Sunday 26 June 2022

How they make it: Kokako lifts the lid on roasting speciality coffee

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Specialty coffee company Kokako, based in the trendy Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn, sources its certified organic, Fairtrade coffee beans from Papua New Guinea, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Ethiopia and Sumatra.

Kokako managing director Mike Murphy said the coffee arrives as green beans in 60 to 70 kilogram sacks.

Kokako managing director Mike Murphy has worked in the food and beverage industry for 23 years, starting as a pizza delivery driver at school.

A 100 gram sample of coffee is taken from each shipment and is inspected using Specialty Coffee Association of America guidelines to ensure the coffee meets the same quality standards as a pre-shipment sample.

If any major defects are detected the shipment can be sent back to the supplier.

“Logistically it’s a pain, but for us it’s about preserving the integrity of our brand,” Murphy said.

Kokako paid a premium for a higher grade of coffee which provided more uniform beans, allowing for a better roasting profile.

The green beans are added to the roasting machine in 25kg batches, with one single origin roasted at a time to ensure flavours are correctly managed.

The beans are roasted at about 220 degrees Celsius, turning the starch in the beans to sugar. The sugar caramelises, creating the rich coffee flavours.

“First crack” occurs after about 13 minutes – when the beans start popping like popcorn, at which point the beans are moved from the roaster to a cooling rack, then sucked through a de-stoner to remove any foreign objects.

A sample is taken from every single origin and put through a process called “cupping” where the coffee taste is evaluated to ensure it meets a roast profile that was electronically programmed at the beginning of the roast.

From here the coffee is packaged as either a single origin, or is mixed with up to three other single origins to make a blend.

Murphy bought he business in 2007 after being inspired by the emerging specialty coffee scene in Melbourne.

“I wanted my own brand and my own business,” Murphy said.

He was going to start his own cafe but then saw the organic coffee roasting business for sale.

“So I jumped in and I bought it.”

Kokako employs 26 staff and supplies about 250 hospitality, retail and corporate customers.

The company roasts about 1.2 tonnes of coffee a week.

John Anthony

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