by Black & White Coffee Cartel
last updated 22/09/2019
Keeping It Fresh
by Black & White Coffee Cartel
last updated 22/09/2019
Black & White Coffee Cartel is New Zealand’s first micro–roasting coffee franchise
Bink Bowler says coffee is all he’s ever known. The 29-year-old has been in the industry since he was 15. ‘I started working at a small café in Wanaka, and that eventually led to my opening my own coffee joint in Wellington. Black & White Coffee Cartel grew from there.
‘I began to ask questions of the whole business; I recognised the advantages franchises offered but to my mind most of the big chains were a bit dry – I wanted something cool and funky for the modern market. I decided to move back to the South Island and create a franchise of my own.’
Bink’s plan was based on solid overseas experience. ‘If you go to France or Italy, those little cafés on every street corner are renowned for their coffee, and they all have their own roaster inside,’ he says. ‘Most outlets in New Zealand don’t have that culture of absolutely fresh-roasted coffee, ground just moments before it is brewed. The big chains are mostly half-restaurants with mammoth kitchens – where are the small European-style cafés, with a raw feel and a divine aroma? That’s what I was aiming for.’
Bink not only succeeded – he ended up in partnership with his brother Luke, who manages building and store fit-outs and Alan Win, the strategist who develops the systems and prepares the documentation. And there’s one other rather important name – former All Black captain Reuben Thorne. ‘Reuben is our major shareholder and co-director, and his input and leadership has seen us grow rapidly. Today, there are nine franchised Black & White Coffee Cartel outlets in Christchurch and Queenstown with another about to open and further builds underway.’
Bink says that there’s another advantage to roasting on the spot – economics. ‘Since the 90s, the café business has changed a lot. Wages, rent and product costs have all risen, but the cup price has stayed around the five-dollar mark so margins have been squeezed ever tighter. The interesting thing is that as coffee beans move through the market from farmer to importer to roaster, there has been a minimal increase during that time – but from roaster to café, there has been an increase of nearly 300 percent.
‘Well, at Black & White we cut out that jump and give it all to the café. We buy beans direct from the importer on a long-term contract, and they arrive in sacks at each café exactly as they left the farm in Honduras or Brazil. By roasting their own beans in-house, franchisees save 50-60 percent on the product cost. Better margins, better returns and a fresher product, too!’
A business of your own
The key to the success of Black & White Coffee Cartel has been to turn owners into roasters as well as entrepreneurs. ‘Roasting is an art, and you can’t just go and learn how to do it with a big company, but we train you to help you deliver a great product every time,’ says Bink. ‘Like brewers or wine makers, roasters are usually happy people – there is a skill and romance involved which is far more than the sum of the parts.
‘People with experience in the industry are drawn to us because they love our points of difference, but we’ll consider anyone as long as they have a love of coffee,’ Bink says. ‘We’ve just started one franchisee for whom it is her first business. She had never even worked in a café, but she has the right personality. Hospitality is within – you’ve either got it, or you haven’t, and if you have then we’ll work with you and support you to build a business of your own.’
Funky and flexible
As you would expect, Black & White Coffee Cartel offers a wide degree of flexibility for franchisees when it comes to café size, menu and décor. ‘Look at our Facebook page and you won’t see a dull corporate sameness to every outlet – we go for raw and funky,’ says Bink. ‘We serve classic-style café food, of course – croissants, pastries, bagels, scones, sandwiches – but some of our cafés make on-site, some buy in. In fact, some of our highest trading shops don’t have kitchens and just focus on customers in need of a grab and go coffee fix.
‘This bespoke approach means that investment levels vary according to location and operation, starting from around $350,000 for a fully-equipped turn-key business. Initial expansion is currently aimed at Timaru, Dunedin and Invercargill, but we welcome interest from all round the country.
‘After nearly half my life studying coffee, I love it. Black & White is based on that love and on a deep understanding of how the business works. Come and join us!’
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