Kokako celebrates 15th birthday

New Zealand’s Kokako Organic Coffee will celebrate its 15th birthday on 15 April.

To thank its customers for being part of the 15-year journey, Kokako is hosting a birthday bash at its Grey Lynn roastery on Friday between 8am – 1pm.

Customers are invited to “drop by” and sample Kokako’s signature brews, enjoy a bite to eat, and go behind-the-scenes in the roastery to learn Kokako’s roasting secrets to 15 years of success.

“There have been so many amazing people that have played a part in the longevity of the Kokako brand. Thank you to family, friends, colleagues, associates, media, suppliers and to our customers for your support. And thanks to our competitors for keeping us on our toes and for creating a great New Zealand coffee culture,” said Kokako Managing Director Mike Murphy.

Inspired from their travels in Italy, Helen Ollivier and Christian Lamdin first founded Kokako in 2001, operating as a coffee cart at the Bayfield Primary School Gala before taking up residency at the Aotea Square Markets in Auckland.

Gradually, business grew, and so did Christian’s interest in roasting. Before long, Kokako had developed its first retailers and was serving and selling 100 per cent organic coffee.

In 2004 Helen and Christine opened the first Kokako café in Parnell, Auckland, complete with a vegetarian menu and a 10-kilogram Toper roaster named Ruby.

In 2007, Mike came onto the scene. He had been working in Melbourne and was inspired by the city’s café scene. “My plan was to come back to Auckland and start a café from scratch even though I had no coffee experience,” he said in a statement.

With some capital from selling a previous business, Mike began looking for an opportunity, and found it in Kokako.

“I walked in and thought: ‘This is great—this is exactly what I want to do’,” he said. “When I decided to buy Kokako in early 2007 I hadn’t considered just how all-consuming it would become. I’d been in hospitality since I was 17 but was new to coffee. There was a lot to learn and a lot to do – and a recession to get through.”

But he did. Mike immersed himself in his new craft, got involved in the New Zealand Specialty Coffee Association and started introducing himself to established industry members such as those from Coffee Supreme and Mojo Coffee. “I think they were quite intrigued that I had seen a coffee company for sale in the Herald and just gone and purchased it,” Mike said.

Mike was determined to take Kokako to the next level. At the end of 2007 Kokako’s roasting and catering services moved into a warehouse in Eden Terrace, while the cafe underwent renovation to embrace a more organic-focused, contemporary environment.

In 2009, Kokako coffee became certified as 100 per cent organic and Fairtrade. The little Parnell café was later sold and renamed Domain & Ayr, but still serves Kokako Organic Coffee.

“I have always been very conscious of continuing the good work of Kokako founders Helen and Christian by ensuring that the values of quality, sustainability and innovation were continually reinforced,” Mike said.

In January 2013, an old deco post office in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn, Auckland became Kokako Café’s flagship home. The building was transformed into a welcoming cafe space, the roastery moved just across the road, and a 25-kilogram Probat roaster was installed next to Ruby to meet demand.

Auckland’s coffee industry is thriving, and its because of such competition Mike says Kokako has endured 15 years of industry success.

“The key has been staying true to our values of quality, sustainability and a commitment to ethical procurement, as well as a strong focus on innovation. Going forward we want to close the gap between coffee producers and consumers and build on the work we are doing with cooperatives such as Highlands Organic Agriculture Co-operative in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea,” Mike said.

“We see huge opportunities to add value to producers through education and training so that they fully understand the importance of quality in the cup. We plan to continue to grow outside of our home city of Auckland and build on great relationships with quality-focused hospitality operators across other New Zealand cities and provinces.”

Here’s to the next 15 years.

Image credit: Josh Griggs.

Top right: The Kokako flagship Café in Grey Lynn, Auckland. Kokako run a custom painted 3 Group La Marzocco 3 Group Linea PB alongside a Mazzer Kold, Mazzer Robur and a Mahlkonig EK43.

Middle left: Mike Murphy, Managing Director or Kokako, presents a sample roaster to Daniel Kinne, Chairman of Highlands Organic Agriculture Cooperative, one of Kokako’s key coffee suppliers based in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Bottom right: Kokako Trainer and QC Manager Hannah Cho prepares filter coffee for an evening event.

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