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Sometimes great works of art are completed in a flash.

"Yesterday" by the Beatles was reportedly captured after McCartney woke up and scribbled down his dream. "Blowin in the Wind” by Bob Dylan was apparently written in 15 minutes.

This was not our experience. Instead, as the old saying goes, "good things take time." It took us more than 8 years to open our roastery doors, and having spent such a long time getting started we would like to take you through our influences and achievements, and the values that we have formed along the way. To do this—and it might sound odd—we would like to introduce the concept of colour grading.

Colour grading is the post-production process in filmmaking of altering the appearance of images. It is a way to elevate picture quality. You can make an everyday image of a cup of coffee look sweet and delicious or plain and dull; turn something average into something extraordinary. It is a kind of artistic expression that you can put on throughout a film that changes it's entire tone, mood and emotion. Importantly, the little decisions that directors make during colour grading can make a piece of art seem drastically different. For many of us, colour grading is the reason we can leave films with that satisfying feeling. We may not love the film we just watched but we can’t deny it has a high production quality.

For Manta Ray, the little decisions we make on the design of the space; including the workflow, hiring, roastery setup, etc. are all a kind of ‘colour grading’. Colour grading the business, if you like… the bar is set up so that you can observe the baristas; the light panels above the bar are tailored to diffuse light in the showroom; the roastery operations are always on display throughout the day and you can hear the machines in action—no soundproofing.

And so, we bring up this concept of colour grading not because we are film geeks but because we would like to use the analogy of directing a movie to describe our process of creating this roastery.

Just as it can take years and years for a director to produce a single film, Manta Ray has taken many years to open its doors. The last 8 years have been spent learning how to roast and an earlier 8 years were spent running cafes and in hospitality. We continue to be forever thankful to the crew at Code Black for much of the knowledge in coffee that we have gained over this time. It was our years of experience spent in the back of their roastery production line—loading batch after batch—that helped us reflect on whether coffee roasting was what we wanted to do; how we could improve in a personal and professional way if we really wanted to do it; and taught us how to stay hungry and humble to keep improving. Code Black Coffee Roasters will always be beloved and admired by us. Thanks, guys!

The years spent roasting reached a tipping point at the ECRE Roaster Smackdown of 2019. We take this roasting competition very seriously. It has a format that we believe in. Here’s a brief rundown:
- All competitors are given the chance to roast the same coffee twice; and
- All competition coffees are cupped (blindly) by both a large pool of public judges (95) and a pool of professional judges (7).
This format not only gives roasters a chance to properly prove their understanding of the coffee through their second roast but also, because it is a blind cupping that is open to both the public and professionals, the resulting scores are truly unbiased. Even the competing roasters may well vote for a competitor’s cup!

We took 1st place in both the professional and public judging categories.

We think of this accomplishment as a moment in time where we were able to prove to the community—and also to ourselves—that our way of roasting is ‘different’.
We strive to show you this each day in every cup that we brew and with each bag of beans that we sell. Apart from the roasted beans, it is also our green bean processes that enable us to reach a higher quality of coffee.

As daggy as it might sound, this coffee roastery is a life goal for us. It is a dream.

We have taken great care and time to cast the right people, or actors, for our team because we know that they add to the overall quality and experience of our company—the colour grading. We make the extra effort to colour-sort our roasted beans. One of our favourite catchphrases in the roastery is, “the devil’s in the details.” We see this value in the structure of our setting and let this inform the actions we take whilst we are sourcing, roasting and serving coffee because we believe that all of these little details, once we add them together, creates something special. It creates a culture that brings us together. They are all effects that are experienced when a person meets us and our product.

Is this all a bit pretentious? Maybe. But perhaps it’s okay to be pretentious about certain things. As long as the coffee really is very good; as long as you are continuing to try to improve the coffee and customer experience each day; so long as you don't judge the customer, or anyone, if they aren't buying into this idea of filmmaking and coffee and artistic expression; and as long as when we are asked questions about coffee we share our knowledge and share it freely.

As long as you don't make someone feel small when they say that they don't ‘get’ what all of this coffee stuff is about.

We all have the experience of getting home and just wanting to watch a movie. Not the fancy movie that the critics are all raving about. Just something beautiful and interesting and entertaining. Something satisfying.

These are the details that we like to focus on, but anyway, you get the picture…

Thank you for reading this long and winding introduction about who we are. We want to prove to you that something about us is ‘different’. Our coffee and attitude towards coffee is special, and we plan to start proving this with each cup that we serve you—whoever you are—near or far. 

Single Origin Filter

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Single Origin Espresso coffee pouches with subscription options.

Top Shelf

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Blends coffee pouches with subscription options.


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