Coffee roasted free and easy

It's called free and easy because that's how Steve and Jo find living in Gisborne.

It's called free and easy because that's how Steve and Jo find living in Gisborne.

THE BUSINESS OF COFFEE: Far East Coffee's Steve King and Jo Pewhairangi never planned to open a coffee business - it evloved around them. Picture by Runa Kuru

STEVE King and Jo Pewhairangi can’t think of a better climate to live in or a better place to bring up their two children than Gisborne.

The founders of Far East Coffee Co moved here from Wellington in 2012 for a change in lifestyle — they got that and have also created a successful, evolving business.

When they arrived, Jo had a job to come to and Steve became “home dad” for a while. They are adamant coffee wasn’t a part of any future plans. They had started businesses in the past and thought they would eventually like to start another one, but they weren’t sure what that would end up being.

The pair have two decades combined experience in the coffee industry that spans front-of-house management, managing barista training and development programmes, and working behind the machine in fast-paced, high-volume environments, to running the technical and account departments of a national coffee company.

Soon after they arrived, Steve started doing technical and machine work for the major out-of-town roasters. The couple quickly learned that there wasn’t a local coffee company here that could provide the same service.

“We weren’t initially looking to fill the gap, but we got more and more requests for help with training and machine maintenance. When someone asked us to provide them with coffee too, we thought why not?” says Steve.

With the help of some friends who are roasters in Hamilton, they worked on developing a blend and roast profile — and had their special Far East blend shipped to Gisborne twice a week.

They started their home delivery runs in March 2014, delivering coffee throughout central Gisborne, Wainui and Makorori.

“We had such an awesome response to the home delivery service that the next progression was establishing a roastery here and creating a shop front.”

Cart opens at Farmers' Market

In August 2014, the roaster was ordered and on the ship and they started at the Farmers’ Market with their coffee cart.

“Before we invested in the roaster we wanted to make sure it was going to work out. We had developed our blend and were working away quietly — it turns out it was worth it.”

The coffee cart acts as their storefront where they sell espresso drinks, filter drinks and coffee for home.

“We are constantly blown away by the support we receive at the market, there’s always a great bunch of people in the queue.”

From the beginning it was important for the couple to try to keep as much of the “coffee dollar” circulating among Gisborne businesses.

“Local businesses spend a hell of a lot of money supporting out-of-town roasters. We wanted to give those businesses an opportunity to have that money returning through their doors.

“If businesses are able to spend locally they will hopefully see the money staying local. It’s a win-win.”

They are not driving their business, instead they say they are caretakers.

“We are holding its hand and will see where it takes us. We have no clear-cut business plan. There have been gaps in the market and we have slowly been filling them. It certainly has a life of its own — it has been full of surprises."

All of Far East’s coffee has organic certification at the farm and is fairly traded. The “free and easy blend” is described as being deep and smooth in flavour.

“It is smooth, sweet, full-bodied with a hint of citrus and a cocoa finish. We called it ‘free and easy’ because that’s how we describe living here — that is how life should be.”

They also roast a single origin coffee with sweet citrus and mocha tones called Yirgacheffe. This one is for coffee made with a French press (plunger), chemex or filter. The collection is finished off with an organic decaf.

Coffee, they say, is a never-ending learning experience and there is always room to improve.

“The best coffee is made with a good, fresh product and put together by caring hands.”

Far East Coffee Co supplies Frank and Albie’s Exhibit Cafe, Kingpin Eastcoast​, Soho Restaurant, Sticky Cafe, Pak’n Save, The Jolly Stockman and EIT’s Pop-up Café. They sell whole beans and ground coffee as well as coffee drinks at the Gisborne Farmers’ Market, and home-deliver beans and ground coffee in central Gisborne on Tuesdays and in Tamarau, Wainui and Makorori on Wednesdays.

STEVE King and Jo Pewhairangi can’t think of a better climate to live in or a better place to bring up their two children than Gisborne.

The founders of Far East Coffee Co moved here from Wellington in 2012 for a change in lifestyle — they got that and have also created a successful, evolving business.

When they arrived, Jo had a job to come to and Steve became “home dad” for a while. They are adamant coffee wasn’t a part of any future plans. They had started businesses in the past and thought they would eventually like to start another one, but they weren’t sure what that would end up being.

The pair have two decades combined experience in the coffee industry that spans front-of-house management, managing barista training and development programmes, and working behind the machine in fast-paced, high-volume environments, to running the technical and account departments of a national coffee company.

Soon after they arrived, Steve started doing technical and machine work for the major out-of-town roasters. The couple quickly learned that there wasn’t a local coffee company here that could provide the same service.

“We weren’t initially looking to fill the gap, but we got more and more requests for help with training and machine maintenance. When someone asked us to provide them with coffee too, we thought why not?” says Steve.

With the help of some friends who are roasters in Hamilton, they worked on developing a blend and roast profile — and had their special Far East blend shipped to Gisborne twice a week.

They started their home delivery runs in March 2014, delivering coffee throughout central Gisborne, Wainui and Makorori.

“We had such an awesome response to the home delivery service that the next progression was establishing a roastery here and creating a shop front.”

Cart opens at Farmers' Market

In August 2014, the roaster was ordered and on the ship and they started at the Farmers’ Market with their coffee cart.

“Before we invested in the roaster we wanted to make sure it was going to work out. We had developed our blend and were working away quietly — it turns out it was worth it.”

The coffee cart acts as their storefront where they sell espresso drinks, filter drinks and coffee for home.

“We are constantly blown away by the support we receive at the market, there’s always a great bunch of people in the queue.”

From the beginning it was important for the couple to try to keep as much of the “coffee dollar” circulating among Gisborne businesses.

“Local businesses spend a hell of a lot of money supporting out-of-town roasters. We wanted to give those businesses an opportunity to have that money returning through their doors.

“If businesses are able to spend locally they will hopefully see the money staying local. It’s a win-win.”

They are not driving their business, instead they say they are caretakers.

“We are holding its hand and will see where it takes us. We have no clear-cut business plan. There have been gaps in the market and we have slowly been filling them. It certainly has a life of its own — it has been full of surprises."

All of Far East’s coffee has organic certification at the farm and is fairly traded. The “free and easy blend” is described as being deep and smooth in flavour.

“It is smooth, sweet, full-bodied with a hint of citrus and a cocoa finish. We called it ‘free and easy’ because that’s how we describe living here — that is how life should be.”

They also roast a single origin coffee with sweet citrus and mocha tones called Yirgacheffe. This one is for coffee made with a French press (plunger), chemex or filter. The collection is finished off with an organic decaf.

Coffee, they say, is a never-ending learning experience and there is always room to improve.

“The best coffee is made with a good, fresh product and put together by caring hands.”

Far East Coffee Co supplies Frank and Albie’s Exhibit Cafe, Kingpin Eastcoast​, Soho Restaurant, Sticky Cafe, Pak’n Save, The Jolly Stockman and EIT’s Pop-up Café. They sell whole beans and ground coffee as well as coffee drinks at the Gisborne Farmers’ Market, and home-deliver beans and ground coffee in central Gisborne on Tuesdays and in Tamarau, Wainui and Makorori on Wednesdays.

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