Bernard Smith has coffee in his blood. His grandparents were coffee roasters in the 1940s, followed by his parents, and now Bernard is following the family tradition with Vivace Espresso Café and Roastery.
The business first stared as a café in the Christchurch CBD in 1997, before progressing to a dedicated roasting facility in its current location in Tuam street.
“We’re aiming for the top-end of the market, with a quality focus on training, cupping and café business,” says Bernard.
The café itself caters for about 40 people, and customers have the good fortune to sample freshly roasted coffee from the back of the shop.
Vivace serves their award-winning house blend, Ultimate espresso, the recent winner of this year’s supreme award for New Zealand’s Best Coffee at the ninth Huhtamaki New Zealand Coffee awards.
This blend consists of high-grade Arabica beans from Brazil, Guatemala, Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Mexico.
“It’s really well-balanced, full- bodied with cocoa notes to finish,” says Bernard.
The café serves their award-winning Ultimate Espresso on their Synesso machine. A number of single origin coffees are also available for purchase, including the Guatemala Santa Clara.
It’s been a tough couple of years for Vivace and many Christchurch cafés since the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Bernard says however, it’s onwards and upwards for the New Zealand coffee industry.
“When the earthquake struck we were lucky to escape with superficial damage. When we reopened our sales almost tripled because there weren’t many cafés left standing. People couldn’t go to work so they went to cafés instead,” says Bernard. “Cafés have gradually reestablished themselves and soon enough the market will be saturated with cafés again.”
Vivace sells machines and coffee equipment at its Christchurch location and has a dedicated training centre available. for those who can’t get enough of Vivace, Wellington has it’s own small Vivace Espresso Bar in the heart of the business district.
“This business is all about the people you meet,” says Bernard. “Coffee is always changing and it forces us to improve all the time.”