Meet the Team


Ali, Steve (& Lewis) 

Ali and Steve tossed secure careers to the side to co-found a coffee roasting business in a Cairns inner-industrial suburb in 2010. White Whale has allowed Ali to practice her philanthropic ideals and design a business geared towards making a positive difference to people, communities and the environment through coffee . However, this was only possible with husband Steve. A craftsman at heart, Steve carved out a career as a carpenter in his 20s before discovering the art of coffee roasting in his 30s. Steve pioneered specialty roasting in Cairns and has nurtured the industry in North QLD ever since. Steve now enjoys mentoring up-and-coming roasters, assisting café owners to perfect their fit-outs, and dedicating time to personal building projects. A former Q-grader and a NZ and QLD barista championship competitor, Ali certainly knows coffee. These days, Ali draws upon her Bachelor of Science training and business aptitude to drive White Whale to become the best in its class, and deliver on its core value, Coffee That Does Good. Lewis joined the family (and business) in 2013 and is eager to contribute. You may see him taking orders and sharpening his customer service skills during the school holidays.

Operations Manager

Romano boasts 15 years of experience working in specialty coffee, including over a decade spent at leading coffee establishments in Sydney. A jack of all trades, Romano’s roles have ranged from recruitment, training, green bean buying, product development and human resources. As a café owner himself, Romano truly understands the ins and outs of running a small business. With a sophisticated palette and a nurturing approach to people management, Romano oversees the everyday operations of our roastery and team.



Business Development

James knows White Whale like the back of his hand, having worked across almost every area of the business. Armed with a Masters in International Development and over 5 years in specialty coffee in New Zealand and Australia, James synergises his experiences in coffee with his love of relationship building, research and writing to strategically steer the White Whale brand. James is responsible for tackling the list of behind-the-scenes projects, seeking out and managing new business enquiries, and helping to ensure our new café supply partners feel supported throughout the onboarding process.


Training & Accounts

Donna has amassed over 18 years in specialty coffee, with time spent in the thick of Melbourne, Brisbane, and London’s coffee scenes. Over the last decade, Donna has held training and account management roles at some of Australia’s coffee ‘big boys’ and possesses a wealth of worldly coffee knowledge gathered from origin trips and cupping courses abroad. Donna’s genuine and caring approach to specialty coffee training and support makes her the perfect candidate to guide our café supply partners through each step of their coffee journey.


Off the back of a career in Japan and Australia's marketing industry spanning over two decades (he's older than he looks!), Jun turned his passion for drinking coffee into roasting it. Under the mentorship of White Whale co-owner Steve, Jun has grown to become a skilled roaster responsible for churning out the good stuff you see on our shelves and in our hoppers. You won't find a man more invested in his craft.