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When Gizzy Local started looking around for some buddies towards the end of last year; people who shared our vision for our community, for life out here on the East Coast, and whose business embodied the values we hold dear, we didn’t have to think for long before our sights settled on Jo Pepuere and Steve King, the cracker couple behind Far East Coffee Co.

When Far East Coffee Co. came on the local scene in 2014, they were distinctly mobile, ‘agile’ before their time. Even before their beautiful coffee cart appeared at the Saturday Farmers’ Market, they were delivering their coffee door to door. I was deep in the throes of at-home-mumming at that time and a visit from Jo with our weekly bag o’ beans smelt and sounded nothing short of salvation. The aroma of freshly roasted coffee, a few pearls of motherly wisdom and good dose of fellow-motherly kindness from Jo and my day was always the gentler for it.

Our ability to get freshly-roasted and fairly-traded organic coffee here in Gisborne felt like we suddenly, really qualified for our ‘City’ status – the privilege of having them hand-delivered to your door felt like one of those ‘Only in Gizzy’ micro miracle moments.

Only in Gizzy indeed!  Jo and Steve have created a businessthat is far from the ‘cookie cutter’ mould.  The pair are steadfastly dedicated to doing business as they do life, always mindful of the impacts of their decisions on their staff, family, environment and wider community. They are committed to keeping as much of the ‘coffee dollar’ circulating among Gisborne businesses as they can and Far East was the first official Living Wage employer in Gisborne, and the second coffee roasters to be accredited in the country.  

To those of you who aren’t familiar with the little oasis of calm that is the Far East Roastery down the unmarked driveway amidst the dust and industry of Awapuni Road, the Far East coffee cart at the Farmers Market, the newly-opened Mister Clifton’s in the post office building on Grey Street, or the delights of hand-delivered freshly-roasted coffee to your door, you are in for a treat and some good juju when you do get there. 

All the good vibes make sense when you get to know the humans behind the kaupapa.  Jo and Steve are inspiring human beings in their own right with a whole lot of other cool stuff going on in the rest of their lives alongside all the hard mahi that goes into the Far East Coffee Co. 

Since establishing Far East and in between attending to all of its moving parts, Jo has become a Romiromi practitioner. While the wananga continue, in her quest to keep learning and improving, Jo has a small private practice where she works with and on whaiora – people seeking wellness. She is part of a collective of practitioners called Kahu O Te Rangi who facilitate Romiromi and Mirimiri wananga and practice clinics for people to learn and practice and is also a part of the Moko Turongo collective who hold wananga to support whanau affected by whakamomori – suicide.

It is Jo’s eye that is behind the images of the many views of Gisborne that you find on the @fareast_coffeelovers Instagram page and which make up an ever-evolving art piece on the wall of the Roastery.  Jo’s images, like everything Far East, serve as this whispered reminder in our ears, to breathe, to enjoy the moments we find ourselves in, to appreciate this place we call home. While you usually find Jo with an overflowing cup of ideas and creative and community-minded projects in her hand, her current challenge is for herself, as she prepares to walk the 75 kilometres to Mahia this coming May. 

Steve has an abiding love for the sea and for being on it – from sailing Optimists on the Hamilton Lake when he was a kid, to his latest voyaging adventures immersing himself in the tikanga and the kaupapa of the waka. He now crews on Te Matau a Maui, a 72 foot, double masted Vaka Moana, which is berthed in Ahuriri, in Napier and potters away on the sailing canoe he designed himself.

Steve has spent a good part of the rest of his life making music. If you were one of the 4000 or so people at the first Gathering in 1996, you may well have danced some of your night or day away to Steve’s electronic beats. Steve’s music-making has been as they say, ‘quite a journey’ that began in the late 90’s in rooms choc full of hardware. He released a number of tracks in NZ and Europe, and one might even say the couples’ entrepreneurial roots can be found in the record label they founded together, Breakers Wax. These days Steve is into making minimal techno, which when performed become something to engage with, rather than be entertained by, encouraging a deeply immersive experience similar to meditation with its sparse and mesmerising beats. 

These are the kinds of things you get to know about a person, about a community when you have the opportunity to sit down over a cup of the good stuff and get to know each other. We are grateful and honoured to have Far East Coffee Co come on board as Gizzy Local’s first sponsors, which will enable us to keep gathering the stories, learning about the lives, ideas and inspirations of the diverse community of people who call this place home. 

When it comes to the embodiment, the practice of and support for all good things Local here in Tūranga, Gisborne, we think the Far East Coffee Co. take the cake! Thanks for stepping in Jo and Steve to enable us to take the next few steps towards becoming a sustainable enterprise, which like your own business will be around in years to come. X

* Far East Coffee Co. will be bringing to you all the stories, which relate to sense of place – our home out here in the Far East. Check them out on Instagram @fareast_coffeelovers and link through to their Spotify playlist for a sweet soundtrack to a glorious Gizzy day whenever you need it.

* * If you are interested in exploring partnership/sponsorship options with Gizzy Local, get in touch! hello@gizzylocal.com

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