Member company profile – Prima Roastery

We interview Jesse, Roastery Manager of Prima Roastery, Woolston in Christchurch

Tell us about your company?
Prima Roastery has been roasting coffee in the heart of Woolston, Christchurch for over 20 years. Beginning with a focus on classic espresso coffee we now also present a range of origins and roasting styles with a strong emphasis on ethically sourced, organic coffee. Sustainability is a crucial part of how we believe business should be conducted. For instance, we led the industry in the development and implementation of compostable coffee packaging with Convex from Hamilton.
How long have you been trading?
Prima Roastery started in 1997 as Caffe Prima before a name change to more accurately reflect our focus on roasting.

Tell us about your role?
I am one of the two and a half roasters (meaning 50% of our staff know what’s happening in the big green Petroncini) and also take part in most other areas of Roastery business. As we are a fairly small operation everyone can turn their hand to most aspects of the business which is a definite plus.
What is the best part of your job?
This is a bit of a classic answer I suspect: sharing coffee with other people, introducing them to different coffee experiences and enjoying the subsequent chats – particularly when they start to amble along unexpected paths!
What is the biggest challenge your business faces?
Introducing economically and environmentally sustainable practices throughout our operation in ways that enable us to help those involved in our wider ecosystem. At the moment we address this through purchasing Fair Trade coffee or coffee from suppliers with whom we are familiar and have great transparency, using local suppliers wherever possible, paying a living wage and collecting, receiving and composting our packaging in-house.
What is your favourite part of the industry?
Cupping and blend development with a variety of people is always great! I also like how the specialist coffee industry is able to take the lead in addressing issues from ethical trading to environmental concerns to employment conditions.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry since your company has been operating?
Probably the growing appreciation and exploration of coffee origins and the associated development of ethical and direct trade practices.

What change would you like to see?
Not so much a change as a continuation of all the hard work put in by roasters, baristas, importers, coffee aficionados and others in the industry to educate the wider coffee-drinking public in the joys and potential of origin coffee, brewing and processing. I would love to see coffee developing to where it is appreciated in similar ways to craft beer in New Zealand.
What would be your dream ‘coffee experience’?
Doing a wee roast and having a brew on a mountainside in Ethiopia.
Name two coffee legends would you want to have coffee with and why?  What would you drink?
David Lynch and Bob Dylan. They’re alive, fascinating and represent just a small part of the rich culture of creativity, iconoclasm and independence that surrounds the history of coffee. We would be sharing black coffee from the Moccamaster (naturally processed organic Harar).
Thanks, Jesse, we share many of those dream coffee experiences too! Try some Prima coffee here>