I first noticed the ‘Drive Thru Coffee’ sign a couple of years ago when walking first thing in the morning. It used to be positioned in the forecourt of the old BP service station, which is now a building site. At the time, I was surprised by how popular the little business was with early morning workers, slipping quickly off the main road to grab a coffee before heading on in to the city. Then the business disappeared when the construction looked ready to go ahead. Like a mushroom, it reappeared at the back of the Te Atatu Tavern, which seemed a tucked-away place for the little square coffee hut, and I had misgivings about whether it would have the same success. As I have passed it on my walks, though, I usually see two or three cars waiting in a queue beside it, and my curiosity has been enough to warrant this article. If you are curious about Brewed Awakening too, I hope I cover that in the following questions and answers. If you did not know it existed, I encourage you to give the coffee a try – my own one was superb.
The friendly smiling young lady behind the counter was delighted to talk to me about Brewed Awakening, (despite no early warning), and introduced herself as Rhiannon. Her mother, Raewyn Turnwald, owns the business, but Rhiannon is the barista and manager. During the course of our interview, cars were still arriving (this was 9.30am Thursday) and I drew aside to let them coffee-up. Both times the response to my question, ‘Is it good coffee?’ was an enthusiastic “the Best”. One of the customers said it was the only coffee she buys and she comes down especially to get it during the day.
How long has the business been running?
We’ve been open for just over two years.
What are the opening hours?
Weekdays 5.30am – 1pm
Weekends 7am – 1pm
How many staff are there?
There are two of us working here, and my Mum who is the owner. I manage the business as well. I work five days a week, and Carlos works the other two. We’ve taken him on board in the last six months.
Have you lost or gained customers since the move from main road?
Initially the business died a little bit, but we are totally right back to where we were, so we are really happy.
Now we get people through word of mouth, and we get a LOT of regulars. Weekdays it’s the same group every day, whereas weekends we get families or people driving by that pop in. There’s a really community spirit here, and our business and customers have become more of a family because we get to know everyone – you get to know their cars, their faces – it’s really cool.
How long does it take you from order to delivery?
It depends. Obviously Carlos has just started so he’s a bit slower and it takes time getting up to speed. It takes roughly about a minute per person.
Is it high stress making coffee on the run?
Initially it was. You are under a lot of pressure with people waiting in the queue, and doing a lot of jobs being just one person, it does take a bit of a routine. It’s fine though – after a while you relax, I mean, they are going to wait if it’s good coffee.
I see you do everything from ordering it to making it? I see a courier turns up regularly.
Yes, once a week we have all our orders that arrive. We order on Tuesday and they normally arrive Wednesday/Thursday. We just manage everything as it happens. It’s a ‘GO’ business.
It’s Altura coffee I see – pretty good?
Yes, it is.
Are there any other coffee-on-the-run businesses you know of?
When we first started there were only a couple I knew of. On Waikumete hill there was one, and there was also one in Whenuapai, and because my partner is in the military, I came across that one quite often. Initially it was really quiet (in the drive-through coffee scene) but now we are just seeing them pop up everywhere. So it’s becoming a really thriving business area. We are not franchised or anything. There’s one called ‘Bean and Gone,’ which is a franchise. Some cafes have a drive through – like ‘Kreem’ on Rosebank Road.
What was your previous experience – did you work in a café before?
My first job was working at Servo (on Old Te Atatu Road corner). We live on Old Te Atatu Road, so it was nice and close. I just love working with people – ideally, I want to get into retail. What I want to do is get into fashion, so this is just saving for me at the moment, and helping Mum out as well. It’s good.
Are you here to stay?
At this stage, yes. We liaise with Steve, who owns the pub. We hear from him every now and again, and update what’s happening. As far as we know, we’re here to stay.