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The History 2013 - 2016
Rabbit Island Coffee Co. started out of a 20 ft shipping container located on the family property close to Rabbit Island, Tasman, New Zealand. Stephen and Ali returned home for the arrival of their first child, Lewis. Having owned a coffee roasting business in Cairns, Australia, since 2010, they felt perfectly positioned to offer something special even through it was in the middle of a paddock! Stephen, also a carpenter turned an side-opening shipping container into compact cafe offering specialty coffee, gourmet milkshakes & sourdough bagels. The container concept enjoyed three long summers until it was time for change in direction, this time to Mapua Wharf as part of the new Shed 4 development which is now the home to Rabbit Island Coffee Co. the roastery. The 'Coffee in a Paddock' is now closed to focus roasting delicious coffee.
Ali has been a barista for many years on and off while also gaining a B.Sc. from University of Canterbury and working the field of environmental science. Its this science background that sparked Ali's passion in understanding the subtleties of coffee aroma & taste and an eventual road back to coffee full-time. Ali has competed in Barista Championships in Queensland and New Zealand and is a qualified Q Grader which requires a difficult 3 day exam in coffee grading and tasting.
Stephen is a qualified carpenter and has been roasting coffee for 10 years, having trained under Tracy Alan (US) and Peter Wolff (AU). Stephen's greatest enjoyment comes from combining building and coffee in any way he can. He has built three container cafes in total, with containers #1 and #2 being purchased for use in Wellington's CBD. Stephen also designed and built the roastery fit-out on Mapua Wharf.
Ali's younger brother Fox worked for Rabbit Island Coffee Co. since its first days in the paddock when he was till at high school. When home in Nelson and not chasing a professional football career, he helps out at the roastery.
Ali's sister, now a nurse, also worked at the container cafe while still studying. She also helps out at the roastery from time to time.
John and Jane
Ali's parents, John and Jane, are currently in a care-taking position for Rabbit Island Coffee Co. while Stephen and Ali attend to their Cairns-based roasting business. Having long been drinkers of only the finest specialty espresso around, they are now embracing the opportunity to learn the roasting side of specialty coffee.