It was 2004, the G60 we had was beginning to feel smaller and smaller in terms of production capacity. We were having to split-shift the roasting day and this never leaves you with enough time to do all the other stuff that needs to be done to produce consistent blends. And alongside continued growth in roasting volumes comes all the other activities that are part of being a wholesale supplier. Our Tech Dept. was operating out of a cupboard and Despatch only just had enough space to store the next day's deliveries. Every department was fighting each other daily for storage on the pallet racking.

At the same time, we were plotting the next step in Supreme's life. Being near maximum capacity meant relocating the roastery so we could upscale our production. Before long our friend James found an unused commercial property at 31-35 Hopper St, just past the top of Cuba St. At last we could be almost in town.

This site had "enjoyed" many previous lives and this meant it was in need of some decent work. It consisted of one warehouse in some disrepair, one of abject squalor, a decent-sized carpark and some tired offices at the street front. The plan was to restore the salvageable warehouse as the roastery, install a new roaster that had the capacity to handle Supreme's volumes and growth and demolish the rest of the structures in order to create a purpose-built HQ. Heath and Chris ordered a spanking new Probat G120 and the roasting warehouse was reroofed and repaired. The roaster eventually showed up, in pieces stuffed into both a 20ft and a 40ft container that were dropped onto the car park outside.

We spent a few days unpacking these parts and trying to make sense of the inadequate instruction manual. A couple of weeks later we had the roaster together, or at least didn't have any spare pieces lying about, and it was time for Geart, the technician to arrive and help us get it going. He spent a bitter few weeks with us commissioning the new roaster, pausing for only more cigarettes and coffee, and teaching us how to cook sausages in the furnace underneath.

So once we had our heads around the new machine, or at least how not to trigger the array of alarms, we started a drawn-out and tortuous period of roasting our blends on the big roaster at Hopper St and transporting them back to Kaiwharawhara to be bagged and despatched. Our smaller batches were still being done on the G60 at Kaiwharawhara. The production team then slogged through a long 18-odd months of working at two sites on opposite sides of Wellington's CBD while the rest of the new HQ was pieced together out of tilt slabs and more tilt slabs.

Come 2007, the whole of Coffee Supreme was working under the same roof again. With much more room, the invasions of personal space were no longer a feature of daily life, the lunch options around Hopper St were so much better, and we had storage enough for every department and every department's flatmates. 

This place should see us out.

The History of Hopper Street is a part of our Twenty-One Stories book, which is the unofficial history of Coffee Supremes’ first 21 years.


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