Black & White Coffee Cartel, Christchurch

When Bink Bowler first fell in love with making coffee, he was barely out of high school. Along with a bunch of close friends, he decided to turn his obsession for the bean into a business venture which, well, didn’t quite work out. “It was great fun,” says Bink, “but we were all so young and didn’t really have a handle on good cashflow management.” Despite the setback, you can’t keep a good barista down and, in early 2015, Bink opened the doors of the very first Black & White Coffee Cartel in Victoria Street, Christchurch.

“When we opened, Christchurch was turning a corner in the rebuild and the people felt hope that their city was coming back. It was an amazing time to be starting again. It felt like me and the city were in synch.”

It wasn’t long before the café’s inviting eclecticism, great coffee and passionate people had developed a loyal Christchurch following, although Bink admits there were a few challenges. “One was working out how to cater to our new market. We’ve had to really listen, especially when it comes to food. I came from Wellington where people like small portions but in Christchurch they like heartier stuff. It’s a completely different demand.”

Bink originally sourced his coffee from a traditional supplier but when he stumbled across a micro-roasting machine at a company called The Coffee Workshop, he was totally sold. “The machine is fantastic and so were The Coffee Workshop,” says Bink. “They suggested we use Silver Chef to finance the purchase rather than pay for the micro-roaster upfront. It was a really good way to do it. Cashflow management is a big thing and Silver Chef is a great avenue that eases that burden.”

Bink and his team now micro-roast and supply themselves. “We’ve got control over our core product. All our espresso uses medium roast beans and our filter coffees use a light roast. To be honest, I hate dark roasts. When you roast coffee it’s sort of like toasting bread. If you over-toast it, you taste black instead of the bread’s characteristics. Same with coffee. The darker the roast, the less of the flavour is left. It’s really sad because coffee is beautiful, sweet and smooth. It’s not meant to be bitter and punchy.”

Bink has just opened the second Black & White Coffee Cartel in Christchurch, with two more coming over the next six months. “We want to open six in Christchurch and then we want to become a global micro-roasting franchise!”

Bink Bowler
Black & White Coffee Cartel, Christchurch

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