Throwback: Good coffee is for "bankers"
Throwback to a 2013 interview with Nick Clark from Flight Coffee
This is a repost from 2013 - a part of my slow but steady migration of the lost posts of The Magic Roast over to Substack.
This one is an interview with Flight Coffee’s Nick Clark (@nickclarkflightcoffee on Instagram), following a story on TVNZ’s Seven Sharp that was a proper piss take, basically claiming that specialty coffee was for “bankers”. Clever. See what they did there?
Unfortunately the story doesn’t exist online anymore, and TVNZ were going to charge me $70 for the video clip, for personal use only…
However, they did send me a transcript and the story opens with the following exchange:
Nick Clark: The most expensive we've sold would've been $12 for an espresso $12 $12 which is like pretty crazy right? But we had it sold out within a week yeah yeah which is fantastic.
Seven Sharp: Nick’s coffee shop sold the equivalent of 405 cups of that black gold. Cha ching. But what kind of person pays the minimum wage for a caffeine hit?!
Nick Clark: They'll be the people who're lining up for the new i phone to come out or I dunno the new the new mac or the new tv or something along those lines.
Heather duPlessis-Allan: but you've just described people who are um...A WORD THAT RHYMES WITH BANKERS
I found the Facebook post from when they did the story - and the comments are amazing (still, no video).
So, that was the opening of the story that took a look at the specialty coffee scene in Wellington back in 2013. Check out what I had to say about that with my follow up interview with Nick below.
While you’re here, Buy me a coffee! It’s an easy way to support The Magic Roast - a blog that reposts old content instead of writing new stuff. JK.
Good coffee is for "bankers"
“Could you justify spending over $10 for a cup of coffee?” That was the question posed by Seven Sharp in a recent piece by Heather de Plessis-Allan on the price of coffee.
They interview Nick Clark** from Flight Coffee in Wellington about expensive coffee, with the story concluding the expensive coffee is for, um, ‘bankers’...
Just let that sink in.
If you like coffee, good coffee, you are a bit of a ‘banker’.
While I’m sure there are people out there who would spend $15 on a cup of Kenyan goodness, just to let people know that they can, the vast majority of these people don’t spend this much dough for the sake of ‘banking’ on. Most people would fork out the dosh to have a great tasting cup of coffee, which is a great experience, and one they can enjoy.
What gets me, and others angry, is the one-sided nature of the article. Seems a bit rough to call people who love good coffee ‘bankers’, without at least explaining why certain coffee is so expensive. Sure she has a brief consideration about why it is that expensive, but only briefly and only focuses on the location of the coffee – i.e. coffee from a small coffee lot is more expensive that coffee sold from a larger farm.
This actually doesn’t explain what it is about the coffee that makes it more expensive and is a loose justification for calling people ‘bankers’ on prime time tv.
I’ll throw a question out there – is good and expensive coffee for the realms of dickheads who just want to look cool? I don’t think so but to get an educated opinion, I had a chat with Nick from Flight Coffee in Wellington, and asked him a few questions.
I talk to Nick Clark
The Magic Roast: The specialty coffee market seems to be in the same place now  that the specialty wine market was 15/20 years ago, with a stigma seemingly associated with those who are willing to pay more for a better experience. How is joe public reacting to the current boom in the coffee market, and do you see it moving in the same direction as the wine market?
Nick Clark: Yes, the wine analogy is dropped often when this subject is talked about. It's interesting, what’s happened is that majority of the market (middle of the bell curb) is still very much the same, there is still a lot of cheap coffee out there for people who want it.
We're in a slightly different market, one that I'd compare to craft beer which is currently booming! The product is better quality so naturally demands a higher price. Consumers are becoming more aware and curious about what they're drinking which leads them to becoming more and more educated and understanding and exploring different qualities.
The great thing about Specialty Coffee is that the proof is in the cup, once you start to be open to the idea of different flavours and exploring quality it just comes down to if you like it or not.
There will always be a market for all tiers of quality for coffee, the same there is for wine and the same there is for beer, but I do think that Specialty Coffee is on the rise and we'll be seeing a lot more of in the future.
TMR: Where do you think the stigma, which was pushed by the Seven Sharp story, is coming from? Is it a lack of education on coffee and what is on offer, or are people a little frightened to embrace something a little new and different?
NC: I'd say a bit of both. There is a huge lack of education in the marketplace; Specialty Coffee is still relatively new to the market place so naturally people are still discovering what it is. And then there’s the concept of change, majority of people fight and/or dislike the idea of change.
TMR: Who are your customers – who is buying the more expensive coffees, like the current Kenyan, which is selling for $120/kg? Is it a cross-section of society or just restricted to the higher echelons of the public?
NC: We get a good mix of customers ordering it. We actually sold most of this on pre-order which we were pretty happy with. I guess foodies would be an accurate way to describe these people, people who are into the quality of what they're eating and drinking.
DISCLAIMER: The first part of this is chat is totally legit. Now the next bit is a little one-sided against the team at Seven Sharp. This is totally because of the angle of my questions – and I accept that some may find this article as one-sided as their story. That’s all me, and not due to Nick. However his answers are pretty straight up, and good on him for that!
TMR: The angle of the recent Seven Sharp story was very one-sided, with the conclusion seemingly that good coffee is for “bankers” – how have customers and people in the industry like yourself reacted to the Seven Sharp story?
NC: I think the most important thing to note is that Specialty coffee isn't for everyone and that's cool. Some people just aren't worried about the quality of what they're eating and drinking and are not interested in where it comes from and the process [involved].
TMR: Do you think the story will stop people from trying new coffee and new experiences after seeing the story?
NC: It will stop some but what can you do? Again, it's not for everyone.
TMR: It certainly appears that you were ambushed by Heather de Plessis-Allan, where you aware at the time the angle she was looking at taking?
NC: Yeah, I guess you could call it an ambush. No, I wasn't aware of the angle. We're not worried about, we knew that placing ourselves in a market which is what we consider to be high-end we would naturally be the target of things like this.
TMR: Did you get a chance to review the story before it went out?
TMR: Have you heard from or tried to contact Seven Sharp since the story aired?
NC: They were in touch as they received a lot of complaints, not from us but from our customers and friends who were outraged and wanted to, I guess, let them know their thoughts.
TMR: For those new to coffee, or at least new to the non-instant Greggs type coffee, where do you recommend they start?
NC: First of all, just be open to new ideas and trying new things. From there, pop down to a cafe that you know does a good job or has been recommended to you by a friend. Talk to the barista and ask them, "what do you recommend?" Try espresso with milk, try espresso as espresso, try filter coffee and ask your local roaster if you can cup coffee with them. Pretty much, just get involved!!
That Nick man is a legend. It’s credit to the man, and the team at Flight, to take the Seven Sharp story as well as they, and to have the time to have a chat to me about this.
** Nick is a barista and one of the men behind Flight Coffee in Wellington. To say Nick is a barista is down playing him a bit. I should say, Nick is the fifth best barista on the PLANET (earth that is). Check him out here: http://flightcoffee.co.nz/blogs/news/8035567-nicks-final-word-on-coming-5th-in-the-world