Have you ever met someone who totally embodies the business they run? Michael Allpress is that man. A love of coffee brewed early on in life, and saw him go on to design and build his own coffee roaster and ultimately start Allpress, a business that at its core is all about great flavour, simple design, consistent values and good-old-fashioned customer service.
I grew up in a small beachside town in Auckland in the ’70s—my parents were a bit alternative. I’d get sent to the IGA store to fetch the Colombian coffee and the grocer would grind it, bag it up and I’d run it home. When I got a bit older, a friend of my mother was running this kitchen called the Bronze Goat. It was very authentic Middle Eastern serving Turkish coffee and I learned a lot about food and coffee there too. I later opened a late-nightespresso bar in the red-light district of Auckland and pumped out coffee all night long.
Then I was about 29, 30, travelling through Seattle and saw this mobile espresso cart that a Boeing engineer built. I thought, That’s a good idea. I moved back to New Zealand, got a government grant, borrowed money off my dad and was in business. I was always obsessed with flavour and started researching not only coffee, but coffee-roasting equipment too. I bought a roaster out of Sydney, dragged it home and rebuilt it. That’s where I learned my craft. It wasn’t long before I started approaching a few restaurants and had created a little wholesale distributing business. I was looking to upgrade the original roaster that I’d rebuilt. I went to Vienna and knew hot-air roasting was the way to go, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy one ’cause it was so ugly!
We call it the Beyoncé. When I couldn’t find the exact hot-air roaster, I decided to build one myself. I teamed up with technical engineer Mike Scobie and we designed and built our own—the ART Roaster for Allpress.
I think what people love about coffee is that usually when you’re having one you’re with people you like and you’re sharing ideas and conversations. What makes a special coffee is flavour and consistency.
There’s a level of sincerity I strive to achieve. It’s how we’re able to clearly and honestly communicate with one another in the team. There’s a bit of a trust deficit out there in the world of business, and I think the relationships we have with our customers and with each other internally helps shift that.
I want to continue providing an environment that allows people to grow and adds value to their world. I also want a business that makes a significant contribution to the environment. Simple things like what we do with our burlap coffee sacks and asking for gold coin donations which in turn is given to local primary schools. I want more of that.
At Dumbo Feather, we only partner with businesses that are values-aligned. This means—for starters—that they demonstrate a commitment to positively impacting the world. Read more about our partners.