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Mathew (Maven Coffee) and Tony (Raglan Roast)

Mathew Johnstone (Maven Coffee) and Tony Bruce (Raglan Roast)

One unexpected bonus of contract coffee roasting is being able to work closely with other coffee roasters as there’s always something we learn from them and, hopefully, them from us. Raglan Roast was no exception. They had us at their tagline – “roasted by animals, tested on humans” – and it’s been a joy ever since.

To go back a step, Raglan Roast began like a scene out of Endless Summer – a coffee machine at the back of a surf shop where locals could congregate over a cuppa and regale each other with stories of waves caught and missed. The first roaster came soon after and was a complete masterclass in Kiwi ingenuity – a learn-by-doing assembly of an old roaster, blow torch, bought and borrowed parts.

Fast forward to 2021 and these guys have got themselves a cult-following and over 10 small, essentially handmade roasters humming all around the country. To keep up with the growing demand, the original co-owners/founders, Tony and Bobo, decided to add a Loring roaster to the fleet. The challenge was – while the Raglan team had perfected their number eight wire approach over the last 20 years, they needed to recreate their coffee on a Loring.

This is where we come in. Maven’s co-founder and coffee man, Mathew Johnstone, spent the first part of his career focused on one brand of coffee at a time with the odd transition from one roaster to another, and the second part working on numerous brands as a contract roaster. By the time we set up Maven, Mathew has experience on all different types of coffees, brands, and roasters – from Probat to Sivetz, Loring to Petrocini, Brombati, Toper etc. – pretty much perfectly set-up to address a contract roasting customer’s number one concern: Can you match my flavour profile?

The answer was yes for Raglan. For each profile Mathew needed to create, the process included research on the origin, analysing samples, followed by roast and cup until the profile is perfected. From there, we’ve been helping Raglan out by roasting regular batches, supporting their smaller fleet of roasters until their own Loring arrives.

When our project with Raglan Roast comes to an end, it’ll be sad to see them go but also satisfying to have helped them expand their roasting operation so they can continue to grow their brand. And the added bonus, what have we learned from them in the process? I’ve always loved the Raglan Roast brand and, after spending some time with Tony, I can now pinpoint the key – authenticity. Tony is Raglan personified, a salty seadog surfer-come-roaster, and absolutely the right man to be standing behind the tagline: Roasted by animals, tested on humans.