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Our story started in 2010, as a carpenter (Steve) & environmental scientist (Ali) living in Cairns. We both had good careers and employment opportunities, however, business ownership and being in control of our future was really where we wanted to be. So one day Ali quit her government job and set about looking for business opportunities. For the next 6 months we set about liquidating our "investment" property and anything else we could turn into cash. We knew that banks wouldn't lean us the cash to what we planned so if had to be self-funded. We looked at lots of different business and nearly purchased a stock feed business, before settling on starting our own coffee roasting business. It was a little scary putting literally everything we owned into starting a business model not yet proven in tropics and post the GFC. Ali used to joke that if it all went wrong, at least the bank couldn't take our house, as we didn't own one.
We had a vision to enhance the local coffee culture. We couldn't understand why Cairns didn't have an awesome cafe and coffee culture like other cities. It was one thing we really felt like Cairns was missing. We purchased 1988 LN-series Probat from Echuca, Victoria and imported the Cairns' first La Marazocco from the US; a 4 group FB80 at that. We were planning on being busy, which is quite hilarious, if you know Cairns, because we set up in a small industrial warehouse on Scott Street, a long way from a single tourist or glimpse of the Great Barrier Reef. Nevertheless, we poured our hearts into ever cup & steadily grew a loyal coffee community. Our customers were mainly locals, a lot with businesses of their own and serving them the very best coffee in Cairns was such a pleasure.
A humble warehouse in Bungalow, turned into second larger warehouse in the neighboring suburb of Portsmith. Then the birth of our son Lewis 2013 saw us move to New Zealand for some much-needed family time (Ali is the Kiwi and Steve hails from Terang in Victoria). But we couldn't sit still and took on more cafe and roasting projects in Mapua, New Zealand, while also managing the Cairns-based operations from afar.
New Zealand was great and we earned some more business stripes, but there was a pull back to Cairns, to continue what we started, to roast and serve the very best coffee in Cairns, however, we felt compelled to do more; more for our community, environment & magnificent region. As a result, we re-branded our business at the beginning of 2019 to White Whale Coffee Roasters (formally Industry One Coffee) and have teamed up with Reef Restoration Foundation, to assist them establish more ocean based coral nurseries to help regenerate damaged coral reefs on our Great Barrier Reef.
Roz Pulley from the Cairns Post did the impossible task of putting our first 10 years in business into a concise and methodological article, which was in complete contrast to how is actually happened - you can read her words by clicking here Cairns Post article.
Our promise is to supply specialty coffee, that does good.
Ali, Steve & Lewis | Co-founders