Our Story


Our story began in 2010, when Steve (a carpenter) & Ali (an environmental scientist) decided to chase their dreams of business ownership and take control of their own future by leaving secure, high-paying jobs to open a coffee roastery - madness they all said!

The first 6 months saw them liquidate all their assets, selling anything they could turn into cash, knowing that banks wouldn't get behind their crazy idea and roasteries cost a lot to establish.

It was a scary time, being post-GFC, but they were determined to establish the speciality coffee culture of Tropical North QLD. Why didn’t Cairns have an awesome cafe and coffee culture like other cities around the world? There was definitely an opportunity to lead.

The plan came together; a 1988 LN-series Probat trucked Echuca, Victoria; Cairns’ first La Marzocco imported directly from the US (a 4 group FB80 at that) and a small industrial warehouse, far from a single tourist or even a glimpse of the Great Barrier Reef. Nevertheless, we poured our hearts into ever cup & steadily grew a loyal coffee community. Our customers, mostly locals, business owners, tradies and eventually coffee die-hards help us build a specialty coffee community in Cairns and was an absolute pleasure. 

As we grew it was time to expand into a larger facility, our current home in Portsmith, Cairns. And as the White Whale family grew, so did Steve and Ali’s with the birth of son, Lewis in 2013. New beginnings being a theme of this story, the business was rebranded in 2019 to White Whale Coffee Roasters (formally Industry One Coffee) as a nod to a founding principle of the business - to give back. We have now teamed up with the Reef Restoration Foundation, to assist them establish more ocean-based coral nurseries to help regenerate damaged coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef.  

Our passion remains consistent a decade on, to roast and serve the very best coffee in Cairns and to deliver this coffee all over Australia to the awesome speciality coffee community.

Coffee that does good.

Read this awesome feature by SQUARE !
Read a little more here in the Cairns Post.