearly damaging, from what we’ve heard from farmers who have used them, and seeing it up close on coffee origin trips (not to mention all the research).

The goal in organic production is to produce a product which is sustainable and safe for humans to produce, not to supply you with a cheap cup of coffee. Pesticides are used in large-scale commodity farming to reduce work needed for production. But for many producers using chemicals is about choosing a higher yield and bigger pay day over the the long term health for them and their family.

It can be misconstrued that coffee roasters are bullying farmers into organic production for our own increased market share, there really isn’t enough supply or demand for organic coffee to justify this position. For Peoples Coffee it is about a holistic 21st century attitude towards having enjoyable world for ourselves and our children, and rolling these expectations for our own life into the lives of our supply chain.

Luxury and Ethics

In order to have your two cups of coffee a day, it requires a farmer to harvest around 18 trees a year. These people should be your best friend I reckon! And it’s important to remember that when sipping on your daily flat white.

Coffee isn’t a right it should be a luxury. The history of coffee is fraught when viewed with a 2014 world view, which is why it is important to keep it’s history topical in your mind when addressing the big picture. If nothing is changing in the industry, then those bad practices are still happening, which has helped to keep developing countries behind, and first world profits ahead.

Consumers can make a conscious choice to support everyone in the supply chain while also choosing a high quality product. This is true value because it benefits everyone in the process. So yes, leaf rust is a serious problem, it is a problem for farmers whose livelihoods depend on first world coffee consumption. Let’s change the conversation, from if you’ll get your cup of coffee in the morning, to how this has a profound of effect on peoples lives.

Where do you place value on your favourite products?

 

René

 

 

 

 

 

 


June 4th, 2014


Posted In: Activism, Branding, Certifications, Coffee, Cooperatives, Fair trade, Sustainability

5 Comments

We welcome this week’s guest blogger Delaney Mes – ex Wellingtonian, coffee aficionado, eater of good food, writer for Heartbreak Pie, Metro Restaurant of the year judge and Auckland resident. We can sing the praises of The Roskill Coffee Project all we want, but who better to check it out and really put it under the hammer than Delaney, a true gastronome – Beth

 

A wise person once told me that there’s more money in chasing good ideas, than good ideas chasing money. I love meeting people turning their lives and their work into something that isn’t solely focused on making the most money possible. It makes me feel better when I can’t afford to pay my phone bill to know that others have given up salaries and office-jobs to do something they’re passionate about too. And there’s few ways I’d rather spend an afternoon than drinking perfectly made coffee in the sunshine talking ideas with interesting people.

So, to The Roskill Coffee Project I trekked on Tuesday. It was there I met Paul and Ana, two of the three partners running a café in a community centre. But it’s so much more than a café. First things first, it serves Peoples Coffee. Up here in Auckland we’re a bit deprived of one of my favourite Wellington coffee brands (three cafes so far, hopefully many more to come) so I was very excited to hear about this place, not far from my hood.

The Roskill Coffee Project is a community-focused initiative, the three co- managers – Ana and Paul who I met, plus their friend Rowan, who looks after the books– are all passionate locals who wanted to do something for the Mt Roskill community they love so much. It’s one of the more culturally diverse areas of Auckland, reflected in the managers themselves who hark originally from Scotland (Paul), Sri Lanka (Ana) and South Africa (Rowan). They come from varying work backgrounds too, Ana is a former lawyer (my favourite kind) and they’d each been involved in youth and community work before; the café as an idea seemed a way it could all tie together. Wanting something sustainable as a business model, 100% of the profits (“when we make a profit” jokes Paul) will go back into the community.

The café itself is across the courtyard at the Wesley Community Centre, a space they share. Part of the deal is that the café space is used by others outside of the operating hours, something they had to negotiate. Apart from all the good stuff it’s doing – serving fairtrade food and drinks (also halal and baked and prepared onsite), providing inexperienced young people work experience and part time jobs – it’s a fantastic spot for a café anyway. And a café wouldn’t survive if the coffee wasn’t any good and so the coffee, of course, was great.

The trio saw too many school leavers and youth unable to get a foot in the door with employment, so training them to beef up their CVs with skills and experience was the impetus for the model. And one that so far appears to be working. They opened in December with two trainees on trial, both of whom have now been employed on a permanent basis.

There’s a fruit and vegetable market twice a week right outside, and it’s there you get a true sense of the community this café is nestled amongst. And for those of us who miss their Peoples fix and work nearby are able to get retail beans too, all served up with a smile.


May 14th, 2014


Posted In: Cafes, Coffee, Fair trade

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It’s pretty impossible to check out completely from work when you work for a coffee roastery, because the places you like to relax serve coffee. Last month in a whirlwind tour of Europe, I packed in six countries in three weeks. The only “rest days” were the 6 hour train rides to the next destination. Needless to say good coffee was necessary, not only for research purposes but to help us survive our jam packed days. Days spent mostly eating and walking because how many churches and museums do you need to see before they all morph into one?

There is a lot of chat about there being no good coffee in Europe. Not a bad shout when most of it looks like this…

This was in fact my first coffee when I got to Vienna, the birth place of cafe culture. But we soon discovered there is a big difference between a coffeehouse and a cafe. The coffeehouse is more about a meeting spot and not about the coffee, but they still play important part of cafe going history. Luckily we found a caffeinated oasis in amongst the sludge – The Vienna School of Coffee, started by the bubbly Johanna Berger. She’s extremely passionate about coffee, she taught herself how fix coffee machines way before she even drunk the stuff. She has since become such an expert she is now a Cup of Excellence judge. We spent an hour cupping and swapping coffee, she also roasts her own and is supplying cafes in Austria and Hungary.

Hungary happened to be our next destination and recommended by Joanna we checked out two fantastic cafes. The first Fekete, which means Black in Hungarian. It was just a small hole in the wall (photo at the top of this blog) and served me the most incredible Yirgacheffe single origin espresso, it was intensely apricotty. A perfect antidote to the piercingly cold weather.

Espresso Embassy is also doing awesome things, there we met owner Tibor Varady, who came third last year in the World Aeropress Campionships. He ran after us to see if everything was ok after we left a little bit of coffee in our cup, it was mostly because we enjoyed the place so much we ended up staying in there so long and the coffee went cold. Highly recommend this place.

Next stop Prague. EMA Espresso Bar became our regular (of three days). Wonderful coffee, excellent snacks and pretty interior. What more do you want. This was recommended to us by the wonderful Taste of Prague food blog.

Ex Peoples Coffee Blogger Anna fired through an extensive list of Berlin cafes for me to check out and Five Elephant was definitely the highlight. Testament to that is that is was also recommended to me three times by three different people from three different countries! Opened by an American and a German guy, I swear he was a NZer but turns out he’d just lived in Wellington for 5 years and had picked up a perfect nu zuland accent. Also a big fan of Peoples Coffee, ace!

I avoided the “coffee shops” in Amsterdam but I was fortuitously in London at the same time as the London Coffee Festival.  This was quite overwhelming to say the least. Everyone is herded through in 2 hour slots, it felt like one of those supermarket grab competitions they did in the 90s just slightly longer, but just as manic. Heading away from the big showy (cough cough Starbucks cough) stands and heading to the small guys, I came away with some excellent beans. The highlights were seeing familiar faces at the Karma Cola stand (we both have crazy eyes here from the amount of coffee consumed).

The very new Roasting Party, whose very light roasted Yirgacheffe was incredibly sweet with lovely stone fruits on the nose. My favourite from the whole event.

Another stand out was Union Coffee’s Panama which just smelt and tasted like strawberries was another highlight. It was also amazing to see how many NZers have set up their own roasteries in London – Caravan and Nude two notable ones.

I felt like Father Christmas coming back to the roastery with a bag full of beans. Nine bags in fact, which made for an interesting explanation every time I went through airport security. Nothing looks more dodgy than a bag full of small round objects or as the security guy in Hong Kong told me “it’s just a bit weird”. Not in Wellington my friend.

 


May 1st, 2014


Posted In: Cafes, Coffee, Trips

These days certifications are a part of almost every product we buy. We trust them to do what they say, but perhaps we are also a little suspicious of who is benefiting from them, and if it makes a difference at all. There are quite a few certifications in coffee. Some relate to the product and how it is traded – i.e. fairtrade. And some relate to conditions in which the product is produced – i.e. shade grown or organic.

Certified coffee makes up a small part of the over all global coffee sales. For a roaster to buy certified coffee they are essentially eliminating the wider range of non-certified coffee available. From there they continue with their own criteria based on taste and availability to find good partners to trade with, thus eliminating more producers and coffees again. So some criticism comes from the smaller pool of coffee available to certified roasters. However the choice to buy certified products means the process meets an ethical criteria (which is verified by a third party) rather than taking someones word for it. No singular certification system will solve every issue in coffee, but it is an important step in giving the power back to the farmers that produce this product we love so much.

It is important to understand what each certification is for – what are its main goals, who benefits from them, and how. I’ve only scratched the surface with the following certifications, but these are a few of the main players. You’ll see not all are as transparant as others. I hope this gives you a little insight into making more informed decisions. If you have any questions about certifications I’ve missed out, please leave a comment below and I’ll try and answer them as best I can.

Peoples Coffee source beans that fall under a variety of certifications – these include FairtradeOrganic USDA,World fair Trade OrganisationEcocertUTZBCS Öko-GarantieMayacertICIAIFOAM, Naturaland and Bird-Friendly. Some of these we go out of our way to choose because of their certification, others are just a bonus. We are proud to call ourselves Fair Trade, which we achieve through our World Fair Trade Organisation certification, it allows us to be accountable and transparent about all our trading processes.

World Fair Trade Organisation is different from other fair trade certifications. The idea is that it is not one product line that will make a different with the poverty and injustice in the industry, but the business as a whole. A WFTO certified business must comply with ten basic principals. Wages, business sustainability, working conditions, equality for staff (amongst others) must reach a certain standard. Compliance for this is mostly done through accounting records, business objectives and profit levels.

This program was created to address green-washing and the over marketing of ethical products by businesses who buy and sell certified FT products and promote themselves as ethical but have poor business practices like low wages and poor working hours/conditions for their employees.

This certification is extremely hard to achieve, which is the point of it, there are only two certified businesses in NZ – Trade AidImporters and Peoples Coffee.

USDA Organic (US Dept of Agriculture) is the federal organic certification which verifies that a crop, livestock, farm and handling facilities comply with the USDA’s organic regulations. This is one of the global standards which most organic coffee is certified to.

Up to 95% of the product must be organic (allowing 5% unintentional mixing). Costs to be certified vary from $700 to $3000.

Most synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers can’t be used for 3 years to gain certification on land and crop. Coffee yields will drop as much as 30% when transitioning to organic, and a lot more work is required to keep trees healthy and producing good quality coffee.

If this coffee is also Fairtrade certified then 25 cents a pound is the premium, but normal sales doesn’t require a premium.

This is a stringent certification, requiring onsite checks, but many different bodies can certify to USDA standards.

 

 

Bird-Friendly (Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center) developed by ecologists to protect birds and their migratory paths across the world. It is not designed specifically for coffee quality, but coffee does benefit from it. Certification requires a 12meter shade canopy with 3 layers, at least 40% shade cover, 11 different species of shade trees, and many more complex requirements.

Coffee must already be certified organic by another body. Bird Friendly certified coffee has no required premium or minimum prices. This certification focuses on preserving forests for the birds (and the bees), it has very high standards and growing conditions which are ideal for producing coffee. There is some very good Bird-friendly certified coffees available.

Rainforest Alliance (est 1992) is an NGO who certify a variety of products, mainly forestry and agriculture including coffee, tea, cut flowers, bananas and chocolate. It is an older scheme originally for timber extraction, which until recently did not include coffee.

RFA uses SAN (sustainable agriculture research) as a basis for standards. Baseline criteria: coffee can be from non-shade and from in-organic conditions, shade grown coffee should have 2 layers of shade.

In general this certification seems to be used mainly by big businesses (e.g. McDonalds) and perhaps it isn’t specific enough to require many changes from the average diligent coffee farmer with shade grown coffee, but it does give a good basis for basic standards and practices.

However to be Rainforest Alliance approved, a product only needs to contain 30% certified beans. This means there is a lot of non-certified coffee being sold as a certified product, leaving plenty of room for green washing.

 

Fairtrade‘s focus is to raise the livelihoods of producers by addressing the imbalance in international trade relationships and unstable markets. It seeks to provide a minimum cost of production and direct trade relationships to further the benefits between farmer and roaster.

Baseline criteria: Fairtrade coffee certification is only open to small lot farmer organisations. Everybody has equal rights to vote and participate. Environmental standards restrict the use of agrochemicals and encourage sustainability.

“Producer organizations are paid a minimum price of US 1.40 per pound (for times of low market) or prices above this as negotiated. Organic coffee receives an extra minimum differential of US 30 cents per pound. A Fairtrade Premium of US 20c per pound for social and economic investments is to be distributed at the community and organizational level. Trade standards aim to encourage fairer negotiations, clarify the role of price fixing, and reduce speculation.”

Costs to join are around $2500 for producers, and 2% revenue for roasters to use the certification label on bags.

One of the main criticisms of Fairtrade coffee is that it doesn’t incentivise quality in its main criteria, and poorer quality coffee is sold under this mechanism.

The point of the Fairtrade certification is to target farmers and reward them for their coffee. It is the buyer who in charge of choosing the quality coffee they would like (Just like every system). Through FT there is an open relationship to build on better quality.

There is, of course, poorer grade FT coffee sold  and people manipulating the system by choosing who they sell the good and bad to and for how much. But I see this is a weakness in business not just the FT system as we see corruption everywhere.

Peoples Coffee have bought many containers of good quality origins for espresso blends, as well as micro lots, single farmer lots, single variety lots, zero defect lots, and all as certified FT coffee.

There are systems which incentivise quality like Cup of Excellence. However it is an entirely different trading market. COE are small amounts of coffee and is purely focused on the cup quality. It doesn’t really care who, where, how it was produced, as long as it “cups well” (scores high on a 100 point flavour based system). Comparing these very expensive coffees to the quality of the coffees we drink for $4 a cup, is like comparing a $300 bottle of wine from vineyard to a $30 supermarket bottle, because its  COE coffees we drink in out flat whites every day at our regular cafe.

 

Fair Trade USA is a fairly new offshoot from Fairtrade with whom they share many goals and criteria, but broke off to create FTUSA to further the reach of their goals. FTUSA have opened up who can join their certification to allow seasonal farm workers and estates to be FTUSA certified. This is at odds with FT who only certify small lots farmers who form co-ops. The distinction is that estates usually only have one land owner (or family) who control the business, and workers are just paid a wage and have no control.

This has caused a slight rift in the FT world, partly because some co-ops struggle to sell all of their coffee for sustainable certified prices as it is.

Also it looks like big businesses can buy the same cheap coffee they currently do, and just certify the producer through FTUSA to turn it into certified “ethical” coffee. The potential for green washing seems much higher when anyone can be certified.

FTUSA want to tackle global poverty, and want to be able to certify almost anyone producing coffee as the means of achieving this. Seasonal workers make up many pickers during harvest time and are currently unrepresented, so there is a real need. But the FT mechanism works when it uses a unified community group that work together to meet their shared goals, how seasonal workers can participate or benefit in small scale community democracy is a challenging idea, and its in early days of its growth of the certification, but one to keep an eye on.

 

Peoples Coffee have been using 100 % Fair Trade and organic coffee since we started 10 years ago, this is because we want to ensure we make a positive impact through trading and Fairtrade is built to help with this process, not because we want to be branded as certified.

Peoples Coffee continues to use certifications because of the inherent standards and practices they build into the system. It means we can have globally recognised standards as a base line and we are held accountable to these standards, not just our own.

Certification helps us to demonstrate the authenticity as a business by being transparent in our trading practices and gives the power back to the customer to make an informed decision about who they give their money to.

For more information on how Peoples Coffee trade, you can read our page on fair trade and why co-ops matter.

You can also learn more about the World Fair Trade Organisations ten principles of Fair Trade here.

 

 

 

 

 


April 17th, 2014


Posted In: Branding, Certifications, Coffee, Cooperatives, Fair trade, Sustainability, Sustainable

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A geek is commonly described as someone who is extremely enthusiastic about specialist subject. So whether that is coding, animation, flappy bird or coffee; we are all of the same ilk. Earlier this month geeks of all facets descended on the St James for NZ’s leading web conference – Webstock.

If you follow us on twitter, you would have seen we provided the 800 conference goers with their daily caffeine. If you weren’t attending…then you probably unfollowed us due to the extreme FOMO you suffered and I don’t blame you. Webstock is a conference like no other – do your conferences have popcorn and Woodenspoon ice cream on tap or a special Garage Project brew for afternoon tea? Webstock is a world class conference focused on celebrating all things internet, with some seriously amazing speakers like Charlie Todd from Improv Everywhere, Hannah Donovan of This is my Jam and Aaron Walter from MailChimp – So internet, much web, wow.

With so much information to take in over those two days, Webstockers consume a serious amount of coffee. With two espresso stations over two days, I worked out we served around 2500 coffees.With an average of 3.5 hours of break time per day, that had our baristas cranking out about 6 coffees a minute!

We’ve been involved with Webstock for a few years now but this year we thought we’d take it up a notch. Inspired by the red velvet, gold decal and elegant surroundings of the St James, we thought we’d add to the show. With this two day meeting of great minds, we paid tribute to the iconic coffeehouses of Paris 1920′s.When Picasso would rub shoulders with Hemingway and Fitzgerald, sharing ideas, musings and gossip; a bit like Twitter of the time (#IRL). With it hidden away and a bit more chilled out it allowed us to showcase a variety of soft brews and an array of single origins, but possibly our finest hour, was channeling The Dude and offering Cold Flat White Russians at the after party.

It was such a pleasure to hang out with so many incredible people, we learnt a lot just hanging out on the sidelines and it was great being able to add to the education and enlightenment in our own special way.

You can follow us back Twitter and Instagram now


February 26th, 2014


Posted In: Brewing, Coffee, Coffee geek out, Collaboration

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We have seven single origin retail beans that make appearances in our silos at Constable St and with the variety of retail coffee that we offer, there is some serious opportunity for experimentation. So I got my experimenting pants on and decided to have a play around with the different brew methods we have at Constable street. I thought I could describe to you the differences each one made to one of our single origin coffees.

Coffee is subjective so I never think one origin is better than the other. But I have been drinking a lot of Sidamo recently, it’s a light and bright fruity, sweet and intensely aromatic coffee. So using the Sidamo as the constant and a no filter brew as the control I thought I could explain the effects alternative methods have on the Sidamo’s inherent flavour profile. I think a good place to start after no filter, then siphon and the trifecta – a special automatic brewer we have at constable street – and then through the paper filters of the V60 and Chemex.

No filter – the no filter brew is similar to house hold plunger, in that it is an immersion brew. With this control method the Sidamo brew that came out was rich, malty and chocolatey at first, a sweet vegetal aroma, then through a phase of milk chocolate and malts with a rich berry sweet finish. The brew tasted of sweet malts and berries, blue berries or blackberries and dry, crisp red apple. The crisp apple flavour was met with some grapey acidity and a bright lemon finish later in the brew. With this in mind its time to compare these flavours with the magnified or manipulated flavours of the brews.

Next up I got into the fancy filters, starting with the Siphon. The Siphon is a tricky piece of equipment to master, but can produce some amazing tasting clean cups of coffee. The aroma of this brew was also much more malty and spicy. The cloth filter of the siphon manipulates the flavour of the coffee subtly producing a strong, silky smooth, rich cup of berry sweet chocolatey filter coffee.

Next I brewed a V-60, and I have to say, it was a bangin’ cup of coffee (just quietly). The paper filter of the V-60 produced an extremely clean, juicy cup of coffee. Intensely sweet, fruity aroma, It without word of a lie smelt like gummy lollies. The brew was so sweet when hot and it only got better from there, cacao and berry/red apple acidity, bright grapey flavours even raspberry. A crisp cup of coffee, so good that I drank it cold and it had more to give!

I then moved on to the big boy Chemex, brewing so much more coffee is a different game to the V-60, slightly different geometry and weight of paper filter seems to make a significant different cup. The Chemex brew was a rich and smooth, it had a sweet vegetal aroma that took over much more than the V-60. This translated into rich, sweet dark berry flavours teamed with zesty acidity – a bright finish compared to the red apple of the V-60.

Here was the surprise to me, the Trifecta. A special automatic brewer that we are lucky enough to have at Constable St. It is a strange combination of immersion and pressurised brewing and kind of works like an automatic Aeropress. The cup was mind blowing! Juicy, malic acidity, gorgeous mouth-feel. It was clean, dry and sweet with a dominating red apple characteristic, it was bright and all around freaking awesome! As it cooled it had a tasty cherry sweet cocoa finish.

So in the end, no one brew method is right or wrong, just different – manipulating the flavour in its own way. The numbers and the science that we deal with behind the scenes might tell us where to start in order to present products for you to try, but ultimately its up to your personal preference as to which is your favourite. Hense, the experimentation! Mine was definitely a close race between the Trifecta and the V-60, I definitely recommend getting down to Constable St and trying a few for yourself. Or grabbing a retail bag and brewing a cup or two at home.

 


February 12th, 2014


Posted In: Brewing, Coffee, Coffee geek out, Uncategorized

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I’m Ben Neason (my flatmate implored me to call myself Bean Neason) and I am the new Warehouse Manager and sometimes roaster. Although, up until now, I’ve only had a little to do with the coffee industry (I worked on two organic coffee farms in Byron Bay), it is something that is very much part of my daily life. You’ll find a coffee in my hand at most hours of the day. In fact I’m pretty sure my blood is 50% coffee and I’m not interesting to find out what happens if I stop drinking it. My love affair with coffee began, unfortunately, after University (It would have made life a lot easier had I discovered it earlier). It has flourished since then to the point where we will go through life together hand in hand for the rest of my days.

I like buying records and eating potato chips. Plunger is my jam, especially when combined with a verandah and a sunny Saturday. Mexican Chiapas is my current bean du jour, we filtered a bullet from the green beans the other day. While they are most likely rabbit shooting bullets, I like to think they are cartel bullets from some sort of Breaking Bad type mix up.

I recently returned from some travel abroad and when it came time to join the work force again I wanted to find a business that had the right philosophy. I’ve spent too many hours giving my energy to workplaces that, in all honesty, probably don’t deserve it. I couldn’t be more excited to turn up to work each day knowing that I’m helping to peddle positive social change, one bean at a time. Before working at Peoples I had always sought out fair trade coffee as it’s a small, and yet very easy way to make a difference.

I look forward to reporting back about my adventures in roasting!

 


January 29th, 2014


Posted In: Brewing, Coffee, Coffee geek out

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Coffee Seasons

Coffee grows on trees and can be harvested once a year. It is part of the drupe family, meaning the flowers will grow in to coffee seeds, which then become cherries with grape like flesh covering the seeds. The cherry spends around 9 months ripening from the flower stage. They are climacteric so must be picked when the fruit is ripe, as it won’t ripen after picking (unlike strawberries or grapes). Any positive flavours in coffee are all related to the sugars and acids present when picked at optimal ripeness.

Once the coffee is picked and processed to its green form (unroasted) it can last anywhere from 6 months to just over a year before the more lively interesting flavours start to fade. Each country has different harvest dates relating to its rain season. Throughout the year roasters receive different coffees arriving from all around the world, relating to its harvest season and shipping routes. This gives us the seasonality to freshly harvested coffee. When the coffee arrives in the roastery its always very exciting to open the bag (which are hermetically sealed) and have a good smell, they smell a bit like a banana milkshake and hay, with warm rainy day puddle smell.

Harvest Trip Seasons

Each year Peoples Coffee visit some of our producers during the harvest. We visit farms to taste some coffees which will be available that year. Harvest trips are invaluable for the roaster to understand the complexities of the work being done by the producer and an opportunity to share about our respective roles in producing quality sustainable coffee.

For a roaster fresh new coffees are very exciting and following the harvest trip the stories from the trip are still fresh in the mind. This year we have chosen to release a new seasonal espresso blend based on the coffees from Guatemala and Nicaragua, following our last harvest trip, which consists of:

50% Guaya’b

50% Monte Verde

Guaya’b (Guatemala) have been busy in the last few years finishing their new processing mill, rotational driers and warehouse. Giving them better controls and consistency over processing, and raising the quality potential of their coffee.

The flavour profile has always been great from Guaya’b, with a complex caramel body highlighted by a grapey acidity, citrus and berries notes, it has always been one of my favourite single origins.

PRODECOOP (Nicaragua) are a large secondary level co-op, who have had great processing facilities for years, and a team who are very motivated to produce excellent coffee. Monte Verde are a primary co-op who supply PRODECOOP, its membership is 25 women and 40 men. The coffee from this micro lot was processed to a level of zero defects by hand. It has a lovely up front grilled orange sweetness, a full malty flavour and buttery body.

I have roasted these coffees together, with a shorter roast time, developing a fruity sweetness as its acidity, giving a nice marmalade/ candied lemon and apple acidity, backed up with a good development through first crack to produce body, coconut and buttery caramels, with a brown sugar sweetness. I have focused this roast to develop no bitterness as espresso, looking for short brew times and higher yield shots for espresso.

I trust you will enjoy the fruits of our last harvest trip.

René

The seasonal espresso blend can be purchased online or at Constable street.


November 28th, 2013


Posted In: Brewing, Cafes, Coffee, Trips

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Ok you super cool long black drinkers, this one isn’t for you. Anyway shouldn’t you be finishing your architecture degree? (I kid, I kid).

This time we’re talking about milk. Glorious milk – my favourite food group. Without it we wouldn’t have butter, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream and halloumi (halloumi is it’s own special category of awesome). Just as we have done with coffee in the last few years, we are also wising up to our milk. Thankfully the days of bowl lattes are behind us, and it isn’t the quantity of milk we are looking for now in our coffee – it is the quality. So much so that I decided to open up the playing field a bit. I sat down with Rene and Robbie for a little taste test between some different milks and how that can affect your flat white.

Zorganic


At Constable Street, they’ve been using Zany Zeus’s milk since it opened in 2004. The difference in taste between this milk and your standard milks is palpable. I waffled on about my favourite cup of coffee in my first post, and looking back the fact that it was Zorganic milk would have also played a major role in my love fest. These guys can do no wrong. Rene sums it up perfectly by saying that with Zorganic milk you “ aren’t tasting the milk”. Its softness, sweetness and balanced flavour acts as a perfect foundation for the coffee, showcasing it instead of stealing the show.

Budget


This is your standard, run of the mill, Fonterra milk. Most of the milks that aren’t organic will be from Fonterra. It doesn’t matter if it arrives in a (totally pointless) light proof bottle, it is all essentially from the same cow, if you will. It was almost sour, not really in an off milk kind of way, just in a very acidic way. It was a lot thinner and there was a strange after taste. You could definitely ‘taste’ the milk.

Origin Earth


This lesser known brand was also organic, which gives it that more rounded taste. Origin Earth is Non-homogenised, which put simply, is a mechanical process that breaks up the cream globules. This evenly disperses the cream to give it a more smooth texture. This milk was noticeably a lot more yellow, it seemed heavier, which that could have been because we used the top half of the milk, so the cream would have risen to the top. It seemed to drown out a lot of the more acidic notes to the espresso, and left only chocolately roasty notes. It seemed less balanced, Rene noted there was “a lot going on” with this milk. Nice to drink on its own though, quite sweet, not so good for coffee however.

Buffalo Milk


Oooff. I don’t know what I was thinking. I thought I’d mix it up a little, maybe find some incredible new way to drink coffee. Buffalo mozzarella is so subtle and creamy, but I think there is a reason this milk is best left to cheese than very expensive lattes. When I first poured it out, it hadn’t been shaken so it came out lumpy, oh dear, this wasn’t a good start. It had that smell of the powdered milk you give to lambs, almost like lanolin. The taste was very acidic and well…cheesy. Even now, remembering it makes me dry retch a little. With the coffee, it was just awful. Remember this face from Rene, well his eyes nearly popped out of his head, and Robbie just let out a quiet “oh god”.

So there you have it. Never go near a buffalo milk latte, always drink organic milk, (even if you just want to stick it to The Man), go homogenised for a rounder flavour and join me and about 1 billion hindus to honour and adore the cow.

Maybe in the near future we’ll open up the discussion to dairy alternatives. There has been a lot of talk recently about hemp milk, oat milk and almond milk. Have you tried these in your coffee? What do you prefer?


October 29th, 2013


Posted In: Brewing, Coffee, Coffee geek out

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As I walked into the Laundry on a dark stormy day, it had that same warm comforting feel as t-shirts just out of the dryer. There is the fire going in the corner, lush red velvet curtains cascading from the ceilings and Don Wilfredo rocking the coffee machine. This is the sort of place you could get comfortable on a Sunday night. But this bar also seems to be some sort of shapeshifter. I’d been there the night before when the place was pumping and also on a sunny day drinking a shandy (shh don’t judge me) and each time it fit the bill. It’s an any time kind of place.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been there so often in the last week but it has this feeling like it’s always been there. Which is interesting when I talk to two out of the three part owners they admitted they were all pretty new to the hospitality industry. But it makes me wonder if this is why Laundry works so well. They opened the type of bar they all would go to themselves, and looking around me it seems it’s the sort of bar the rest of us would go to also.

The fit out is like your eccentric great aunty Virginia’s flat: who was big in the theatre world, never married and a perpetual horder. I guess this has something to do with the fact that Matt and Chung are perpetual hoarders themselves —  Flamingoes from Texas, an old wharf light from Matt’s basement, even an old wall from Matt’s old job at BNZ (eight years ago).

Out the back is caravan, fully kitted out with a commercial kitchen. There they are turning out tacos, toastie pies and a damn fine burger. Considering they’ve been taught under the tutelage of Mike from EKIM, you know damn well it’s going to be good. I also found out my favourite EKIM burger is named after this very Matt I’m talking to. Chuffed.

But what really makes this place wonderful is the staff. Which Matt cannot stress to me enough. Take Shane for instance, salt of the earth kind of guy. He moved down to Wellington from Gisborne after deciding on a career change from commercial fishing to being a chef. Matt and Shane had a chance meeting at Duke Carvell’s, where Shane was looking for work experience and Matt was asking if they knew of anyone looking for a job. Shane was willing to work for free, but Matt gave him a job instead. “He’s the hardest working person I know”. Talking to Shane, he quips “a lot of people say being a chef is hard, but this is nothing, you should try working in commercial fishing”, I don’t ask why, but I’d say the fact he only has four fingers on his right hand has something to do with it. As for the other staff, they were chosen from over 200 CVs, that was only from having a sign in the window, Matt interviewed 70 of them, and now it is clear he’s found the cream of the crop. They’ll ask you what you’re drinking, make a great latte and won’t judge you when you order a Shandy. See you down at the Laundry soon for some good clean fun!

Laundry on Cuba
240 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington, New Zealand 6011
04-384 4280
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October 16th, 2013


Posted In: Beer, Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Uncategorized

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In the last year there has been a bit of talk about the cost of coffee in the Capital and the naive assumption that because of the falling bean prices, our long black prices should be falling with it. It’s a touchy subject I suppose, us Wellingtonians we know a lot about coffee. But how much do we really know about the commodity market that green beans are traded on and what determines the price of a pound? It is a bit like feeling you can discuss the intricacies of American Politics just because you watched the first season of The West Wing. I asked Rene to shed a bit of light on the cost of green beans and how that translates to the cost of our coffee – Beth.

 

Over the last four years green coffee has gone through some huge price changes. At one stage it seemed like the market finally realised it needed to pay more for coffee, but now with most of the 2013 harvest sold, the market has returned to low 2009 prices.

Like all international commodities, coffee prices are set via trading on a stock market: supply and demand, and stock speculation of coffee, amongst other factors, are responsible for fluctuating prices. 2009 prices were around $US1.30 per pound but rose fast through 2011 to around $US3 per pound.

There was a lot of discussion among people in the coffee industry about the sustainability of coffee. Specifically we were talking about how much farmers are paid, and around the wider issues which affect price, but which the farmer has no control over — like global warming. There was a feeling with some regarding the rising price, that the market was finally maturing to acknowledge and meet the tough realities of production.

 

None of us want to pay more for stuff, right? But many of us in the industry believe it’s hugely important for quality coffee to continue to be produced. This means the price of green coffee needs to increase and the work of coffee producers needs to be better rewarded.

During times of high prices, roasteries are challenged to tighten their belts and smarten up, or source poor quality coffee at cheaper rates.

As I said before, over the last 2 years the price has fallen back to 2009 prices of around $US1.13. The International Coffee Organization states this price is actually below the cost of production.

We’re talking about farmers who have very little to spend on living. They often grow their own food and live in low cost accommodation — a wooden shack with dirt floor.

For farms with good trees growing already, farmers may not have to spend much actual cash through the year, payment for transportation and pickers at harvest time might actually make up a significant part of the cash payments.

This triggers a decision for coffee buyers: make more money sourcing coffee at basement prices or recognise the market is mad and not follow it to its extreme lows.

Peoples Coffee buys certified fair trade organic coffee. This has a minimum price of $US1.65 per pound. This minimum ensures we cover costs of production for coffee growers. However, Peoples has always paid more, an average of around 50% more per pound, with some coffees going for well over twice the minimum price per pound. This way we ensure decent quality coffee at a price that the co-op is happy with, helping to ensure we can buy the same coffee coffee again in years to come.

The challenge for green bean buyers is to keep up with the market changes, but also ensure growers’ wellbeing is taken into account with the price payed. Sometimes this means accepting less profit.

When visiting growers, we always have a good discussion about prices and the cost of production. We hoped the higher prices during 2010–11 signaled a sea change in the industry, not a price spike which would create more insecurity in the market for producers.

But sadly it seems like the mad international commodity pricing mechanism wins out again.

Each year there are developments in the industry which continue to capture my interest – micro lots becoming more available, environmental issues having negative impacts on quality, computer monitored roasting and new brewing methods. But the pricing of green beans has always had a curious disconnect from reality. We should be trying to think of a way roasters, like myself, can have more ownership over the trade relationship we have with growers.

Interestingly Trade Aid Importers have recently started a new “sustainability fund”. We now have an opportunity with specific co-ops, to pay extra with each trade on top of the standard market price Trade Aid set. This is quite a revolutionary idea and one we are very keen to get behind. It’s a bold step by Trade Aid and allows the roaster to better support producers as they see fit.

For Peoples Coffee this is very inspiring and another initiative from Trade Aid Importers’ long list of innovative funding programs. Respect!

So while the green bean price is falling, we forget who is out of pocket. It has enormous repercussions for the farmers. Is that really worth the 20c saving you would make on your cup of coffee?

What do you think? Should the price of a long black be falling and following suit with the green bean prices?

René


October 1st, 2013


Posted In: Coffee, Fair trade, Sustainability, Sustainable

2 Comments

 

All the talk last time of Wooden Spoon’s Ca Phe Da ice cream got me thinking about Vietnamese coffee and how much I have an unbridled love for it. Vietnamese coffee definitely isn’t an everyday drink, and in a way, it isn’t really even a drink. After you’ve stirred in the centimeter thick condensed milk layer it turns into a thick syrupy dessert. However, there is a reason they add so much condensed milk in the first place. In Vietnam they use Robusta beans, which needs to be roasted super dark to get any sort of flavour out of it, flavours closer to burnt chocolate (and burnt tyres) than the stone fruits and caramels we are used to here in Wellington. So after talking it through with the Peoples Coffee clan, we decided to have an experiment day at Roastery HQ. Could we come up with a homage to Vietnamese Coffee, made with higher quality coffee?

Rene went with the Don Wilfredo blend for all of the brewing techniques, as it was his most robust roast, hoping it would stand up against the sweetness of the condensed milk, well that was the theory anyway. We went with a Swiss Gold Filter first, the closest thing we could find to the “Phin” (the little Vietnamese brewer that sits on top of the glass). I think Rene’s face sums it up.

It was like witnessing your grandmammy in a wrestling match with The Rock, there was no way any of that those subtle coffee flavours were ever going to stand a chance, it was SO sweet, just big ol’ condensed milk barging in there and pulling out the “peoples elbow” on your helpless soft brew.

So we clearly needed something that could punch back, Morgan made an enormous plunger almost a third full of coffee grinds – typical of what you’d see in boardrooms across the country. Still nothing and the clan were getting bored.

So we ditched the soft brew completely and went espresso, this is where it started to get good. That strong, bitter espresso could finally hold it’s own, but we needed a knock out. Rene declares it needed four shots instead of two, all in the name of science of course. And man it was good, lip smackingly bitter and that syrupy sweetness I love about Vietnamese coffee.

Suddenly Rene went rogue and added a fourth layer: steamed milk. “It will never work”, “you’re crazy” we all exclaimed, but my god, this was the best by far. I thought the extra milk would make it too creamy, but it mellowed it out but kept all those huge punchy flavours and made it so much more drinkable.

So there we have it, our Peoples Ca Phe (or should we call it the Peoples Elbow!). With four shots of coffee and four times your daily sugar intake it probably isn’t something you could have everyday, but my god it would get you going in the morning. What do you reckon? Sound good? Would you try it?


September 18th, 2013


Posted In: Brewing, Coffee, Coffee geek out

One Comment

There is something pretty awesome going on in Wellington. It’s something you won’t really notice until it’s pointed out to you. But once it has, you’ll see it everywhere. No, it’s not leggings as pants, but the community and collaboration going on with some of Wellington’s amazing foodie producers. It’s basically like a giant house party, with everyone mingling and hooking up and those of us not invited are on the outside looking wistfully through the windows (weirdos).

So in this post I thought I’d point out a few of the great producers that have either collaborated, been involved with or using Peoples Coffee in their products. Warning: This post is going to give you some mega cravings.

Garage Project

These guys are the kings of collaboration. They’ve worked with Escarpment wines, Whittaker’s Chocolate and even the Royal NZ Ballet (I’m assuming they didn’t use old ballet shoes in the brewing process) and Peoples Coffee were there right from the start. They were part of not one, but TWO, of Garage Project’s epic launch of 24 beers in 24 weeks (mental). Peoples Project #1 was a smooth dark roast coffee bockbier, safe enough. However, Peoples Project #2 was probably Garage Project’s most polorising brew to date (not most controversial though) – A strong spicy golden Saison, infused with green unroasted coffee beans for their pungent earthy aroma, people loved it or hated it with a passion. Brewer Pete described this beer as “our finest hour or our greatest failure”.

Milk Crate/August

Baking genius and willy wonka-esk chocolatier Agnes Almeida is a feeder of the best kind. I’ve often sat down at Milk Crate and been “forced’ to try her latest baking creation. Donuts with a chocolate glaze and potato chips on them? What?! Sounds crazy, but tastes crazy good in my mouth. And while Willy Wonka had his everlasting gobstoppers, Agnes has her “Everything Bar” and really…it is exactly that. Everything and anything – Does she want to put pretzels, potato chips, freeze dried blueberries and ground peoples coffee in it? Yup. Is it the most amazing thing you will put in your mouth. Yup. I hear Agnes is leaving soon so get in quick with this incredible chocolate bar (watch out for Slugworth).

Wooden Spoon

Food subscriptions, why are these not more of a thing. I like eating, so having food turn up on my doorstep when I’ve completely forgotten about it is pretty much like Christmas every month. Now, when that monthly package is ice cream, then suddenly it is like those Christmases as a child when you actually couldn’t sleep with the excitement. Wooden Spoon is boutique freezery that delivers ice cream to your door and my absolute favourite flavour is their Peoples Coffee Cà phê đá. They’ve taken Don Wilfredo espresso and added sweetened condensed milk, it’s their take on vietnamese iced coffee. This insanely smooth ice cream has a huge coffee kick and, speaking from experience, it’s best not to eat it just before bed (read: ice cream for breakfast is totally allowed).

Dough Momma

A bit smaller scale to Wooden Spoon, Dough Momma is all about the pie, the sweet American kind. An all American gal herself, Brandie missed a few of those home comforts so started baking for friends, but someone that bakes you pie will make friends far too easily, so she went into business. For $20 for a family serve or $7 for a (American size) single serve, Brandie will deliver pie to your door (or work place) every friday. But maybe Brandie isn’t so “all American” anymore, because you have to try her “Flat White pie”. Flaky pastry filled with Peoples Coffee-infused sweet milk custard.

Six Barrel Soda

Six Barrel Soda have been using Peoples since the start in their cafe, mostly notably for their bottomless filter coffee. My favourite is their Coffee & Kola drink ($6.50), kola nut soda with a shot of Don Wilfredo (that guy gets around) for a super summer’s day coffee hit. But now in some sort of food inception, we are going to take this collaboration one level deeper. The UBER collaboration, if you will. The very limited edition: Ca Phe Da Kola Float ($6.50), kola nut soda with a scoop of Wooden Spoon Ca Phe Da ice cream, then if we want to go further down the rabbit hole, they’ll add a shot of Peoples espresso. Amazing.

So there we have it, Wellington’s food party and we are all invited to. Have I missed any out? Or are there any collaborations you’d like to see?

 


September 3rd, 2013


Posted In: Beer, Coffee, Coffee geek out, Collaboration

Leave a Comment

There is something pretty awesome going on in Wellington. It’s something you won’t really notice until it’s pointed out to you. But once it has, you’ll see it everywhere. No, it’s not leggings as pants, but the community and collaboration going on with some of Wellington’s amazing foodie producers. It’s basically like a giant house party, with everyone mingling and hooking up and those of us not invited are on the outside looking wistfully through the windows (weirdos).

So in this post I thought I’d point out a few of the great producers that have either collaborated, been involved with or using Peoples Coffee in their products. Warning: This post is going to give you some mega cravings.

Garage Project

These guys are the kings of collaboration. They’ve worked with Escarpment wines, Whittaker’s Chocolate and even the Royal NZ Ballet (I’m assuming they didn’t use old ballet shoes in the brewing process) and Peoples Coffee were there right from the start. They were part of not one, but TWO, of Garage Project’s epic launch of 24 beers in 24 weeks (mental). Peoples Project #1 was a smooth dark roast coffee bockbier, safe enough. However, Peoples Project #2 was probably Garage Project’s most polorising brew to date (not most controversial though) – A strong spicy golden Saison, infused with green unroasted coffee beans for their pungent earthy aroma, people loved it or hated it with a passion. Brewer Pete described this beer as “our finest hour or our greatest failure”.

Milk Crate/August

Baking genius and willy wonka-esk chocolatier Agnes Almeida is a feeder of the best kind. I’ve often sat down at Milk Crate and been “forced’ to try her latest baking creation. Donuts with a chocolate glaze and potato chips on them? What?! Sounds crazy, but tastes crazy good in my mouth. And while Willy Wonka had his everlasting gobstoppers, Agnes has her “Everything Bar” and really…it is exactly that. Everything and anything – Does she want to put pretzels, potato chips, freeze dried blueberries and ground peoples coffee in it? Yup. Is it the most amazing thing you will put in your mouth. Yup. I hear Agnes is leaving soon so get in quick with this incredible chocolate bar (watch out for Slugworth).

Wooden Spoon

Food subscriptions, why are these not more of a thing. I like eating, so having food turn up on my doorstep when I’ve completely forgotten about it is pretty much like Christmas every month. Now, when that monthly package is ice cream, then suddenly it is like those Christmases as a child when you actually couldn’t sleep with the excitement. Wooden Spoon is boutique freezery that delivers ice cream to your door and my absolute favourite flavour is their Peoples Coffee Cà phê đá. They’ve taken Don Wilfredo espresso and added sweetened condensed milk, it’s their take on vietnamese iced coffee. This insanely smooth ice cream has a huge coffee kick and, speaking from experience, it’s best not to eat it just before bed (read: ice cream for breakfast is totally allowed).

Dough Momma

A bit smaller scale to Wooden Spoon, Dough Momma is all about the pie, the sweet American kind. An all American gal herself, Brandie missed a few of those home comforts so started baking for friends, but someone that bakes you pie will make friends far too easily, so she went into business. For $20 for a family serve or $7 for a (American size) single serve, Brandie will deliver pie to your door (or work place) every friday. But maybe Brandie isn’t so “all American” anymore, because you have to try her “Flat White pie”. Flaky pastry filled with Peoples Coffee-infused sweet milk custard.

Six Barrel Soda

Six Barrel Soda have been using Peoples since the start in their cafe, mostly notably for their bottomless filter coffee. My favourite is their Coffee & Kola drink ($6.50), kola nut soda with a shot of Don Wilfredo (that guy gets around) for a super summer’s day coffee hit. But now in some sort of food inception, we are going to take this collaboration one level deeper. The UBER collaboration, if you will. The very limited edition: Ca Phe Da Kola Float ($6.50), kola nut soda with a scoop of Wooden Spoon Ca Phe Da ice cream, then if we want to go further down the rabbit hole, they’ll add a shot of Peoples espresso. Amazing.

So there we have it, Wellington’s food party and we are all invited to. Have I missed any out? Or are there any collaborations you’d like to see?

 


September 3rd, 2013


Posted In: Beer, Coffee, Coffee geek out, Collaboration

One Comment

There is something pretty awesome going on in Wellington. It’s something you won’t really notice until it’s pointed out to you. But once it has, you’ll see it everywhere. No, it’s not leggings as pants, but the community and collaboration going on with some of Wellington’s amazing foodie producers. It’s basically like a giant house party, with everyone mingling and hooking up and those of us not invited are on the outside looking wistfully through the windows (weirdos).

So in this post I thought I’d point out a few of the great producers that have either collaborated, been involved with or using Peoples Coffee in their products. Warning: This post is going to give you some mega cravings.

Garage Project

These guys are the kings of collaboration. They’ve worked with Escarpment wines, Whittaker’s Chocolate and even the Royal NZ Ballet (I’m assuming they didn’t use old ballet shoes in the brewing process) and Peoples Coffee were there right from the start. They were part of not one, but TWO, of Garage Project’s epic launch of 24 beers in 24 weeks (mental). Peoples Project #1 was a smooth dark roast coffee bockbier, safe enough. However, Peoples Project #2 was probably Garage Project’s most polorising brew to date (not most controversial though) – A strong spicy golden Saison, infused with green unroasted coffee beans for their pungent earthy aroma, people loved it or hated it with a passion. Brewer Pete described this beer as “our finest hour or our greatest failure”.

Milk Crate/August

Baking genius and willy wonka-esk chocolatier Agnes Almeida is a feeder of the best kind. I’ve often sat down at Milk Crate and been “forced’ to try her latest baking creation. Donuts with a chocolate glaze and potato chips on them? What?! Sounds crazy, but tastes crazy good in my mouth. And while Willy Wonka had his everlasting gobstoppers, Agnes has her “Everything Bar” and really…it is exactly that. Everything and anything – Does she want to put pretzels, potato chips, freeze dried blueberries and ground peoples coffee in it? Yup. Is it the most amazing thing you will put in your mouth. Yup. I hear Agnes is leaving soon so get in quick with this incredible chocolate bar (watch out for Slugworth).

Wooden Spoon

Food subscriptions, why are these not more of a thing. I like eating, so having food turn up on my doorstep when I’ve completely forgotten about it is pretty much like Christmas every month. Now, when that monthly package is ice cream, then suddenly it is like those Christmases as a child when you actually couldn’t sleep with the excitement. Wooden Spoon is boutique freezery that delivers ice cream to your door and my absolute favourite flavour is their Peoples Coffee Cà phê đá. They’ve taken Don Wilfredo espresso and added sweetened condensed milk, it’s their take on vietnamese iced coffee. This insanely smooth ice cream has a huge coffee kick and, speaking from experience, it’s best not to eat it just before bed (read: ice cream for breakfast is totally allowed).

Dough Momma

A bit smaller scale to Wooden Spoon, Dough Momma is all about the pie, the sweet American kind. An all American gal herself, Brandie missed a few of those home comforts so started baking for friends, but someone that bakes you pie will make friends far too easily, so she went into business. For $20 for a family serve or $7 for a (American size) single serve, Brandie will deliver pie to your door (or work place) every friday. But maybe Brandie isn’t so “all American” anymore, because you have to try her “Flat White pie”. Flaky pastry filled with Peoples Coffee-infused sweet milk custard.

Six Barrel Soda

Six Barrel Soda have been using Peoples since the start in their cafe, mostly notably for their bottomless filter coffee. My favourite is their Coffee & Kola drink ($6.50), kola nut soda with a shot of Don Wilfredo (that guy gets around) for a super summer’s day coffee hit. But now in some sort of food inception, we are going to take this collaboration one level deeper. The UBER collaboration, if you will. The very limited edition: Ca Phe Da Kola Float ($6.50), kola nut soda with a scoop of Wooden Spoon Ca Phe Da ice cream, then if we want to go further down the rabbit hole, they’ll add a shot of Peoples espresso. Amazing.

So there we have it, Wellington’s food party and we are all invited to. Have I missed any out? Or are there any collaborations you’d like to see?

 


September 3rd, 2013


Posted In: Beer, Coffee, Coffee geek out, Collaboration

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Allo, I’m Henry, the barista down at Peoples Coffee Constable Street. Getting paid to drink coffee and banter with entertaining Newtown clientele isn’t easy, but someone has to do it.

For me, coffee is in two parts – espresso and filter. And like my hypothetical children, they are equally loveable and I couldn’t choose a favourite. But if I was forced… it would probably be filter.

Like many great things filter coffee is underrated. Understandably when picturing that black old watery jug left about in American diners. It is not an appealing fantasy. But here in NZ, coffee drinkers go to espresso for power, flavour and strength. With good reason, filter coffee can be made very well but it won’t match espresso for oomph factor.

Filter coffee is a coarser ground coffee, it’s brewed in water for a longer duration than espresso and without the pressure. Filter is a more delicate drink, some would say more sophisticated. I wouldn’t necessarily, it’s not really worth comparing them with each other – less hate, more love. Analogous with alcohol – espresso is like a straight spirit and filter is like wine. Both serve excellent (yet different) purposes as far as I am concerned.

So these are some of the reasons I enjoy filter coffee:

Longevity

Coffee from the espresso machine is best enjoyed quickly, whereas filter tastes better as it cools. Sweetness and subtle flavour notes reveal themselves more as the temperature drops. If I’m in a hurry it’s espresso time, but if I’m looking to relax filter is the ticket. When espresso loves you and leaves you, filter offers you pillow talk.

Strength

As well as being built to last, filter coffee is stronger. Using equal amounts of coffee, a filter coffee has more caffeine than espresso. This is from a longer brewing time, usually at least two minutes longer. It ain’t over in 30 seconds like your espresso.

Shareability

When you drink enough filter coffee you can make up words like shareability. You can get a brew for two, or make it a threeway. A Chemex even has enough for more to have a go so everyone is welcome to the party. Again, like wine, it is more fun to share.

Finally I will conclude with this modicum of advice. If your filter coffee takes quite a while to prepare, never see it as an inconvenience, it’s your barista craftily building the suspense and anticipation. Whatever job or important thing you should be doing can surely wait. Our filter coffees can be made relatively quickly and can be taken away, but the world is already rushed enough. Pleasure can be found in filter coffee if careful time is taken to brew it and enjoy it.


July 24th, 2013


Posted In: Brewing, Coffee, Coffee geek out, Constable Street

3 Comments

Opening just a week ago, The Preservatorium looks shiny and new, but like Grandma’s Piccadilli Pickle, it has been slowly maturing over the last few years. The owner Pete Thompson, a builder himself, has been working on the space now for about two years and his hard work really shows. The interior is spacious, well designed and there is an element of playfulness that I love – hard wood trestle tables, shelving adorned with wooden trucks and brightly coloured chairs make The Preservatorium looks like an upsized pre-school! I felt an innate urge to play with crayons and snips while waiting for my coffee. It is situated on the corner of Torrens and Webb street, it is sure to be an oasis in what was, up until now, a bit of a caffeine wasteland.

 

The Preservatorium also specialise in…go on, two guesses…yup that’s right – preserves. Jars of their latest concoctions line the walls in a rather spectacular rainbow and judging from the beetroot and mint relish they are serving on the day I visit, they are all pretty special. Pete tells me he wants the food to be inexpensive but not cheap, with a lot of students working and living close by I’m sure they’ll be pleased to hear that. The cabinet is packed out with brightly coloured sandwiches and salads for all under a $10er and meals off the menu under $15. The portions are generous and healthy and all meals are, of course, served with their homemade pickles, relishes or jams. The preserves theme is extended to the décor with beautiful Agee jar lamps hanging over the counter and housing the cutlery on the tables.

But what is really special about The Preservatorium is along the back wall, in a Narnia like reveal, the doors open into an impressive function centre. The auditorium can fit up to 150 people and they have smaller meeting and seminar rooms as well for hiring. No instant coffee at their conferences and you know that the catering is going to be good too. They are also hoping to do a few pop up events in the future – such as hosting whiskey tastings in the evenings.

The Preservatorium is injecting some well needed caffeine and community into a rather forgotten part of Wellington. Pete and his staff are all friendly and helpful and serve a damn good flat white. Gold stars all round!

 

The Preservatorium Cafe & Cannery
39 Webb St, Te Aro, Wellington
021 224 9404

Open 07:00 – 15:00 Monday – Friday

 


July 10th, 2013


Posted In: Cafes, Coffee

6 Comments

Blends have a long tradition in espresso history. They are generally created to build a balanced, pleasing flavour by combining different origins with certain characteristics. A traditional espresso blend may have low acidity and be full-bodied with a dark chocolate bitter sweet flavour.

Often a blend will have one main origin as the base. Beans from Brazil are common base blenders and might make up 40 percent of the blend. Then other origins are added to develop flavours, mouthfeel, and add highlights and complexity.

Blends are the bread and butter income for most roasteries — most of their business is from wholesaling to cafés. The blend plays a powerful role in this chain: it dictates the profitability of the roaster and café.

The price of a cup of coffee is often a hot subject, but the actual cost of your flat white has changed very little over the years. Whereas the price of green coffee has gone up and down due to many factors which I won’t mention here. To some degree the average price for a cup of coffee in Wellington dictates the maximum I can pay for a sack of green beans. Individual costs and ratio of profitability work their way back through the supply chain. Wholesaled blends in Wellington vary in price hugely, with blends offered by some roasters being almost half the price of others. This means there are different levels of quality available and different ratios of profit from the farmer, down through the chain to the customer.

Peoples Coffee has grown up with some basic principles which guide our decision making process. For example, we want to buy great coffee in a way which has a positive impact through added value at each step. After 5 years of visiting farmers, I have rarely heard a farmer say they hope their children will continue farming coffee. We offer terms of trade to our producers in the hope this will create a healthy life for them and that they would want their children to continue farming coffee.

Since the start of Peoples Coffee we have been 100 percent organic. For us this is about sustainability. When we travel to coffee producing origins, we see that chemical use often has a very negative impact on the people and environment. By buying only organic coffee, we support quality and sustainability and this leads to better quality and sustainability for the future. This may limit the coffee I can buy, but if we want to see change, sometimes we have to make it. Hoping coffee will become more sustainable — but buying something else until the perfect coffee is available —isn’t going to change the sustainability of coffee very effectively.

I choose not to buy Robusta or Brazil beans, cheap coffees, because they supply little more to a blend other than profitability. Brazil is the biggest producer of coffee globally. It is mainly machine-harvested, commodity grade, non-organic, and comes from large farms operating at an industrial level. These are things I don’t find very appealing in coffee. So I choose to buy from other countries because of the interesting stories involved in sourcing it and the people and communities who have been affected by the troubled history of coffee.

In 2009 I visited the co-op Guaya’b in Guatemala. With the Manager, Lucas Garcia, we visited farmers during the harvest process and talked about the specifics of production. We also went to the warehouse, and the half built drying patios, and learnt about the social projects they are running. After seeing this, and knowing their coffee, I felt the co-op fit with the Peoples objectives and chose to blend Guaya’b’s coffee into the Don Wilfredo blend. Since then we have continued selling plenty of Don Wilfredo which makes a further difference to Guaya’b, and many other co-op’s like them. When I visited them again in 2013 and was able to see the development in their production with the completion of the patio, which has led to better quality and profitability for the co-op and the coffee itself. I feel proud that Peoples Coffee was part of that story.

This is how I like to build my blends — from the knowledge of the co-op after years of tasting their coffee, visiting them to meet and understand who they are, seeing what problems they currently face and how they hope to achieve their goals. I know by carefully choosing coffees from certain co-ops to blend, I can build a beautiful blend and each cup of coffee we sell goes towards developing the lives of the producers. Many of these developments are simple things like processing machines and technical staff. But also holistically, with the goal of enabling them to be in charge of their own destiny, just like we all should be.

So a blend can be more than just a balance of flavours, it can be a bridge between people who are like minded in their attitudes towards people, coffee and business.


June 26th, 2013


Posted In: Coffee, Cooperatives, Fair trade, Sustainability, Sustainable, Trips, Uncategorized

3 Comments

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