New Zealand specialty coffee industry bands together

The New Zealand specialty coffee industry bands together in the face of a complete café and hospitality lockdown.

The New Zealand specialty coffee industry bands together in the face of a complete café and hospitality lockdown.

Back in mid-March, few could have predicted a complete lockdown of New Zealand for five weeks, followed by two weeks of operating a business at level three restrictions. Overnight, the hospitality industry was halted.

The government acted quickly to ensure that employees received wage subsidies, business packages were introduced, and banks supported mortgage holidays.

Emma McDougall is the Communications and Administration Co-ordinator of the NZSCA.

But for a fractious eight days, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise deemed online coffee orders as non-essential. Households were plunged into instant withdrawal from their favourite artisan beans.

Roasters were holding tonnes of roasted coffee with no foreseeable way to sell it.

Those that didn’t have contracts with supermarkets rushed to adapt, pivot, and innovate to get their product to consumers. While we have often joked that baristas would love to work from home for a day, we were suddenly wondering if we’d have jobs or our favourite cafés to come back too.

Within a week, essential offerings came back online for those able to work from home. Luxuries such as coffee machines and indeed beans were deemed necessities. Strict health and safety guidelines were drawn up and those roaster cooling trays were once again turning.

A number of our members implemented some great initiatives to support the hospitality industry.

NZSCA member company Prima Roastery in Christchurch decided to support its wholesale partners in this time by creating a win/win situation. They developed a system of support where 25 per cent of the sale price from a bag of coffee went towards the consumer’s favourite café. With many businesses making the anxious step to remain closed during level three’s paradigm of “click and collect”, this added support meant cafés could concentrate on reopening full service when the time and safety was right.

In Auckland, member company Kokako Organic Coffee Roasters also wanted to support its wholesale café partners with its ‘support your local’ campaign. Customers at home could enjoy the taste of their favourite café’s coffee with its own logo on the front of the retail bag, knowing that 25 per cent of the sale of each 200-gram bag was credited to the café owner’s wholesale account, allowing them to offset this against their opening coffee order.

Customers were keen to share the love with many buying up large. For New Zealanders missing their favourite pastime of enjoying life in a café, this gave the owners a boost in an uncertain economy.

Member company Acme retails ceramics and cutlery around the world. They launched their simple plan in New Zealand where consumers purchasing from their collection would then select a café where 50 per cent of the sale would go to. With level three rules involving takeaway only, the option to recreate the café environment at home in a ceramic is still proving popular.

Fast forward a few months, and it’s unfathomable to think about what the hospitality industry has been through or what might happen next. We have certainly all missed the joy that sitting in our favourite café brings. But by helping each other in small ways, we can continue to grow and prosper.

This article appears in the June 2020 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

For more information on the New Zealand Specialty Coffee Association, or to join, visit

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