Precious Drop story
It started out as a passion. Simple enough.
When Precious Drop roaster Pete turned 30, I (his wife Jocelyn) gave him a Gaggia espresso machine for his birthday. Up until this point we really hadn’t been coffee drinkers. It was the 1990s and coffee wasn’t the all-encompassing culture that it is today.
What started as a fledgling interest in brewing the best coffee soon turned into an all-out obsession – did I say obsession? I meant passion.
The fine art of coffee brewing, the science, the beans; it sparked an interest that led to understanding most beans on the market are not what you’d call ‘fresh’. Not even moderately fresh. And so, in the interests of the perfect cup, Pete decided to dabble in roasting his own beans.
Roasting only 200g at a time on a bench-top Gene Café, Pete honed his skills. Recording every roast in a notebook then refining and adjusting for the next roast, he learned how to master the process in a very hands on way – the Gene was definitely what you’d call manual operation.
To begin with, he sourced beans from a NZ importer called Green Bean House, experimenting with different single-origin roasts. Fast-forward five years and people were asking us when we’d be selling our beans, so, Precious Drop Coffee Roasting Co. was born.
Pete’s fascination for single-origin roasts has never wavered. Every country, region, grower, processing method and type of bean is unique and it’s the combination of all these things that creates distinct differences. The surprising thing about roasting a wide range is just how different every single one is. The skill of the roaster is in knowing how far to take any batch of beans through the roasting process and the speed at which you roast (and that’ll be a topic for another blog post). Terminology like ‘first and second crack’ has become part of our daily lives!
While the roaster has been upgraded – we now have a 1kg Aillio Bullet – the philosophy is still exactly the same: perfecting each single-origin bean to create the ultimate cup of coffee. We’ve expanded our network of coffee buyers, focussing on full traceability, preferably Fairtrade and Organic, and knowing the producers are being paid well for the unique product they’re growing.
We’re still a boutique roaster based at our home, Waiariki Cottage, in Whangārei, Te Taitokerau (Northland). Our 1kg roasts enable Pete to maximise the flavour every time and we roast to order so our Precious Drop is at optimum drinking age when it reaches your door (we offer free local pick-up in central Whangārei or to customers who call in as they’re heading North to Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, and further north).
Quality coffee should only be a few weeks old at most – after that, the complexity of flavours reduces. Somewhere between four days and three weeks from roast is the best time to brew your beans – the roast date is clearly stamped on each 200g bag of Precious Drop coffee.
Beans are left overnight once they’re roasted and sealed in bags with a one-way valve so no oxygen can get in but the beans can slowly release their gases – part of their natural process. By roasting to order, and maintaining small batch sizes, we’re able to ensure you’ll receive fresh premium single-origin coffee every time, not something that’s been roasted months before and is well past its best!
We’re also passionate about minimising waste so our bags are fully home compostable – you still have to remove the sticker, but that’s one of the final parts of our packaging we’re hoping to upgrade to compostable in the near future.
As Precious Drop Coffee Roasting Co. grows, we aim to stick to our guns – keep our roasts small-batch and if that means buying more roasters the same size to do multiple roasts at once, then that’s the way we’ll go.
Future plans, once the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions have eased, include travel to Costa Rica, in particular, to source beans directly and trips to visit growers around the world, eventually sourcing more specialist beans from small growers. (We learned so much from a trip in 2018 to New York and Scandinavia, sampling coffee and visiting other roasters like the Brooklyn Roasting Co.!)
In the meantime, we’ll continue to work with a range of importers ensuring ethical processes are being followed to support producers, bringing our Precious Drop family of coffee drinkers the best beans we can possibly roast.
Check out the full range on our website Precious Drop Coffee. We’re adding more beans all the time and offer small sample packs of three different varieties if you’re unsure where to start. We’ve also got starter kits to brew the perfect cup at home – two different styles of brewing with or without a grinder.
Welcome to the Precious Drop family!