At HubBub, we like to keep it local. But when it comes to sourcing the absolute best of the best, we are willing to look outside of our region; in some cases, that search takes us across oceans and continents. One such example is Acme & Co., a New Zealand-based company who - among other things - makes incredibly durable, beautiful ceramic cups and saucers. They are known throughout the specialty coffee world as the highest standard purveyor of espresso and espresso drink-centric dishware. We use Acme cups and saucers at all of our locations - perhaps you've enjoyed the gorgeous, dramatic pop of a latte or cappuccino against the shiny crimson glaze?
Acme was founded by Jeff Kennedy and Bridget Dunn a little less than a decade ago. We admire the empire they've built and the needs throughout our industry that they've so handily met. But we wanted to know more. So we asked their head of marketing Jessica Godfrey a few questions via email, and were delighted to read her responses and learn more about Acme's story.
HubBub: Can you share a little more info about the company's origin story?
Jess: Jeff and Bridget owned a large coffee roasting company called Caffe L'affare. The company roasted about 2.5 tonnes of coffee per day and had a large flagship cafe. In 2006, Jeff and Bridget and another business partner sold the business to a multinational. They just weren't the kind of people to sit doing crosswords all day, so they looked for other things to occupy their time. However, a restraint of trade meant they couldn't roast coffee or open a cafe for several years. And of course, they still loved coffee and the industry, so they looked for other ways to be involved. They invested in a domestic espresso manufacturing company - Rocket Espresso Milano and started up Acme cups.
HubBub: What caused Jeff's shift of focus towards drink ware?
Jess: We imported an Italian brand of cups at Caffe L'affare and had many things we wanted to change - the shape of the handles (too hard to get your fingers in), the fact that we always had an overflow of saucers but couldn't buy the cups separately, the fact that brown and white seemed to be all they produced...Selling Caffe L'affare meant Jeff and Bridget were free to start something up that they had always wanted! And still be a part of the industry in New Zealand.
HubBub: So he was able to create the cups he'd always wanted!
Jess: Yes, and also the universal saucer...three styles of our cups use the same saucer, which means there's none of that wobbling coffee when waiting tables. All these small innovations that actually really resonate with cafe owners.
HubBub: Where did the name Acme come from?
Jess: We pretend it comes from Acme meaning the summit or pinnacle, but really Jeff has always enjoyed Road Runner cartoons - Beep beep!!
HubBub: How do you pick which colors are on offer?
Jess: We have the classics, they were necessary because the manufacturer mentioned above went out of business about a year after Acme started and our cup integrates with that stock pretty well. White is a very necessary colour. Brown isn't very popular actually though we have some great customers using the brown with their own artwork printed on it - Stumptown has gorgeous gold artwork on our brown cup. Otherwise we just chose the colours we liked. The blue came from a masthead in a magazine that we liked a lot.
Grey is our most popular colour - it goes with everything (cafe interiors and the other cup colours) and looks modern and new. A lot of customers mix and match the cups - grey looks amazing with the green, the blue and red. Actually great with white and black too.
HubBub: Can you tell us a little more about your cafe, Prefab?
Jess: Prefab is easily the busiest cafe in Wellington. It's large - 180 seater. And it was busy from day one. That's due to Jeff and Bridget being such industry legends. The coffee is served very quickly - often our customers will have a cup in front of them before they've even ordered. We know everyone's names. And Jeff's 'office' is an area around the roasting where he chats to customers all day. There's a spot for everyone at Prefab whether you want some quiet, want to interact at communal tables, or have a gang of friends. There's really nowhere quite like it anywhere. It's loud and vibrant and chaotic in a really thrilling and fun way.
Also, Prefab has been wonderful for the cups in that it's a test lab for our cups. Boy do they get a thrashing!!
HubBub: You guys must certainly be big coffee drinkers - what are your favorite coffee drinks or methods of preparation?
Jess: We have bottomless filter coffee at Prefab but the truth is we're very espresso-centric still. And flat whites are the most popular drinks on the menu. No one leaves without having at least two coffees!
We hope you enjoyed learning about Acme & Co.'s story as much as we did! Next time you order a drink at HubBub, peek under the cup! You'll see the Acme stamp and hopefully remember all the care, expertise and love of coffee that went into its creation.