Inside it's a hive of activity. Customers are wrapped around a table deciphering the latest crossword while the subtle crackling of freshly roasted beans lends further atmosphere.
Palmy punches well above its weight when it comes to coffee. Ebony Coffee Roastery has been operating since 1996 and owners Brian Holmes and Sally Quantock have been the force behind it all for the past 10 years. Brian jokes roasting 50 per cent science and 50 per cent art. Sally and fellow roaster, Annette, smile - they know there's more to it than that.
On this gloomy, we Wednesday, a deluge of people fills the roastery in search of a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. They don't just come in for the coffee. Some stay for half an hour, chatting with the team; for others, it's simply a happy place for them to be. Brian adds that a friend likens it to "Cheers without beers", referencing the 80s sitcom series.
It's a quirky layout, but it tells a story - from being right next to where the coffee was roasted to being seated behind the baristas, which they admit is uncommon. "It's about being able to see the magic that goes on with the machine," Brian says.
The couple launched an app for customers to download, which they say really came into its own during the first COVID-19 lockdown. Initially, people could only place their coffee orders online. Within days of the lockdown, beans could be ordered through the app too, which was a relief to their customer community.
App use is encouraged, which means there's no excuse for not bringing your reusable cup" and they'll hold your place in the queue. "So as soon as they walk in, we'll start making it." A wall of different types of reusable cups greets you as you enter the roastery.
For keen gardeners, there are reusable buckets of coffee grinds or chaff which their customers can use as free organic fertiliser. Natural coffee sacks for mulching, dog beds or craft projects also have a following by customers with a mind for sustainability. Their single-use cups are commercially compostable and are collected by the Palmerston North City Council. "Ultimately, if we can encourage more people to fall in love with their own reusable cups or take a seat and they then make the change in their daily routine to step away from single-use, all the better."⧉ Story from Palmy Proud >>
A small collection of nondescript tines is perched on the far counter. They look like paint buckets. It's another one of the cool initiatives being used to reduce unecessary waste. Even their local cafe customers are chipping in. Instead of taking the 2kg commerical bags, they fill 4kg or 8kg tins with fresh coffee beans, which are delivered weekly and returned for reuse with the next order. "We'ved reduced our bag use by about 80 per cent," Brian says.
"It's all about doing our bit," Sally explains. "It's not easy sometimes and it's certainly tough with food storage being so regulated, but where we can - we make the change."