After many years of extensive overseas travel Neville and Elaine Morgan settled in the mid 1980’s to a career involved in the rapidly developing coffee industry in NZ. Earlier during their travels they had hitch-hiked in the mountains of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador in Central America. There they had first hand experience of some of the best coffee plantations in the world.
Neville joined the management team at Robert Harris Coffee and was actively involved during the 1980’s in establishing the network of Robert Harris Franchise Coffee Shops. These were the days when many coffee shops throughout NZ would only serve instant coffee! It was commonly heard from owners “We can’t risk losing our customers by changing to espresso coffee….they like the Greggs and Nescafe that we have used for years.”
But, change was in the air. Being involved in wholesaling in the years leading up to the 1990’s was an exciting experience. There was a literal revolution that occurred as cafes and restaurants on mass served up their last cups of instant. Customers were getting a taste for the flavours and aromas of espresso that had been enjoyed in the coffee houses of Europe for centuries. The demand for espresso machine installations was phenomenal. NZ cafes had come of age and over the 20 years since, a cafe culture has been established that puts us on the cutting edge of coffee quality and presentation. Many travellers will agree that NZ’s leading cafes serve some of the finest coffee available anywhere in the world.
In 1992 Neville and Elaine established their own coffee wholesale business, based in Wellington. Over the 11 years they owned the business, Caffe Prima established distributors in towns and cities throughout NZ and in Queensland, Australia. In 2001 they started importing Home Coffee Roasters and marketing them with specially blended green bean packs.
Selling the business in 2003 provided them with the opportunity to pursue their other passion of world travel. For the next few years they roamed the world in caravans and campervans. Their son Alan was age 6 when they departed and was schooled by correspondence through the journeys. The highlights were 18 months towing a caravan throughout Australia and in 2007, spending 9 months living in a motorhome during an extensive tour of Europe.
They travelled with their Imex home coffee roaster and an espresso machine. Many interesting friendships were formed sharing coffees around the campfire. Their travels to all parts of the world confirmed just how international the language of coffee has become. Experiencing the diverse ways coffee is prepared and enjoyed in so many different cultures was truly fascinating. From being taught how to brew sweet Arabic coffee in the kitchen of a Jerusalem Hotel to drinking the strong and gritty Greek style coffee served in the cafes of Athens. Experiencing the huge contrast between the demitasse “short black” from a Pizzeria in Rome and the bottomless cup house filter poured in Howard Johnstons’ Restaurants across America. Neville and Elaine drank in cafes in places as diverse as north of the Arctic Circle in Finland, the Middle East, Caribbean and Tasmania. They gained an appreciation of the variety of ways coffee is served and enjoyed worldwide.
When the Morgans returned to NZ in 2008 they purchased a restaurant near Wellington and refitted it as a Gourmet Coffee Cafe known as Bean Zone. From that base they once again began wholesaling fresh coffee and coffee equipment. The Bean Zone range of blends was inspired by their years of travel and passion to share some of the best coffees available. In 2009 Neville and Elaine relocated to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty where they continued to expand Bean Zone Gourmet Coffee. Their business grew with over 80 restaurants and cafes from Coromandel to Opotiki being supplied with coffee, equipment servicing and barista training.
In 2013 Neville and Elaine attended a world coffee exhibition in Boston which included the US Barista Championships. At the show they researched a number of options and have since commenced importing a wide selection of Italian domestic and commercial espresso machines. This equipment along with their imported range of coffee accessories has enabled them to establish a new business “Espresso Stuff”. Early in 2014 they sold Bean Zone their coffee distribution business and can now concentrate on marketing the coffee equipment and continue developing barista training activities in cafes and schools.