Lion’s is spending another $2 million on its $25.6m foray into coffee with plans to open a roastery in Auckland before winter.

The country’s biggest liquor company bought Havana in 2019, but the Wellington coffee mainstay has outgrown its Tory St roastery in the capital city.

Lion is spending $2m in Auckland’s trendy city-fringe suburb of Parnell to build a roastery, espresso bar and training hub for the coffee brand to launch a charm offensive on the City of Sails’ café scene.

New Zealand country director Craig Baldie said having two locations meant they could “significantly” increase production and appeal to a broader range of customers across more locations.

“Capital investment in a second location was the logical decision,” Baldie said.

Havana has long ties with some of Wellington’s more chic spots, such as Midnight Espresso on Cuba St, Deluxe next door to the Embassy Theatre and Maranui Surf Club in Lyall Bay, and Lion wants to replicate that kind of success in Auckland’s café scene.

Lion general counsel Jono Willis said Havana’s new multi-million-dollar home in Parnell came after “a few false starts”.

“We thought Auckland was a natural place for us to have a second site as it has the largest population base and we see a lot of potential to grow Havana in there,” Willis said.

Willis said Havana roasts “around ten tonnes” of coffee beans per week on average which makes more than 25 million Havana espressos per year.

Building relationships, growing business

Last September, prices for green coffee beans hit a seven-year high and Baldie said supply issues are front of mind for the firm, and can be mitigated by Havana’s long-standing relationship with its farmers in Cuba and Vanuatu.

“We're really lucky that we have such strong relationships that we've been able to maintain throughout the last couple of years,” Baldie said.

Havana’s supermarket bean sales – particularly premium – have grown about 25% in 2021 and Baldie expects they’ll “continue to grow” this year, and the company has aspirations to lift sales by at least 10%.

A canned cold brew is part of that initiative, in what Willis describes as a small but “exploding” market.

“It's big growth off a small base and we think our two cold brews – a long black and a flat white – that we're launching with are going to be market leaders,” Willis said.

“It's really critical for us that we have growth in both cafes and supermarkets,” Willis said.

“We think the supermarket growth will continue to happen organically but it's really important that we maintain growth in cafes as well.”

Lion wants to support Auckland cafe owners, especially those who might be struggling due to covid pressure and lockdowns.

“They had a really tough time and we really want to do what we can to support them as well as we come out of this period,” Willis said.