Every journey begins with a great cup of coffee

Co-owner of Flight Coffee, Richard Corney, isn’t just serving up Wellingtonians with their daily caffeine fix - he’s making it a sustainable one.

Ranked 39th in our Fast 50 campaign last year, Flight Coffee has seen a 237% increase in revenue over the past three years and their journey doesn’t seem to be about to hit any road blocks anytime soon.

Corney admits that his business is made up of self confessed 'coffee geeks' who believe in progression, curiosity, and sustainable farming. And with their focus on ensuring that every person in the supply chain is remunerated accordingly, Flight Coffee is reaping the rewards both ethically and financially.

We sat down with Richard to explore what components are needed to create a great business… and a great cup of coffee.

Everyone wants to know the secret to making a great cup of coffee – what is it?

Coffee itself is made up of seeds from a cherry - seeds that have gone through many important flavour-developing steps reaching the consumer. Achieving great cup quality in the complex chain that is coffee growing isn’t something that happens by accident; it is very deliberate.

In addition to this, the production leading to great cups of coffee can’t be sustained long-term without improved financial conditions for all members of the supply chain. An important part of this is ensuring the farmers we buy from are remunerated appropriately and relative to the quality that they produce, separate and unrelated to the fluctuating market rate.

What’s your point of difference within the coffee industry here in NZ?

In short, the answer is ‘us’ and the people we work with. Our Mission Statement is ‘To develop excellent people and outstanding coffee’. In our industry these two things are intrinsically linked. We are responsible to people, from those we buy raw material from, staff that work along side us, to customers enjoying the final product. We also aim to create a space where individuals are able to develop and progress, personally and professionally in the coffee industry.

Are you happy with the rate at which your business has been growing?

Yes. We have chosen a growth rate that doesn’t put too much pressure on ourselves so that we can maintain a fun and balanced approach to business. We don’t have investors demanding growth over all other measures of wellbeing, instead equity is held internally and thereby we are free to make more far-reaching choices with regards of where and how to proceed.

What key components do you believe need to be present to run a successful business?

Transparent and effective communication between business partners, a workplace culture that is consistent with your core values, staff who harmonise with those values and a product that is standout from the competition.

In the past year, what’s the smallest change you’ve made that's had the biggest result?

We have had the owners aim to acquire deep expertise in one specific part of our business where we naturally have the most strength and interest. This is a strategy employed parallel with working together on projects.

Where do you see Flight Coffee in ten years’ time?

A multinational team that has adds value and problem-solves across the entire coffee value chain whether that's in farming and production, roasting and brewing or retail experience. Flight Coffee will be recognised as one of the leading names in the global specialty coffee industry.


Follow Flight coffee on their journey by liking them on Facebook or Twitter

Emily is a Senior Advisor in the Deloitte marketing team who knows that behind every great business lies a great story. She loves talking to inspiring people who are thinking outside the box to create a thriving SME sector in New Zealand.