To overcome the challenges presented by COVID, a business needs to remain flexible and innovative, and this is exactly what Vanguard Specialty Coffee Co has done, not only surviving, but thriving during the pandemic.
“We moved to our new space in the heritage precinct of Dunedin Central, just two blocks from our old venue after the first lockdown. We realised with our previous license and space limitations we wouldn’t be able to open for months at a time due to COVID,” says Jason Moore, Director of Vanguard Specialty Coffee Co.
“With this new venue, we’ve shifted to a different business model which has allowed us to operate in a much faster way that actually involves our clients and customers.”
What Jason is referring to, is the open L shape space which allows both roasting clients and retail customers to walk around, learn, and interact with the full roasting process.
“This creates a two-way interaction and really fosters a relationship between client and roaster,” says Jason. “We’re currently the only fully specialty coffee company to offer this.”
At Vanguard, each specialty coffee blend is sourced directly from farmers in Brazil and Colombia, and categorised by farm lots and farmer names during retail sale.
“Having this traceability and information about who the farmer is and how the coffee was grown is important in educating the end consumer,” says Jason.
“It’s also important for us to have this direct relationship with the producers, where we can find out how much they are actually being paid and call them directly on Zoom. We also try to buy from the same farmers year in and year out, so they have a reliable source of income which is key in creating a more sustainable coffee industry.“
Vanguard’s newest café space has also installed a Vortx EcoFilter to remove the smoke and roast smell sustainably, and offers better infrastructure for roasting, such as two pallet doors for easy coffee bean deliveries.
Besides its roasting facilities, the Vanguard café has a retail shelf on the front, with a corner for coffee catchups and a cabinet offering a selection of cakes and pastries alongside its coffees.
“We offer the standard espresso-based beverages, two daily micro-lot batch brews, and a filter flight which allows customers to try different types of filter coffees,” says Jason.
“While we initially saw great demand for its light to medium roasted coffee, we’re now selling more single origin and micro-lot coffees, which really shows a greater appreciation and awareness for specialty coffees, which is fantastic.”
As part of the specialty coffee experience, Vanguard also offers a barista breakfas’: a tasting board of coffees which include a single origin espresso, flat white, and filter coffee, allowing customers to try a variety of coffee styles.
“Since we’ve started pushing new ideas like this, we’ve seen a dozen new cafés jump on board, and it’s been really great to see this change and growth in New Zealand’s coffee scene,” says Jason.
This ethos to continually evolve and innovate can be found in the brand’s name itself.
“I had been looking at a lot of companies and what their name stood for, and I thought vanguard, like a group of people leading the way with innovation and I wanted to focus on and really embody it as a focal point,” says Jason.
“It was a way to refer back to my values and remind myself to keep moving forward.”
While Jason’s hopes to visit his Colombian producers and partners were dashed this year, he still remains positive for 2022, looking forward developing deeper connections on the ground and contributing to New Zealand’s coffee scene.
Vanguard Specialty Coffee Co
49 Vogel Street, Dunedin, New Zealand 9016
Open Monday to Friday 7am – 4pm, Saturday 8:30am – 3:30pm
This article appears in the December 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.