Led by Derek Townsend, the coffee fanatic behind the legendary DKD and the inventor of the flat white, The United Blend is the new online store to house the various coffee blends roasted by the Karajoz Coffee Company.
This is his story:
In 1980 a very young Derek Townsend went travelling through Europe.
What really stuck in his mind was the café society in Europe, Italy and France in particular.
Being politically motivated with a socialist bent he couldn’t help but be inspired by the great leveller of the neighbourhood café. A meeting place which was inexpensive and not based around getting blotto on alcohol. A place of ideas and conversation.
When he arrived back in NZ he was burning with the idea to set up his interpretation of the European Café.
Auckland at this time was still influenced by the 6 o’clock closing culture. It was a bit like living in the wild west. Drinking and fighting being the norm.
He was also always fascinated by the Italian Restaurant in Victoria St, with its almost mystical La Cimbali Espresso machine and the friendship of the middle aged owner Atillio, heady stuff for a North Shore youth.
The very first real modern café John’s Diner (owned by the artist John Reynolds ) opened around this time, short lived but bristling with energy. It still didn’t quite get the coffee right which is the real lifeblood for the café ,the reason to visit day after day or multi times daily!
The first step was to contact Atillio and ask some advice. Unfortunately he had passed on and the shop was now owned by Eduardo, who upon questioning as regards to the fate of the LaCimbali casually said it was under his house.
Long story short a deal was struck and ownership passed to Derek.
The next move was to find premises which a friend Ken Neale came to the rescue as he had a lease on a disused space that was part of the Civic Theatre. Nine months of working 7 days and nights per week and the DKD Café was born. Perhaps the first real European Café in NZ based very much around great coffee and cake.
DKD café ran for around 17 years and it would be fair to say “life passed through its doors”.
Derek then in 1993 opened Café Extreme in Newmarket which was perhaps the busiest café in the world at this time! A real achievement of the original dream of a meeting place of all types and ages with respect for each other.
Why was it so busy ?
A big part had to be placed on the fanaticism placed on coffee quality. People really did come from miles around to have their special brew, as poured by very skilled baristas using two 4 group 1970 FAEMA manual espresso machines.
It became apparent that the roasted beans could be much better, coffee at that time being always quite acidic.
So Derek went to Europe bought the best roaster possible, trained under a 70 year old roast master and having made more coffees than anyone else in the country (stopped counting at 2 million) came up with a new style of blend with the radical concept that it should taste delicious.
Chocolate, nutty, smooth, rich but with a good flavour and Karajoz was born. The same fanaticism is expected today and we believe you can taste the difference!