Member Profile – Jeremy Green – Unknown Chapter

Event Date: 15th December, 2017

Jeremy Green, Co-owner Unknown Chapter

Interview by Alex Casserly

With a growing city and cafe scene in Christchurch, we interview Jeremy Green from member company Unknown Chapter on his journey to opening his new cafe/roastery in the heart of the city.

So Jeremy, tell us a little bit of your background in coffee and where it all started?

My parents have owned cafes basically since I was born so I grew up working in cafes for as long as I can remember. I’d be working shifts on my weekends and school holidays and eventually learning to make coffees behind the machine at the ripe age of 14. After learning my trade I jumped across the ditch to Australia where I started working in a roastery. We all know how hard it can be starting at this level in a roastery so it was like having to start at the bottom again. I began by bagging and dispatching coffee before being able to play with some of the bigger toys. With some experience under my belt, I came home to open my first cafe in Queenstown before eventually selling and moving over to London, then Amsterdam.

What did you learn from your years in Europe?

To be honest, I learned a lot more than I thought I would. When I first moved over I thought I was a big dog and that the coffee scene was going to be a little bit average. This became a very quick reality check when I landed on my feet in a job at nude espresso in London and had to essentially start back at square one – not even being able to touch the machine for a good two months. The level of consistent quality was such a great experience. From individually weighing in and out each espresso shot, to the high level of latte art, it was something I had never experienced before. From London I jumped to Amsterdam, to work for a roastery called Lot 61. My time here exposed me to a whole different variety of coffees and styles from production roasting, through Geisha and 90plus coffee. The owner gave us plenty of room to do what we needed to do with the coffee.

What made you want to come home and more specifically start in Christchurch?

I wasn’t really planning on coming home just yet. I was here on holiday and just had a feeling that I can’t explain about the city, it had a vibrancy to it I guess. People may not be able to see it just yet, but I believe that this is going to be one of the great cities of New Zealand in the next five or so years. We wanted to be here from the start.

What makes Unknown Chapter, Unknown Chapter?

Well to start with we are not trying to re-invent the wheel. The level of coffee in New Zealand is really high across the board so we are keeping to those high consistent standards and by just doing what we do. If you were to go and buy a head of broccoli or an orange from the supermarket you know where that has come from, but why does this so often not happen with coffee? So we want to be able to communicate this to our customers. This is part of the reason why our house coffee is currently a single origin from Brazil Sitio Vidigal and not a blend. For us what good is it having five different coffees in our blend if we can’t tell where the beans are all coming from. 

How are you finding the competition and density of the coffee scene in Christchurch?

It’s great! It’s not like a cutthroat kind of competition you may find in other parts of the world. We all tend to work side by side instead of against each other. For instance, we work with MTC and Crafted Coffee Company with our green coffee and also in conjunction with the team at The Sailor’s Son as well as Embassy Coffee just to name a few. Everyone just does what they do well.

Many thanks again to Jeremy for sharing his story with us.