The south has long been home to a vibrant café culture. But it wasn’t until Kelly Taylor opened ROAR Coffee Roasters that we finally had our own Southland brew.
Today, cafés up and down the province can serve the freshest-possible delicious coffee. And it’s all thanks to ROAR’S unique blend of beans and service.
I caught up with Kelly and Steve to discover more about Lumsden’s latest local brand.
Can Lumsden Be Our Forever Home?
When Kelly and Steve Taylor first moved south they weren’t sure how long they’d stay. Moving from busy, bustling Matakana to rural Lumsden was a bit of a culture shock. Sure they wanted a lifestyle change, but what would they do “Down South?”
Steve set up ‘Temple Tattoo’ in the front rooms of their old Masonic Lodge home. His artistic reputation soon spread throughout the tattoo community. Meanwhile, Kelly learned the ropes of the Southland food scene.
All that time Kelly had a dream to produce great coffee and five years later she was more than ready to start.
“Go on, do your thing,” said Steve. So she did.
Studying The Nitty Gritty Of Coffee
It’s not enough to love coffee. Plenty of science and art goes into creating a good blend. So Kelly went back to school. Not to uni, this time, but to the cafés of Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland.
The more she learned, the more she fell in love with everything about the remarkable coffee bean.
“I rang Steve one day from Wellington and said ‘We’ve got to do this.’ ”
Developing The Perfect ROAR Coffee Blend
Kelly had plenty to consider when it came to making the perfect ROAR coffee taste.
It turns out that coffee beans are a bit like fine wine. Their flavour depends very much on where and how they’re grown and processed as well as the way they’re roasted.
So Kelly and Steve spent the first few months experimenting with flavour combinations.
“I had a little sample roaster that I’d crank up every day and we got bean samples from all over the place.”
They were very aware that Southlanders tend to like a big, strong, no-fuss coffee. So they needed to create a coffee that was beautiful as a long black but could also carry a lot of milk. We Southlanders love our Flat Whites as well.
All that work and finally ROAR was born. A beautiful blend of Colombian and Guatemalan beans, perfect for Southland.
Sourcing Sustainable Coffee Beans – It’s All About The Relationships
How do you buy beans when they have to come from the other side of the world? I wondered. Well, that’s where the Bean Broker comes in.
“The beans have to come from Colombia, Guatemala around the equator,” because that’s where the coffee green belt is. So I use a couple of bean brokers who have been in the industry for a long time.
The main man I deal with is 2nd generation as a bean importer. He learned the coffee trade from his Dad.”
Building good rapport is always the key to a great business. So, Kelly especially appreciates her connection with these brokers and their farmers.
Freshness Is Key To Great Coffee
Once you’ve got the coffee flavour sorted, there’s another key component. How fresh are your roasted beans?
“We’re roasting several times every week,” says Kelly. “We do the amount that we need to distribute, so no-one’s getting months-old beans.
That makes a huge difference to the flavour and here’s why.
When you roast a coffee bean up to 1500 different chemical reactions explode inside it. So you can imagine the energy that creates.
So if you grind them immediately and make a cuppa you can see the coffee’s alive. It’s frothy, the crema is super thick and it’s chockablock full of CO2. In other words, your coffee is a little too fresh.
So Kelly has learned to rest the beans for 24 hours to give them time to degas.
Coffee doesn’t go bad if it sits around, but the oils that start to come out of the coffee can change over time. That affects their flavour, but the main problem with stale coffee is the way it loses energy. Over time it becomes drab and flat compared to a fresh brew.
Having said that, the Guatemalan bean ROAR uses does age well. After 7 – 10 days the sweetness starts to come through. “However,” Kelly says “if you’re buying a coffee that’s sat around for 3 months then it’s just not going to be the same.”
So That’s Why Local Is Best
There’s beauty in having a coffee roaster on your provincial doorstep.
Southland customers get the freshest ROAR beans whenever they need them.
Most of them order weekly. And because Kelly is processing the coffee in small batches, it’s very consistent.
I wondered if that was hard to do, but Kelly says not at all.
“Once you’ve nailed your formula it’s a bit like baking a cake. So long as you’ve got everything doing what it should you’ll get a beautiful cake – or coffee – every time.”
But ROAR Is More Than Coffee Roasting
There’s so much more to ROAR than roasting great coffee beans.
- Servicing coffee machines
- Training cafe staff
Kelly and Steve do it all with a smile.
Everything We Wished For
It’s pretty cool to have a little coffee roastery in your front porch. The aroma as you walk into Kelly’s domain sends you to coffee heaven.
So, will Kelly and Steve keep on supplying Southland with its freshest local brand?
“When we moved down here at first we felt like we weren’t busy enough. But then one of the reasons we moved down here was to live a different life.
And now? Well, you’ve just got to be careful what you wish for, don’t you.”
ROAR coffee lovers rejoice. I think that’s a YES!
Contact ROAR — and more
The ROAR website is currently having a re-vamp. Meanwhile, you can contact their Facebook page here.
Coffee and Cappuccino image is by Nathan Dumlao https://unsplash.com/photos/XOhI_kW_TaM