Shamsi Röck began her long-term relationship with coffee 25 years ago, as a teenager working in hospitality. Now, as New Zealand manager of Coffex, she specialises in staff training, equipment sourcing and creating systems with minimal waste, and is lucky enough to have had a career in a field about which she is intensely passionate.
After several years doing general café work, Röck began working for Roasters Coffee, a small company which was one of the earliest coffee houses in Wellington. The owner, Robert Jarray, was a real trailblazer, being the first to bring super-automatic machines to New Zealand.
“He’d roast single origins, and he’d encourage us to play with the coffee and create blends. It was a really good coffee education.”
After a time, the company was bought out by Burton Hollis. As a result, Röck found two new mentors in Frances Hollis and David Burton, two giants of the local coffee industry. She then went on to work for training agency Treehouse, which helped solo mothers on the benefit into jobs.
“We’d empower them to use the skills they had running a household and pair that with basic hospitality and retail skills before assisting them into work,” she explained. “We had a high success rate – I really enjoyed that job.”
When Coffex launched in New Zealand, Röck was approached by an old colleague to act as a territory manager in Wellington, before being promoted to New Zealand manager.
Although Coffex has only been in New Zealand since 2003, next year will mark the Australian-founded Coffex’s 60th anniversary. Röck said that it is the company’s focus on relationships which has seen it stick around for six decades. The Coffex team is ready to go at any time and has developed a reputation for responsiveness, as well as being at the cutting edge of exciting new products, while maintaining their core brand.
“Hospitality is a people industry, and you have to fundamentally like people and be interested in them. Many of my customers have been with me for 15 years, and they’re like family.”
With Coffex a sponsor of the 2019 Vitasoy Espress Yourself Latte Art Competiton, Röck will also be serving as a judge at the live latte art competition? So what will she be looking out for?
“Three things; contrast, control and a spirit of hospitality. The first two are obvious – getting a good contrast between light and dark, and creating a crisp pattern – but what I want to see is a real connection between the competitor and the judges. Sam [Low, winner of Vitasoy Espress Yourself in 2019] really stood out in that regard, and that’s the kind of attitude we’ll be looking for in our winner.”
The intricacies of coffee are what keeps Röck in the game, even after two and a half decades.
“It’s the perfect marriage of art and science.”