On the Grind

Roaster Collaboration #63 - Aotea Roast

Roaster Collaboration #63 - Aotea Roast

We have quite the story for you this month, so settle in and get comfy!

We’ll start by introducing this month’s coffee roaster who we are most excited to feature and to be collaborating with – it really has been a dream come true, particularly for Sarah (one half of On the Grind)!

For February we are stoked to share with our subscribers Aotea Roast, a fairly new to the scene coffee roaster who has only been operating from Aotea (Great Barrier Island) for roughly 9 weeks!

Bags of Aotea Roast coffee lined up on a bench top

If you’re not familiar, Aotea is an island situated in the outer Hauraki Gulf with a population of roughly 1000. It is a pretty remote place that gives you a good idea of what Aotearoa would have originally been like. It is accessed via ferry or a short flight in a very small plane from Auckland, but this is all part of its incredible charm.

Coming into land over the beach at Aotea in a small Barrier Air plane.

The concept for Aotea Roast was born when Chris fell in love with this off-grid paradise. Armed with a Kiwi can-do attitude and an international palette for good coffee, he decided to create Aotearoa’s first off-grid coffee; a boutique, small-batch roastery producing quality artisan coffee.

Native New Zealand bush with a small building nestled in between the trees.

Situated at the end of a rugged 4wd track on a private 12-acre block of native bush, the roastery set-up consists of a 5kg vintage Turkish drum roaster. It is solar powered and surrounded by some of the cleanest air in the world! The medium-to-dark roasted beans are a blend of Ethiopian, Nicaraguan and Brazilian origins with tasting notes of a bright and fruity front with a smooth rich caramel finish.

Aotea Roast is perfect for espresso, plunger, stovetop and AeroPress, and is designed to fuel you through your outdoor adventures.

Aotea Roast's Roaster Chris, sitting on empty beer crates in front of a 5kg vintage Turkish drum roaster

Now that we have hopefully done this awesome roaster justice, we thought it could be ‘fun’ to share the journey Chris and the OtG team have been on this last month to get the coffee in your hot little hands.

Ironically, when we were first in talks with Chris about a collaboration, we agreed that earlier in the year was best, as Aotea Roast relies on a good amount of sun with it being a fully solar powered operation. As we’re sure we’re all aware by now, mother nature had other plans for Aotearoa this February and sent Cyclone Gabrielle our way. Naturally we were quite concerned for Chris and everyone on the Barrier, as this wee island can get pummelled by storms like this.

Thankfully all has turned out ok for Chris but getting coffee off the island in the middle of a cyclone, on small Barrier Air aeroplanes, in time for dispatch, has proven to be a wee challenge. It’s important to note that this has been a minor challenge in comparison to what some Kiwi’s in other parts of Aotearoa have been going through and our thoughts are with them at this immensely difficult and scary time! It’s fair to say, it has never felt like a better time to be featuring an off-grid, solar powered coffee roaster with a limited carbon footprint!

Picture of Medlands Beach on Great Barrier Island.

On a brighter note, we are so thrilled to be featuring Aotea’s first coffee roaster! As we mentioned before, this has been a dream of Sarah’s in particular. Reason being - Sarah’s Poppa (who sadly passed away prior to covid) built a humble but very special bach on a cliff top looking out to the Coromandel Peninsular, in Aotea’s Tryphena, in the 70’s. Sarah’s Dad, Aunty, and Uncle all grew up spending long family holidays off-grid on the Barrier, a tradition that has continued with the next generation – Sarah, her sister, cousins, and all the partners who have joined the family. Aotea is the families most special place on earth and is even where Ed and Sarah got engaged. This collaboration is something we’re very proud of and we hope Sarah’s Poppa feels that way too!

Family bach on the Barrier, built in the 70's by Sarah's Poppa.

If you’re looking for holiday ideas, we highly recommend adding Aotea (Great Barrier Island) to your summer destination wishlist and popping over to visit Chris at Aotea Roast to stock up on his beans. He has some pretty epic merch available too, so throw your support behind him!