This month our La Marzocco Roaster in Residence is Ripe Coffee Roasters from Petone in Lower Hutt. For the entire month of February, we will be sharing their coffee with our guests at our Auckland showroom and we’ll even be giving a complimentary bag of their house blend “The Settler” with every home machine purchased throughout the month.
We spoke with Ripe Coffee Roaster’s owner, director and technician, Jason Hall, to find out more about their story and the coffee they’ll be sharing with us this month.
You came from a background in motorcycle engineering. What motivated you to make the switch to coffee?
I’m a guy who makes my hobbies my work. My motorcycle career began when I left school and completed an apprenticeship as a motorcycle mechanic. Seven years later, this led to an opportunity where I worked in the MotoGP World Championship which meant I spent six years in Europe. Between events, we would then travel around Europe and frequently visit cafes and restaurants. I particularly enjoyed Italy and Spain for their coffee and became caught up in each experience I had. With this being the mid-nineties, the coffee and cafe scene in New Zealand was starting to kick off at the same time. Nonetheless, I met my wife Cate in Northern Ireland in 1997 yet in the same year I bought an old building in Jackson Street, Petone. Over the next few years, Cate and I plotted and schemed, got married, had our daughter and decided to make a break for New Zealand and open a cafe in Petone. With Cate’s background in nutrition and my passion for coffee, we grew the cafe and soon after started roasting our own coffee. Now we have established four cafes in Wellington, a range of wholesale customers using Ripe Coffee and are constantly innovating to develop the business in the ever-changing market.
What’s your go-to coffee order?
My go-to coffee order is as it comes. I raise and lower my expectations accordingly. If it’s a place offering a selection of micro-lots brewed six different ways, my expectation will be high. But if I’m in one of the oldest roasteries in Bandung, West Java, where they age their coffee for seven years and then roast in a 100-year-old roaster for an hour, then I have low expectations. But sometimes you get a nice surprise…
What’s your favourite motorcycle that you ever worked on?
I love a project! I’m a bit nostalgic when it comes to old things, probably to my own detriment. I have a bit of a habit of rescuing things and trying to resurrect them; for example, the old morris truck off of my uncle’s farm I used to load hay onto the back of when I was 17 is now taking space up in our Roastery until I can find time to restore it. Currently, I’m fixing up an old GPZ500 Kawasaki; I used to race one in the early nineties… you get the picture! I’m not a fan of the buy it cheap and throw away society – I’m a fix it up and keep it going kind of guy and that’s what I like about La Marzoccos, the fact that you can fix and refurbish them to live on.
How did Ripe get started?
Ripe Coffee started out the back of our cafe in Jackson Street, ‘Go Bang Espresso’. We set up in 2001 with a Turkish Roaster and four sacks of green coffee. In those days there were no books and nothing on the line; so, it was more a case of spending an hour with a coffee roaster watching him, asking questions and then having a go. Having worked on the espresso machine for a year and a half prior, and having my mechanical background definitely set us off on the right path. The emerging coffee scene through the early part of the 2000s was great to help establish the business and the cafe had a good name, which then helped with organic growth within Wellington and New Zealand.
Tell us about the espresso you’ve chosen to feature during your La Marzocco Roaster in Residence tenure.
The espresso we have chosen to feature is our house blend “Settler”. We wanted to feature a coffee that we crafted; a blend that represents Ripe, who we are we are and what we are about. I always like to try other roasters’ espresso blends to benchmark their coffee, it’s always a better representation of them than a single origin. The name Settler comes from Petone which is where we are based and where the early settlers first arrived in New Zealand. The current Settler blend consists of five different origins, one natural and four washed:
- Brazil Filomena Natural
- Indonesia West Java
- Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 2 Wenago
- Colombia Gaitania
- Nicaragua Dipilto
This coffee is pre-blended and roasted on our 30kg Swaldo roaster in 15kg batches over 12 minutes. The Colombia and Nicaragua are a nice base to the blend with good caramels and chocolate; then the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe bumps up the acidity and adds a little citrus zing. The Indonesian Java puts in a little sweetness and spice and finally, the Brazil rounds the cup out with a smooth and creamy finish.
What’s the recommended espresso recipe for these beans?
There are two different options; one being a shorter extraction and one with a higher yield.
1:2 Ratio – 18g in and 38g out
Gives notes of berries, stonefruit, soft caramel and cocoa
1:1.5 Ratio – 18g in and 29g out
Gives a more intense result with darker notes of date, port wine, dark chocolate and dark caramel
Can you tell us more about the coffee producers and why it’s important for you to know the story behind each coffee that you roast?
When we started out in coffee there was only one main supplier to source your green coffee from. This was ok at the time but as the industry grew it became apparent that everyone was using the same coffee and there was very little difference between each roaster. This set us out on a journey of sourcing our own coffee.
It has been an interesting and informative journey as we established a new relationship with an American coffee broker and ventured into sourcing directly with Indonesia and Myanmar. We discovered that it’s the relationship that’s most important, not a certification or label, and the ability to visit the farms and see first hand the issues faced by those farmers. Each country and region have their own problems and while we aren’t going to be able to fix them all, providing certainty and building these relationships can go a long way in improving futures.
If someone falls in love with your coffee during the month of February, how can they keep stocked up? Where can they buy it for their home machines?
The best place to find and buy our coffee is on our website where we also break down the components and provide profiles of our single origin coffees. We have four cafes in Wellington where you can be served Ripe Coffee – Hauora, Microlot, Origin and Small Batch. We also have a range of cafes across NZ stocking Ripe so keep an eye out!