Firsthand People: Al Borrie Firsthand Coffee Founder and Owner
Al is the person behind Firsthand coffee. It is his vision, passion, determination, design aesthetic and commitment to quality that has made Firsthand the Hawke’s Bay institution it has become.
Al was born and raised in Hawke’s Bay, and was a landscape designer by trade. However, while living and working in Auckland an accident put him out of action for a while and he started helping out a friend at his café. He got the coffee and hospitality bug and never looked back. After moving back to Hawke’s Bay Al started roasting in his shed. He opened his first coffee outlet in Clive in a shipping container aptly named Box in 2011. It soon became a beacon of coffee excellence. Crazy Good in Ahuriri followed in 2014 then Cupple in Hastings in 2017. The new roastery in Havelock North alongside Workroom, an attached cafe space, then opened in 2019, finally replacing the original shed. Al has done all the spatial design and fit out, and it is his striped back clean minimal aesthetic that is the Firsthand signature. All sites have a unique and strong local following, which attests to the quality of the coffee and the relationships and community Al and his team, have built.
I asked Al what he loves about Coffee: “Coffee is interesting, its always changing and invites a lot of user interaction. The quality and availability of green beans over the past few years has really progressed the industry. It allows experimentation in roasting and extraction techniques, creating a wide spectrum of flavor profiles.”
Al’s favorite method? “V60 for convenience,” he said. “But a good clean Chemex always goes down well.”
For manual coffee brewing equipment click here