The early days
It is many years since 1996, when the Manawatu Coffee Roasting Company appeared in Palmerston’s Coleman Mall, later, becoming Ebony Coffee Company. Massey University Economist, Donne Mardle, started (like so many do) initially roasting with a 12 kg Otto Swadla - mainly for himself, friends and one cafe. We are still supplying that same commercial café… we must be doing something right.
A few retail sales were made on Saturday mornings and the first full time employee arrived on the scene within three months and from that point, Ebony Coffee has paved its way into many coffee drinkers daily lives.
Growing business and new roasters
In February 2000 we moved to new premises in George Street. A 12kg Probat roaster was purchased from Stewarts Coffee in Dunedin from their original café in the Octagon. Donne rebuilt and refurbished it and the local kids liked to come and see “Thomas” the roaster. Jamie from Ozone purchased the Swadla to start up their coffee business.
By late 2003 Ebony Coffee had doubled in size, allowing room for a barista training facility, another roaster and warehouse space for commercial equipment. The bigger, 30kg Italian Petroncini from Wellington’s Tea & Coffee World was forklifted in and “Petra” remains with us today.
In 2006, Donne again moved the company to a dedicated factory site in Featherston Street (just in case you were wondering where we went), leaving the retail beans to be sold by someone else. We developed the Windy Ridge brand, to reflect the breezy Manawatu Ranges and the organic / fairtrade movement. Annette’s #5 blend is an award winning espresso from the 2010 NZ Coffee Awards.
In July 2012, Donne made the move to retire and take some time to ride his motorbike across the States, leaving new owners, Sally and Brian to pick up the reins with the very experienced team of Vicki, Annette & Tim.
Today, the Roastery at 208 Featherston Street still enjoys the wonderful consistent roasting of the Petroncini. We are really proud of our Speciality Coffees and are members of the New Zealand Speciality Coffee Association (NZSCA).
We now have more Home Barista accessories, and a display of the outstanding EXPOBAR Spanish brand of home & commercial espresso machines and parts. We are also more involved in the coffee & hospitality industries. The next generation of individuals, who are developing their passion for coffee, are finding their way to our door – it’s great to be a part of the age-old quest for the perfect brew.
We like supporting our local community too (gentle plug) – Go see the next play at one of the few remaining professional Theatres in NZ – Centrepoint Theatre – talented actors at work! We support cycling in the Manawatu, especially the Tour de Manawatu and the Ulysses Motorcycle Club in their annual point to point.
Factory door bean sales are growing too. We are encouraging the public back for their caffeine hit direct! Every week someone wanders in, saying that they wondered where Ebony Coffee went from George Street and how pleased they are to be able to purchase a favourite blend again.
Keep following your noses to the Ebony Coffee Roastery, we look forward to meeting you all.