There have been very few occasions I’ve visited Newtown, a suburb not far from Wellington’s CBD, known for its hipster vibe and quirky nature.
In fact, the last time was in February when the community hosted their annual street festival.
But my excuses stopped there when a week ago I routinely took to the internet in search of a coffee shop to satisfy my fix, seeking someplace with character and charm that posed more than slick interior and fancy aprons.
Peoples Coffee fit the bill: Arriving early for my chat with Jesse, the head of marketing at the Constable Street Roastery, I sat observing the comers and goers, each lingering to talk with the staff after receiving their cup of choice.
When Jesse arrived we both grabbed and coffee and I proceeded with my questions…
Our staff are amazing, we’re really lucky because this is our flagship café as a roaster, everyone who works here is very very passionate about not just making great coffee, but the ideas behind our company.
There is something special about it being just outside, [of the city] it’s a suburb, everyone pops down in the morning on Saturday and you don’t quite get that same community vibe.
Our flagship blend is the Don Wilfredo from Columbia, Peru and Congo. You have two different types of coffees; there’s blends and single origins, so as the name suggests a single origin is from one place. They’re more for filter [coffee] because they’re very subtle flavours where as a blend has got three different flavours so you can craft exactly the sort of flavour that you want.
Some origins will be chocolaty, some will be fruity, some will have more acidity, some will have more sweetness and you can blend them together in different ratios.
Don Wilfredo is super flavoursome, chocolaty and is very easy to work with. As a roasterer we’re supplying a whole range of cafés and we want something that’s going to be really consistent across all of them.
Matt Lamason (the brains behind the business) went overseas to take a look at the coffee origin and saw the conditions of the working people there and he thought he could really do something to help.
He came back and set up a Fairtrade coffee roastery and it’s sort of grown really organically. We started off as Fairtrade, we’re now World Fairtrade which is a hugely encompassing certification and not only certifies our product range but also our whole company and our everyday dealings.
We encourage people not to get a take away coffee, we’re really stoked because now our cups, including the lids are 100% compostable. For a long time you couldn’t get compostable lids, so now you can literally chuck your cup in your compost in the back of your garden, the same as the bags. But ideally we want people to buy a keep cup.
Our World Fairtrade certification is really involved. We’re the only company in New Zealand to have it other than Trade Aid, so to have our entire supply chain and all of our products certified is awesome for us. It shows that we’re doing all the right things for all the right reasons and we’re not just slapping a sticker on the product.
As well as their heavy involvement in Fairtrade and desire to close the gap between everyday business and their source of coffee beans, the staff have come together to create The Arohata Project offering female inmates at the prison Barista training.
The Arohata Project is really close to our hearts; it took a long time for that to come into operation. It’s amazing, women respond so well to it, to be able to give them something to take away, take out into the world hopefully inspire them to keep at it and develop the skills, it’s a difficult realm to work in, but it’s really exciting.
We do lots of cool things, we did a ‘buy coffee, get change’ day. For every coffee you buy you get a 50c coin, you choose to either keep that or put it into a jar towards the next generation coffee fund. This helps farmer’s future proof their farms and also encourages more youngsters to get into the coffee trade and come back to those farms, empowering all their knowledge they’ve learned at university back into their community.
We do nitro events here all the time, it’s nitrogenated cold coffee and it’s real really similar to a Guinness in the way it’s poured. I think we were the first ones to do it in New Zealand, it’s just another cool way to experience coffee. It brings out very different flavours when it’s cold. It’s black coffee and the nitro bubbles create that creaminess you get with a Guinness, but there’s no milk and its got a sweetness as well.
If you’re out to find somewhere that sells more than just good coffee, then you’ll appreciate a place like Peoples. A roaster that’ is more than meets the eye, creating a humble meeting spot for locals whilst following through with the nature and purpose of the business. Now every time I sip my flat white and sigh with pleasure from the taste of a delectable blend, I’ll think of the farmers who make this fine habit of mine an infinite one and hope that they too are working for a Fair Trade.
It doesn’t stop there, Peoples Coffee run their own blog, where you can keep up to date with their current ventures and future projects. And don’t forget to check out their cool two minute video, From Crop to Cup.