For anyone who has ever walked into a specialty coffee store and felt out of their depth, coffee roaster Dark Horse has got your back.
Co-Founded by husband-and-wife duo, Matthew Payne and Rachael Deller-Pincott, the brand’s newest addition is a specialty espresso bar that is focused on inclusivity and openness.
As a pure takeaway coffee bar, the Egmont Street Espresso Bar is Dark Horses’ official flagship store in Wellington and third venture as a brand.
“The best part has been creating a direct connection to our customers in the city, and for them to be able to grab their beans right off the shelf,” says Matthew.
The Egmont Street Espresso Bar features a variety of single origins and Dark Horse blends with names inspired from horses.
“Our most popular blend is The Colt, which is also our house roast. It is a big dark, full bodied chocolatey roast,” says Matthew. “When I started making coffee in 1995 there was really only dark roasts, and I really enjoyed that profile, but with our Colt blend it has enough class and sweetness and desired acidity to make it a complex, darker style coffee.”
Matthew says that his style of service, however, isn’t fact and figure based.
“I just ask people ‘what do you like?’ and then try and make and match the coffee to it. If someone likes the coffee then they’ll come up and ask [for more details], and then we tell them,” says Matthew. “Dark Horse isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re trying to refine the flavours and the experience because I think hospitality can get lost with coffee makers sometimes. People can get so focused on the coffee that they forget that is comes down to the human connection.”
With the ongoing pandemic, Matthew points out how connections like these have become even more important with this customer and barista interaction sometimes being the only conversation a person will have all day.
“I take my job seriously, but I don’t take everything else too seriously. [Going to a café] is supposed to be fun and social, as opposed to walking in somewhere and feeling silly because you don’t know the origin [of the coffee],” says Matthew.
It’s not just the coffee Dark Horse takes seriously. Sustainability has been a pillar for the roasting company since day one with the company investing in a Loring hot air roaster in 2018.
“Now we also have fully compostable lids and cups, and are spending a lot of time and energy sourcing sustainable packaging. We’re also in the process of swapping our wholesale bags to recyclable paper bags,” Matthew says.
“Our ‘leave less hoof prints’ ethos allows us to always be striving towards better practices as our business grows and evolves.”
Matthew is also aware that COVID-19 has not just changed the importance of social interactions, but how consumers shop.
“We are revamping our online sales, and have a subscription service which means consumers don’t have to think about it anymore,” he says.
“Our ‘Dark Horse To Your Door’ subscription service is really taking off, because so many people are making coffee at home and we want to be able to provide all our consumers with the Dark Horse experience, even from home.”
26 Egmont St,
Wellington City, New Zealand, 6011
Open Monday to Friday 6:30am – 2pm, Saturday 8am – 2pm
This article appears in the OCTOBER 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.