DIANNE COTTER: Why coffee?
MICHAEL ALLPRESS: 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-night espresso 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!
Now you’ve got a sexy looking coffee roaster.
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.
That is totally the Beyoncé of coffee roasting equipment! What do you think makes coffee so special?
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.