Business Profiles

by Black & White Coffee Cartel

last updated 10/12/2021


Micro Roastery, Maximum Return

by Black & White Coffee Cartel

last updated 10/12/2021


Black & White Coffee Cartel franchisees are bringing Euro-style cafés to New Zealand

When her father’s Christchurch café closed after the Canterbury earthquakes, Irene Chang decided to learn all she could about the coffee business. ‘It was sad, but we were not the only people to lose a business at that time, so I decided to learn everything I could about the industry by becoming a barista at a major franchise. It was an excellent café, and I was tempted to buy one myself when I chanced upon the Black & White Coffee Cartel in Victoria Street. It was different, exciting, and I quickly thought, “This is the one for me.”’

Irene wasn’t the first to be attracted by the funky little café, which was founded in 2014 by the Bowler brothers and former All Blacks captain Reuben Thorne. Raphael Garcia, now Chief Financial Officer for the 12-strong franchise, explains: ‘My business partner Alan Win and I were attracted by the unique model and financial advantages, and saw the potential to turn it into a franchise. But we refused to implement the cookie cutter approach – all stores would be individual, alive, vibrant, bursting with flavour and, above all, heaving with that exquisite aroma that comes from roasting coffee on site for maximum freshness.

‘This last fact became our unique point of difference – our franchisees are trained coffee roasters who perfect their art and skill with us. Just like vintners or brewers, coffee roasters are artists, to the benefit of our loyal – and ever-growing – clientele. Today, Black & White is one of the fastest-growing coffee franchises in the country.

Fresher product, better margins

Passer-by Irene soon became one of the first franchisees. ‘I loved the on-site roasting and felt strongly that Black & White would offer me the support and knowledge I needed to succeed. That was four years ago, and time has proved me right – in fact, today I’m on the verge of purchasing a second outlet!’  

The key to Black & White Coffee Cartel’s success has been to turn franchisees into roasters, passionate about their product and communicating that enthusiasm to their customers to turn them into fans. ‘Yes, it is an art,’ says Raphael, ‘and it’s a very satisfying one. Coffee roasters are happy people who have finessed their skill and romance into a profitable career.’

The inspiration for the brand came from France and Italy. ‘All those little street corner cafés are renowned for their coffee, and many have their own roaster inside,’ says Raphael. ‘New Zealand missed out on that culture of absolutely fresh coffee, ground seconds before it is brewed, so Black & White created it afresh. We buy and supply the green coffee beans, and the owners add their magic by roasting in-house, in small batches.

‘This produces not just the freshest coffee on the planet but has big economic advantages – owners are being supplied at pretty much half the price that the big stores with centralised roasting can do, and this equates to a very much better margin on the coffee – on average, adding $25,000 to their bottom line per year.’

Every one is different

‘In stark contrast to the big café franchises present in every town, we set up to be loud, proud and eclectic,’ Raphael states. We currently have 12 outlets, with 7 more due to open by 2022. Each café differs according to the whim of its owner, and although there’s a range of sweet and savoury cabinet foods, the breakfast and lunch menus reflect local tastes. Our cafés vary from 150-200sqm and all have a full kitchen, with cabinet food and menu items made on-site with fresh ingredients. We do not have a strictly defined menu that the owner has to copy – each franchisee has flexibility as long as the standards are kept high and the customers are happy.

‘If you’d like to become your own coffee roaster and own a café with mixed and matched furniture, funky artwork and a divine aroma, there are opportunities throughout the country. Investments start from $350k depending on location and size, and include everything you need – including your own micro-roastery’

‘We have plans in place for all the major centres, so if you think you have an ideal site and share our values, we’d love to hear from you. You don’t need previous experience, just the right attitude and a passion for coffee. In addition to training you in coffee roasting and all the other aspects of running a successful café, we will also find and train all your staff.’

Four years on

After four years as a successful Black & White Coffee Cartel franchisee, and on the verge of becoming a multi-store operator, Irene says she has learned a lot and is ready for more. ‘Micro-roasting makes this business stand out from all the rest, the support from the franchise has been as good as I hoped and I love the buying power, the profitability and the freedom to be creative.

‘If you have a passion for coffee and customer service, talk to Black & White and then go for it. I did, and I know I made the right choice!’   

See this advertorial on page 55 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 30 Issue 4

Contact details for Black & White Coffee Cartel

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