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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Havana Coffee Works - By Geoff Marsland and With Tom Scott

 Havana Coffee is a New Zealand institution. In the last twenty five years, Geoff Marsland built a business, a brand and several ways of life around late-night coffee houses, importing Cuban coffee, setting up plantations in the Pacific and bringing Coffee U Feel to the people.

The Havana Coffee Works Story is a biography of a home-grown business, from its beginnings in Cuba Street, Wellington to its current coffee empire status. A visual symphony of cars, cigars, cafes and coffee roasters. It is also a social history of Cuba Street and Wellington over the last three decades, with larger-than-life personalities, guts, determination and turf wars. 

If you’re after an energetic, inspirational business story, this autobiographical work will leave its mark.
After a challenging childhood and some tricky teenage years, Marsland spent his youth at sea on fishing boats and then in the fashion trade, before a visit to Vancouver changed his life for good. ‘Hooked by the aroma of strong coffee’, Marsland returned to New Zealand. In 1989, he opened Midnight Espresso Café and launched real coffee into the bloodstream of Wellington, kickstarting a nationwide cultural revolution around espresso machines and flat whites that continues to this day.

From Cuba Street to the island of Cuba, Marsland and his then business partner decided to buy and roast coffee beans themselves and, armed with a letter from their bank, set off for Havana. As the story goes, years later the son of Fidel Castro, also called Fidel, paid a visit to Marsland in Wellington at the HQ of Havana Coffee Works.What makes this book fun is the small details like nameing the chapters after Kiwi songs like 'Six Months in a Leaky Boat" and 'Take Me To The April Sun In Cuba' (obvious choice) and the intro by Scott himself (who describes his first time in the Havana empire building in Tory St.) This is a book with so many memories.  I personally remember the first year, as I rolled down the hill to Midnight Espresso after my sessions on Radio Active, drinking coffee long into the night and watching the interesting nightlife in Vivian Street (especially the street walkers). 

Packed with personal photos and annecdotes, this gives the full roast on the success of Geoff and the empire that is Havana.

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