Melbourne and New Zealand-based Coffee Supreme have recently acquired Brisbane-based Cup Coffee. In a move that is reminiscent of Blue Bottle’s acquisition of Handsome Coffee Roasters, Cup Coffee is in the process of changing branding and developing into Coffee Supreme’s newest cafe, and their first in Australia outside of Melbourne.
Over the past few years, Brisbane’s coffee scene has been growing and changing: there are more and more boutique roasters popping up and thoughtfully laid out cafes emerging on suburban streets, with a move away from the old-school Italian coffee culture that had previously dominated the market. Opened five years ago, Cup Coffee were one of the original proponents of this new wave of thoughtful coffee roasters, and progressively built themselves a solid reputation for serving delicious coffee to the people of Brisbane. In the years since, owner Josh Russell subsequently expanded to a warehouse in Woolloongabba, which houses a roasting operation, café, and a training space.
The newly formed Brisbane outpost from our partners at Coffee Supreme will be basing itself out of this roastery space in Woolloongabba, with Russell and the original Cup Coffee staff staying at the helm to continue roasting and serving the coffee.
The relationship between the two companies originally began when Russell reached out to Justin Emerson at Supreme during Cup’s infancy for some help regarding troubles with their Slayer espresso machine–after receiving quick help, a friendship was formed. Over the years there were many conversations regarding business advice, and Coffee Supreme’s desire to expand to Brisbane. The subsequent merging of the two companies was a natural progression, according to parties on both sides of the deal.
In an entry on his transparent and beautifully written blog, Josh Russell took the time to pen some of his thoughts regarding his business and the sale thereof. In the entry, he explicates that in the beginning of Cup, it was all about chasing flavour and pursuing great coffee with all sorts of fancy equipment, but now he sees things a bit differently. “Good coffee is much more than how it tastes,” he writes. “Rather, good coffee is strong relationships… it’s putting the people before the product.”
Speaking to Heath Cater, Managing Director at Coffee Supreme in Melbourne, he told me that one the best things about buying Cup is that Josh Russell will be staying on, “…but specialising in what he’s really good at, the hospitality stuff. He’s not really driven by wholesale but we do a really good job of it, so we’ve combined forces in that sense.”
As with any company acquisition, there are often fears that the characteristics that made the original business so amazing in the first place may go astray, but as Heath explained to me, very little is changing for Cup, rather some simple branding and better access to a wide range of high quality green coffee.
According to Russell, the response from Brisbane’s coffee community has been largely positive, mostly due to the fact that very little will be changing. All the coffee will continue to be roasted in house, with their signature ‘Five Star Day’ blend staying on and being absorbed into Supreme’s coffee portfolio. As Russell told me, “I’m keen to keep things really tight between Brisbane and Melbourne in what we do, staying focused on producing really high quality coffee and always improving what we can offer customers.”
This merger is big news for the Brisbane coffee scene, and part of a larger trend of expansion and acquisition that many successful coffee companies across the globe are embarking on.
Eileen P. Kenny is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in Melbourne. Read more Eileen P. Kenny on Sprudge.
All photos by Eileen P. Kenny for Sprudge.com