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Project 12 - Flight Coffee

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Conceived in the most classic of Kiwi beds (a garage in a small town) Richard Corney’s insatiable curiosity about how to make things better led him to try roasting his own coffee while running a coffee shop in Hawkes Bay. The Flight Coffee Triceratops united with Matt Graylee and Nick Clark joining their best bud Richard in the quest to improve coffee. To get the message of Flight Coffee to the people, a face of the company was needed. With the help of many friends, a 28 square metre space in a historically dodgy part of town was transformed into the cosiest specialty coffee shop in Wellington. Almost entirely constructed using recycled and often free materials, Memphis Belle Coffee House opened in March 2010, and quickly began winning café awards for being chur. The most delicious roasted coffee can only come from high-quality raw beans. So Matt headed off overseas to work and learn in as many coffee-producing countries as possible, with the goal of improving Flight Coffee’s supply chain.


Very soon it became clear that in order to have a positive impact more resources would be required, so this project evolved into a full-time green bean farming, exporting, importing, and consulting company called Raw Material, and Matt hasn't lived in NZ since.


Time for the roasting operation to move to Wellington! While most wouldn’t see potential in a carpark, a bit of imagination and a ton of hard work created the Hangar, housing both the new roastery and a cafe. Like with all babies, there was some loud teething and sleepless nights, but after a ton of hard yakka the Hangar opened in September 2012.


A loyal customer from the very first day of Memphis Belle Coffee House, this is the year Ronak Patel came on board as the bean counter and in-house comic. Quartet time.


Meanwhile in Colombia, the first coffee farm transformation project was underway at Helena, and our ideal supply-chain was taking form.

After years of competing in the NZ Barista Championships, in 2013 Nick won and had the opportunity to represent NZ at the worlds. He went on to place 5th in the World Barista Championship finals. Nick was also chair of the NZ Barista Guild from 2013 to 2015.


The roastery had outgrown the Hangar within a year of moving to Wellington, so in Nov 2013 the new HQ opened around the corner. Now the Hangar could not only fill the cups of customers, but also the plates with a full functioning kitchen built where the roaster had been.


Time for another roaster upgrade, to a refurbished and tricked-out out classic Probat UG22 called Betty.

In late 2014 this other guy, Trev (who had been with Flight Coffee from the start) was like “I wanna be a part of this too – like for real”.


Trev pitched to buy in with the best PowerPoint presentation of all time, featuring “Boom” by P.O.D. and including the offer of tattooing each of the now five fly-boy’s faces on his milky buttocks.


Trev made partner and took the role of General Manager in NZ. Nothing in this paragraph is fabricated.

Raw Material was now in full swing with various projects underway to achieve the goal of greater price stability for coffee producers and improved income equality along the value-chain. El Fénix was bought in 2015, an 8 ha coffee farm in Colombia, to be the base for the team and a community wet mill for the neighbourhood.


In NZ it was time to go North, so in October 2015 a little tasting pop-up store on the corner of Wyndam and Queens st in Auckland was opened. Named Fresh Pots after the Dave Grohl classic Foo Fighter’s video.


The factory graciously received a spruce up to align with the rest of the brand and company. On top of that, the lab has been designed and almost built. The plan is to house all quality control, training, coffee profiling and sample roasting, family movie nights, and presentations within the space.


This year isn't over, so let's see what happens come January. Thank you all for being a part of the journey so far, have fun!

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