The Roast – Nick Fry

Nick Fry owns Celcius Coffee with wife Steph, find out more about him here:
What is your earliest coffee related experience?
My enjoyment of coffee started when I was twelve or thirteen and used to sneak my mother’s instant coffee. When I moved to Wellington in the early eighties my taste matured to plunger coffee and eventually, with the development of the Wellington coffee scene and our involvement in the coffee industry, I have become a little obsessed with producing good consistent coffee.
When / why did you first get working in coffee?
I started working in coffee when my wife and I purchased a small, wholesale coffee distribution business in late 2004. The business bought and sold contract roasted coffee.
What led you to becoming a roaster?
We started roasting coffee ourselves because we couldn’t get the coffee we wanted from our contract roaster. He wouldn’t roast fairtrade coffee for us so we decided to do it ourselves. We started roasting in early 2007, when we met a very cool, local coffee guy who was prepared to show us the ropes.
What do you roast on, anything unique about your set up?
We roast on a highly modified Toper Roaster. They are a pretty basic piece of machinery and once we tweaked it and learned how to drive we were able to produce pretty damn good coffee.
Apart from your roasting machine (in its factory floor form), what’s your favorite “tool” you use in your role?
I’m not really a “tool” guy unless you include my laptop computer which I would be lost without.
What do you find most rewarding about roasting?
Producing a quality product which other people clearly enjoy.
Talk us through a typical work day I wear a variety of hats in our coffee business – the main ones are managing our relationship with Trade Aid, overseeing the coffee purchasing and the day to day roasting process. I also manage the finances of our businesses.
We employ a coffee roaster and a quality control manager so my day to day contact with the roasting side is more limited these days. I can manage things from almost anywhere, if I have my laptop and my i-phone.
What are your roles outside of roasting?
I manage the finances of our businesses (including our café in Petone and our IdealCup business). I work as a career (paid) firefighter. So, between all these jobs and my family, I don’t have much spare time for a lot more.
Which origin would you most like to visit and why?
I have not visited any origins as yet. If I did get the opportunity, I would like to visit Ethiopia, as we enjoy their coffee the most – and I would certainly enjoy a trip to Africa to see all the wildlife on safari.
Any fire stories?
We have had one flue fire since we’ve been roasting and this is pretty embarrassing, given I’m a firefighter. I personally knew the firefighters who attended the call and just fortunately for me, I was not on site on the day, so they couldn’t make too much fun of me.
In my role as a firefighter I have attended a number of fires at other Wellington roasteries – I won’t name names as I’m sworn to secrecy. There was one particular flue fire where a gentleman (again, unnamed) was particularly happy to see me arrive at the fire call, as he knew, being a coffee roaster myself, I would have a greater understanding of their equipment and minimise their downtime and “save the day”!