The team keeping the machines warm and the coffee on point at our new coffee bar in Commercial Bay joined the wider Kōkako family in some rather unusual circumstances — in the midst of a pandemic and right before New Zealand went into lockdown. The path to Kōkako Commercial Bay's opening day chopped and changed in front of them but the new team stuck together and joined our wider roastery team (from a distance) in tasks that weren't exactly in their job descriptions as we all muddled through Levels 4, 3 and 2. They are an incredible bunch and it's our pleasure to introduce them to you over the coming weeks.
First off, meet Jo. Aspiring coffee roaster, incredible latte artist (he has a pegasus and Plankton from Spongebob in his repertoire) and street dancer since 18 — part of the Freshmans Dance Crew, Oa Army, and the YNBBG Krump families. Dance is his home away from home.
What is your first memory of coffee?
I remember ordering a cappuccino at a local doughnut shop when I was about 6 thinking that it would be the same as the cappuccino flavoured ice cream. Took one sip and I nearly spat it all out! Little did I know that I would be so involved and in love with the coffee industry.
What do you love most about working in the coffee industry?
As cheesy as it sounds, it's when I see a customer's content and happy face when they take the first sip of a cup I made them.
On the geeky side of things, I absolutely love everything about coffee. Different brewing techniques to the different types of beans and different roast profiles – they all taste so different! It's just a never-ending learning experience!
And how did you end up working with coffee?
It was actually my first job back in high school. I used to work in a little canteen at the badminton courts just off Tristram Ave which had a single group machine back then. At the same time, I took a crash course from a friend who worked at Columbus on the basics of coffee making. The rest is history as they say.
Where were you before you joined the Kōkako team?
Generosity Coffee. Working as a barista and I was also learning how to roast.
And what made you want to work with us at Commercial Bay?
I think it's because there's a good combination of all things in the brewing side of coffee. From espresso, to soft brew to Nitro Cold Brew. I hope to hone my skills and knowledge working here at Kōkako.
Best coffee moment to date?
When my girlfriend and I decided to go to the coffee festival about 3 years ago. It was our first one and it really opened my eyes to the kinds of coffee that are available. Needless to say, we were VERY caffeinated by the end of the day.
If you could use only one piece of brewing equipment for the rest of your life, what would that be?
V60 or Aeropress. Hard to decide!
What coffee have you been enjoying lately?
I recently was given some coffee roasted back in the Philippines by a roastery named Chapter Coffee Roastery. It's an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe called "Misty Valley" with raspberry, lemon and floral notes. Delish!
Your favourite drink, when not drinking coffee?
I love drinking the odd Old Fashioned from time to time.
And when you’re not pulling shots, what will we find you doing?
At a dance studio rehearsing for a performance or competition.