It Takes A Village: John Chapman on Moving A Coffee Roasting Company / by Connor Pearce - Photography Toni Veziris


Perhaps more than most, head of machine maintenance, John Chapman, knows what it takes to move an entire coffee roasting operation from one location to another, even if it is only around the corner. While we tried to make the move as smooth as possible, a lot of work went into making that happen behind the scenes and it is testament to the work of John and the rest of the Black Drum team that it was pulled off to the degree of success that it was.

Not one to mince words, John described the circumstances of the move as “horrible … there hasn't been a good, easy day since.”

Unlike other food and beverage manufacturing processes, roasting coffee depends not only on the machinery itself, but the set up and flow of air in the space it is in. Due to the requirements for consistent airflow to roast the beans, no site is the same, and the intricacies of each warehouse must be taken into account.

Transitioning from the old site at Bessemer Street to our new location at Carnegie Place was no exception.

“The structure of the space is a big one,” John highlighted, “you'll see the racking are all different places.”

With the size of Black Drum Roasters’ operations, things were not going to get any easier. Taking three roasters, our Propac, Comunetti and Smart Weigh pacakaging processes and all of the associated equipment was no simple task.

To ensure that coffee was still being delivered on time, Simon Cunliffe-Jones, our head roaster, and Joel Minnich have been working literally around the clock to make sure that bags of coffee were still getting to cafes at the right time.

“Simon's had to roast at three in the morning, two in the morning, he's done overnight roasts,” recalled John.

What has kept the team going has been the equal dedication seen across the factory floor, something that John has noted throughout.

“The people that have been in the move, as in Simon, Scott [Jones], myself, Caroline [Rule]has been really good, have just done whatever it took to get things done, to get stuff out for the customers.”

As production lines are finalised at Carnegie Place, things are starting to settle into a routine.

“I feel it today, it's kind of slowing down,” said John. “[Back] to a normal kind of pace.”

As Christmas and the end of the year is starting to look that little bit closer, we are making sure our team who have seen us through this year and particularly the last couple of months, know that their hard work and dedication will be recognised.