White baiters and hunters make the wildest claims. For the past 16 years or so they’ve been asking the local town folk to believe that, after struggling through the bush to get to the Okari River and Lagoon at the end of Virgin Flat Road, they often smell fresh roasting coffee. Well . . . that is one tall tale you can believe.
Kawatiri Coffee Roasting is the Wild West Coast’s own boutique “bush” coffee roaster. We’re hidden away at the edge of the Tasman Sea between the historic gold mining town of Charleston and the quaint fishing village of Westport. And we’ve been beavering away here in the bush roasting Single Origin Fairtrade Certified Organic coffee for about 16 years.
Nestled in pristine bush and high on a bluff overlooking the Tasman Sea, Kawatiri Coffee batch roasts exceptional coffee the old fashioned way, over open flame.
We’re a family business. I started roasting coffee when I migrated to the West Coast from Oregon in the USA. Westport didn’t have much to offer in the way of fresh organic coffee when I first arrived, so I roasted my own. Pretty soon people were driving out from Westport asking to buy fresh roasted beans.
Buck, my son and the master roaster, has the love of good coffee is in his genes. His grandfather, a gold miner in the wilds of Idaho—a sourdough as such men were called—roasted his coffee in a frying pan over an open fire. His ‘cowboy coffee’ was hot enough to scald the hair off a black bear, and strong enough to dissolve the business end of a spoon. Grandpa would keep the brew going for several days, adding more coffee grounds and fresh spring water, all the while leaving the kettle in the coals so visitors could squat by the fire and enjoy a hot cup of ‘joe’.
Surging demand required us to upgrade our original kit to a 25 kilogram roaster. Bruce, my partner and Kawatiri Coffee’s engineer, fashioned the roaster from both new and salvaged materials as well as plenty of No. 8 wire and Kiwi ingenuity.
Recently, Avi, fresh off a Zodiac in Antarctica, joined our roasting family and is already greatly valued for her cheerful ‘can do’ attitude and exceptional skills repertoire.
We now supply cafes, country stores, and supermarkets from Northland to Dunedin, as well as a loyal following of mail order customers.
Our goal and philosophy? We want to roast exceptionally good coffee the old fashioned way. And as Grandpa used to say, “Pull up a stump, have a coffee, and share a yarn or two. There are no strangers here, only friends we have yet to meet.”
Tater Coppernoll and the Kawatiri Coffee Family
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