New Zealand Barista Champs 2023

Mike Tan

I recently dusted off the competition tamper, ironed my apron, found a super crazy coffee and after 5-years decided to get back into competing in the New Zealand Barista Championship. Since my last time competing in 2017, the barista champs has always been on my mind every year and getting back on stage was always a goal of mine. This year I took the plunge and I got back into competing making the decision at the start of 2023. I actually found a coffee in 2022 with plans to enter that year which never eventuated. In 2023, the coffee was only getting better with age and after taking a holiday over New Year’s I came back refreshed and ready to focus on another challenge. Previous Experience Competing This year was my 4th year competing and every single year of competition has been a huge learning curve. My first year of competition was an introduction to what the championship was about. I was new to the coffee industry, passionate but lacking experience. The second year enabled me to understand the playing field, source a coffee with a story and create good presentation skills to gain a place in the semi-finals. My third year of competition made me hungry for a place in the finals and was my most creative year competing. I designed a device to maintain moisture and humidity of my coffee beans in which I presented a theme about coffee consistency which earned my 4th place. Each year has been a new learning experience not just for the competition scene but for coffee, hospitality and presentation skills that are applied in my personal and professional life.


NZ Barista Champs


Why I compete?

Most competitor’s including myself say we compete every year for the experience and the constant growth of our development as a coffee professional. I feel this reason alone is a great reason for anyone that wants to take their career to next level. Every year of competition is an enormous amount of growth and learning. Not only competition/stage growth but overall coffee knowledge and practical skills growth that can be directly or indirectly applied to our day jobs. For myself, some examples are the way I describe and talk about coffee and some of the training methods I apply on my students. The competition scene forces you to go to extreme levels to achieve perfection not only with your chosen coffee but with every other variable in between. Another big reason is the people and connections we all get to experience. Every year of competition equals new connections, new friends and sometimes even new (happy usually) tears along the way. The coffee community is small in New Zealand and filled with passionate, knowledgeable and fun people making things like competitions a joy to be part of. Every year is filled with an amazing group of competitors, volunteers and judges whom make the journey more fun, more interesting and include more laughs.


This year I created a routine with less technical innovation compared to my concept in 2017 but I placed more emphasis on my coffee and my message through my presentation. I sourced a coffee through Coffee Tech and ended up choosing a natural processed coffee from Geisha Village in Ethiopia. This particular coffee was special due to its innovative fermentation method that uses a juice as the main ingredient in the fermentation made up of a complete separate lot of coffee cherry’s. I was extremely happy with the sensory components of this coffee and found distinctive flavours of fermented pineapple and guava. My routine heavily discussed fermentation and the unique process of this coffee and I also included the concept of hospitality and the ability for us as barista’s to offer a new sensory experience as a means for progressing the industry. During the preliminary round I finished my routine on a high note and apart from walking into (and knocking over) my dump box on stage I was happy with my performance. During the finals routine I slipped on a few technical points but I had more confidence in my coffee. I ended up walking away from the championship with 2nd place which is a great achievement and accomplishment.


Premium Coffee

Congratulations to our New Zealand Barista Champion Honoka Kawashima who will be representing NZ on the world stage in 2024. Honoka is an outstanding representative for New Zealand and it’s been an honour to be competing with such talent.


Thanks… My first thanks goes out to my customer’s and my team. Without you I wouldn’t have coffee to sell and a team to work with. My customer’s and my team allows me to live my dream of making and working with coffee on an daily basis. Hanna Terramoto and Alan Zuo from Coffee Tech have been my friend, inspiration and guidance not just through this competition but through a big part of my coffee journey in general. I also owe thanks to my family whom have helped and supported me along the way.

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Indian Monsoon Malabar

Mike Tan

This is a coffee we’ve stocked in our retail store since day one and I must admit it was initially one of those coffee’s that I wasn’t too sure on at the beginning.  As per normal with our stock levels, sometimes we have a certain single origin or blend that runs out and we refer customers to the closest alternative.  The problem with a coffee like Malabar is that there is no other coffee remotely similar in our range.  The Monsoon Malabar was also always one of the coffee’s that we couldn’t run out of.  Why?

I quickly learned that Monsoon Malabar drinkers are very loyal and won’t settle for an alternative.


Low acidity coffee

Why is Monsoon Malabar so unique?

It’s flavour, processing method and even its appearance is very different to other coffee.

The raw beans of most coffee are green in colour and the Monsoon Malabar is yellow.  It is also slightly larger in physical size than most other raw beans and it is a lot less dense.  This means that with the same volume of raw beans, the Malabar takes up more space.



The Monsooned Malabar coffee is often regarded as the lowest acidic coffee in the world.  This poses many advantages for those looking for a coffee with lower acidity to align with a higher alkaline diet.  We are unable to guarantee the PH of the Malabar due to the water being used to brew the coffee having a big factor on the final PH of the coffee.



I often say to people looking at this coffee that it is one that people either love or hate.  Its aroma is very distinct and a fair representation of the cup and I often refer to the aroma as malt and slightly burnt caramel.

With an extremely low acidity, the Malabar has a big bold flavour profile.  We roast this coffee reasonably light to bring out its natural malt sweetness, similar to that of a malt biscuit.  It also has hints of spice, rustic nutty tones and a chocolate/malt sweetness.

Monsoon Malabar



The processing method of the Malabar is extremely unique and unlike any other coffee.  Once the cherries have been picked, it is sun-dried in allocated areas.  The dried beans then get seasoned and divided into quality selections of A or AA.

From here, the beans are now stored and protected until the beginning of the monsoon season in India.  This season occurs from June to September and the raw beans are exposed to the winds and humidity of the Indian coast for a total of 3-4 months.  After the season is over the beans get transferred to an open warehouse with ventilation for 12 – 16 weeks.

During the time the beans are left in the Monsooned winds, there is still a reasonable amount of labour involved to spread, rake turn the coffee at regular intervals to ensure evenness.  The beans absorb moisture from the wet sea winds causing them to swell hence their large physical size.  This also regulates the PH of the coffee as they turn into a golden yellow.


Low acidity coffee


Malabar at Meebz

The time I am writing this blog post is when our new shipment arrives after being out of stock for almost 2-months.  We were unable to find any coffee wholesalers with raw beans of the Malabar so we requested a special order.

Our latest Malabar is from the recent harvest and is the highest-grade Malabar available (AA).  Unfortunately like many things, the cost of the raw beans has increased and we have also had to increase its price.

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Introducing Our Coffee Roasting Machines

Mike Tan
We discuss our new line-up of roasting machines including their place, design and function.

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Our Harvest From Ethiopia

Mike Tan

Late last year we landed a shared container of fresh new harvests from Ethiopia.  The coffee is from the Sidamo and Guji region of Ethiopia and consists of four different naturally processed coffee’s and three washed.

Ethiopian coffee is renowned for their bright flavour profile, often with a floral acidity, complexity and sweetness.  Ethiopia places a large role in our coffee selection and is used in many of our blends such as our popular Meebz Blend. 

Ethiopia Coffee


This container was sourced from the Tracon Coffee FDT Program.  FDT stands for Farmer Direct Traceability which is a program that focuses on the traceability from farm to cup utilising GPS coordination.  The cherry’s from each individual farm are identified by codes which passes the fermentation, washing, drying and other processes.  The rest of the production process is carried out individually and the final product is promoted with the farmer’s name easily tracked.

Ethiopia Coffee

Tracon is the first company in Ethiopia that has started the FDT program with more than 300 FDT program members.  Each farm has their own traceability system that allows the growers to track the produce from the field to the buyer.  One of the goals of the FDT program is to create relationships between the coffee farmer and the end consumer.  This helps to acknowledge the individual farmers and award them.  This tremendous step of traceability is a win-win situation for both farmers and the end consumer as its increased accountability and flow of information rewards the farmers for good coffee.

Ethiopia Sidamo Coffee

A large proportion of this harvest will be used in our blends this year with the remainder to be roasted for filter.  We’re thrilled to land this container as coffee from Ethiopia has been difficult to source due to many current issues in the country including a civil war.  Ethiopia plays an important role in many of our blends and its unique characteristics make it one of our favourite coffee growing regions.  One of our picks from this container is an awarding winning Ethiopian from the Cup Of Excellence.  This spectacular coffee will be available near the end of 2022 and we can’t wait to share it with you.

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Our New Compostable Packaging

Mike Tan

By now you have probably got your hands on one of our latest compostable coffee bags and we’re proud to announce that we have completed the print line of this new packaging.

Coffee packaging has proven to be a more difficult option to produce compostable bags primarily due to the one-way valves fitted and bag durability.  Our compostable bags are proudly 100% PLA based meaning the valve fitted to the bag is also compostable.

Compostable packaging is a step forward in our efforts to be a more sustainable business to reduce the impact of our business practices on the environment along with a conscious effort in business ethics.  For a number of years now all our cups and lids are made of PLA meaning they are produced with no plastic and instead use sources such as wood chips, straw, vegetable fats/oils and plant material.  Our environmental conscious efforts extend to our courier bags, label roll paper, paperless accounting system and programs to recycle our coffee sacks and coffee grinds.

Our new print line is for our smaller 250g and 500g sized bags.  Our 1kg bags remain as Kraft paper and this is because of durability issues with the larger bags.  Our manufacture advised that the PLA bags were not as durable and rip easier due to the softer material of PLA.  Our new compostable packaging accounts for over 95% of our smaller bags that leave our doors but we have stocked some of our older foil bags for situations that require it such as overseas orders.

Compostable Packaging

Our new packaging is better for the environment and contains no plastic but does come with its inherent downsides.  We’re proud that we managed to remove 100% of the plastic on the bag but this does leave us with a bag that is not resealable.  The compostable bags can be opened by tearing the seam but do not have a ziptie to reseal.  We advise closing the bag by using a peg or a tool for resealing packaging that we sell in-store or online here.  Alternatively, another option is to transfer the coffee into a sealed container such as a snap-lock container with an airtight seal or our vacuum containers that we stock here.

We have also noticed that these bags are not as durable as the plastic option for obvious reasons.  Occasionally we have had situations where the bags tear a lot easier but this is generally when they are being sent through the courier.  We feel that the environmental benefits of our new packaging outweigh their downsides.

The packaging is certified compostable by OK COMPOST EN13432.  This certification is labelled and guaranteed as biodegradable in an industrial composting plant.  This certification applies to all components of the packaging including the components, inks and additives.  More information on the OK COMPOST certification can be found here.



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Our New Space @ 157 Symonds Street

Mike Tan

We’re proud to announce that we have opened up a new space located at the top of Auckland City in Eden Terrace.  Our new premises goes in hand with the arrival of a brand new coffee roaster. 

The new space started as an idea while exploring options of upgrading our existing coffee roaster.  Over the last year, we felt our roasting operations could be more efficient and started exploring different ideas.  We decided that not only did we require a roaster with more capacity but also a smaller roaster would bring us tremendous value experimenting further with high end exotic coffees.  The aim with a new premises was to create a space that would allow us to comfortably exercise our systems to roast coffee, pack and label coffee, quality control, development and cupping.  Although our new premises is not large by any means, we have designed it in a way that it flows with dedicated areas and machinery to achieve our objectives.  Our focus is still to remain a boutique business by roasting high quality and exciting coffee in small batches for our café partners and retail customers.

 Auckland Coffee Supplier

Our new space will operate as an espresso bar, bean store, takeaway coffee outlet and as our main roastery.

We’ll cover more detail in a separate blog post of our new roaster but after countless discussions and research we chose to opt for a US based Loring Smart Roast coffee roaster.  Our space also welcomes a colour sorter.  This is an AI self-learning machine with full-colour imaging to sort any defects found in roasted coffee.  After coffee passes through the colour sorter it is sent to an automatic packer that weighs and fills our bags and then finally sent to a heat sealer with vacuum and nitrogen packing technology.  We also house our other Quality Control tools including a moisture and density meter, water activity meter, sample roaster and colour analyser.


The site took us a long 9-months to build with delays in freight for our roaster and severe delays in completing part of the fitout.  As a small business owner, I carried out all of the work that I could with the help of my family and team.  This included most of the design.

The design retains the simplistic, minimal, white look of Meebz but brings in some industrial aspects with some touches of nature with the use of greenery.  The lighting helps our white walls and furniture pop thanks for a set of LED strips lined around the corner of the ceilings.  The counter features five dangling edison bulbs that gives some yellow contrast to the white counter.  We chose to stick a neon sign on the wall besides our roaster that reads ‘Are We Awake Yet’.  We picked this sign for its subtle humour along with its scope for a vast range of meanings.

 Auckland City Coffee

The small space is split into three different areas that include espresso bar and seating, roasting and packing and a storage and office room.  Each area is carefully designed to make effective use of the small space and to segregate the work areas.  Our Milford shop did not have this segregation which proved to be difficult as our volume increased. 

 As an espresso bar, we were lucky enough to design this space from scratch so picked a long-elongated counter that our La Marzocco Strada sits on.  Besides the Strada we have a gravimetric Mythos Two with a built in PUQ press for our house blend along with a white EK43 for filter and single origin espresso.  With a long counter, we have a dedicated area for pour-over brews with V60’s sitting on stands with scales. 

We built a serving window into the window glazing that will allow us to serve takeaway coffee for people on the fly.

 Auckland Coffee Roaster

As parking is limited, our espresso bar will serve the local businesses, residents and foot traffic within its vicinity.  Our short hours are designed to allow us to close the doors after lunch to continue with our roasting operations.  For our latest opening hours please click here and we look forward to having a coffee with you at our new space.

Auckland Coffee Roaster

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Our Harvest From Brazil

Mike Tan

Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world and it is an origin that plays an important role in many coffee roasters green bean inventory.  A coffee from Brazil is typically known to exhibit chocolatey, low acid, nutty and sweet flavour notes with a good body.  These flavour notes are only a stereotypical reference of Brazil coffee and this changes drastically depending on elevation, variety, processing method, region and farm.

Brazil Coffee


We use Brazil coffee as a base for some of our blends and also offer it as a single origin dark roast.  Over the last few years our sources from Brazil have been from larger cooperatives or a collection of larger farms generally from the Cerrado region. 

As a coffee roaster, we have evolved over the years with attempts to source the best coffee we can.  With the help of our importer, we secured a harvest from a specialty coffee farm in Brazil.  This farm was first introduced to us in early 2019.  We trialled some of their coffee in our Meebz Blend and were getting an increase in sweetness without losing too much body that the Meebz Blend is famous for.  Moving forward, we made a decision to secure our first lot for the next harvest arriving in 2021 and it’s here!


Brazil Coffee Single Origin


For us, the greatest advantage of securing this harvest is consistency.  Not only are we getting better tasting blends but having the consistency of the same coffee allows us to know what we are working with to get the roast profile correct every roast.


Brazil Coffee Single Origin


This lot of Brazil is from a cooperative of farms that is renowned for producing specialty grade arabica coffee of exceptional quality with a distinct profile of excellent sweetness, featuring a balanced body and acidity.  The region in Mogiana is located on a plateau with an altitude of 800 – 1,200 metres being one of the highest cities or the region and the state.



The variety of coffee grown is named ‘Mundo Novo’.  This is the result of a natural cross of the Bourbon and Typica varieties.  It was first discovered in 1943 in Brazil (source). 

This variety is acceptable to many different climates and soil types being more resistant to frost.  It has a good uniformity of ripeness.


Buy Brazil Coffee Single Origin

Sustainability and Ethics

To work with a sustainable and ethical coffee farmer is a crucial component of the selection and is as important as the quality.  Working with this Brazilian estate supports environmental sustainability being one of the first companies to be Rainforest Climate Module Certified in Brazil, along with UTZ and Rainforest Aliance (RFA) certified.  More on RFA and its associated campaigns here.

On an ethical and community level the company seeks a commitment to the socio-cultural development of the community in the form of numerous projects that benefit many people and organisations in the community.  Some of these projects include the support to the Municipal Nursery Alaide Quercia, the Volunteer Program of Farm Workers, Reforestation Project, Family Garden, Environment Conferences and Training Courses for employees and their families.

Brazil Coffee Single Origin


*All photos are from the estate taken by O'Coffee.

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Our New App for Coffee Loyalty

Mike Tan

Earlier this year, we announced our new loyalty scheme for buying beans based on a points system.  As with most café’s, we also offer loyalty cards for hot beverage/coffee purchases within our espresso bar.  In the past, these have traditionally been in the form of a stamp card that you keep in your wallet and accumulate a stamp for each coffee purchased, finally receiving a free coffee after nine coffees have been purchased. 

With our effort to go ‘paperless’ where we can, we are now proud to introduce our own app that collects your stamps/purchases within our iPad in our espresso bar.  This method means that you will never forget your loyalty card and it also saves weight in your wallet from accumulating all those loyalty cards.  It also means that you don’t have to download any app or use your own device, we provide the iPad and the system in our shop.  Your details such as a username or e-mail are saved into a database which is personalised to you (and/or your family).  The system also gives you the option to accumulate and bank your free coffee while you continue to accumulate more points


How To Use the In-store App

This is the standby screen that you see on the iPad while it is placed on the counter.

Coffee Roaster Loyalty

1. After tapping on the screen to get started, enter a username or e-mail address.  This username or e-mail is used for your account.


2. Next, to receive a stamp select the 'register purchase' button.

3. Now add a virtual stamp to your account by clicking on the blank square boxes.  If you have purchased more than one coffee, you can click on multiple blank square box.  Now click 'submit' and you are all done!

BANK: Click here to view your free coffee's.  You can store them in your account while you accumulate more free stamps.

Café Partner? 

If you are one of our café partners using Meebz we are proud to share this platform with you.  Help us to go ‘paperless’ and provide your customers with an innovative approach to loyalty.  Your customer database is exclusive to your café and your app can also be personalized with your own branding and cafe name.

All you need is an iPad and a retail stand and say goodbye to paper loyalty cards.

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New Product – Vacuum Containers

Mike Tan
Our new vacuum containers are designed to preserve the life of coffee beans by creating an air-tight space while pushing out the oxygen inside the container.

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Colombian Diofanor Ruiz - Washed Castillo EF

Mike Tan
Our latest single origin comes from another farm in Colombia implementing the successful Extended Fermentation (EF) technique.

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