Member Profile – Chiasso Coffee Roasters

We interview Jonathan Norton the Managing Director of from Chiasso Coffee Roasters, based in Devonport, Auckland.
Tell us about your company?
Chiasso Coffee Roasters is a family owned New Zealand business. We’ve been roasting coffee in Auckland for over 20 years. We supply our fresh roasted coffee beans to many great cafes all over New Zealand and we even send a bit overseas.
How long have you been trading?
Over 20 years. We were established in 1997 in a tiny shop in Devonport on Auckland’s North Shore. We’ve grown a wee bit since then but we’re still based in Devonport.

Tell us about your role?
I’ve done just about every job there is at Chiasso, from sweeping the floors and packing bags (back when I was studying at Uni) to roasting coffee and repairing machines. Nowadays I’m the Managing Director.

What is the best part of your job?
Probably the variety. We’re still a small enough business that I get to put on lots of different hats and do a wide variety of roles. Just this morning I was helping our head Barista pump out coffees in our espresso bar, yesterday I was roasting on our New Zealand made Stonka roaster and I still get plenty of opportunities to get out and talk to customers too.

What is the biggest challenge your business faces?
The coffee scene changes constantly! Staying up to date and if we’re lucky a little ahead of the latest innovations is the big, but fun challenge that we face. No time to rest! Our biggest ongoing challenge is to stay true to the ideals of our mission: “to consistently produce exceptional coffee in a sustainable way.”
What is your favourite part of the industry?
It’s actually a pretty fun industry to be a part of. I meet lots of cool people and it’s almost never boring.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry since your company has been operating?
We started in 1997 and the industry has changed hugely since that time. In the early days, it was a bit like the wild west with all sorts of crazy shenanigans going on. Hopefully, that wasn’t just at Chiasso! These days everyone has grown up a bit and the coffee scene has gotten more sophisticated. Plus everyone gets on better too, which is nice.

What change would you like to see?
We are working hard to make sustainability a central part of our business. I’d love to see more coffee roasters go down this line. There is so much unnecessary waste particularly with takeaway coffee.

What would be your dream ‘coffee experience’?
I visited a small coffee farm a year or two ago in Kona, Hawaii. It was really cool. I’d love to get the time to do more trips to origin to gain more understanding of how that side of the industry works, and meet more farmers and the other people that make it happen.
Name two coffee legends would you want to have coffee with and why?  What would you drink?
I’d probably go a bit old school here with Kenneth Davids, as back in the 90’s he was one of the best sources we had for coffee information and he’s still going strong today. I’d really love to get his thoughts on our trophy winning single origin Ethiopian Kochere, so that would need to be a Hario V60.
The other would be Scott Rao because I loved his recent book on roasting and in general, he seems like a pretty knowledgeable and down to earth guy. I’d probably need a long drink here so I’d be sipping on a nitro cold brew.

Thanks, Jonathan!
Check out the team at Chiasso with the links below: