French coffee house at Pompallier goes local

Pompallier Mission and Printery in Russell is setting out to change the world – one bean at a time.  


Angela and Maria
Angela and Maria with the new blendexpand/collapse

The iconic Bay of Islands tourism destination, which is cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, and is a Tohu Whenua site, has entered into an agreement with Russell-based Tohorā Coffee Co. The company will supply its premium quality coffee beans for use in the French coffee house onsite at Pompallier Mission.  


Having a French coffee house – and being French herself – is a significant part of the site’s manaakitanga according to Pompallier Mission Property Lead Delphine Moise-Elise.  

“When I met with Tohorā I knew we were on the same wavelength,” she says. 

“Not only is their coffee some of the best in the Bay but it is roasted locally. Tohorā offered to brew us a special, very soulful, very French, dark, delicious blend – the ‘Café Pompallier’.”  

Besides being able to provide great quality coffee and support local business, working with a Russell supplier also meant the coffee shop is able to reduce its carbon footprint. Tohorā also shares some of its profits with Project Island Song – another benefit.  

“At Pompallier Mission we are exploring more sustainable and future-saving practices in our everyday mahi. Most importantly we are keen to create opportunities and partnerships with local businesses who are aligned philosophically with us, and who want to give back to the community,” says Delphine.  

Pompallier Mission Café Lead, Maria Garcia, and her colleague Angela Maioha are excited by the new arrangement. 

“It’s a matter of trust. When we met Tohorā co-owner, Kent Thwaites, we realised that we found in him a passionate coffee roaster with great ethics,” says Maria.  

Supporting local suppliers is key to helping our community grow together according to Maria.  

“Unity is strength – especially with the current Covid situation. We need to maintain our local links,” she says.  

The Tohorā Coffee Co. began from humble beginnings in 2015 when Kent Thwaites and his wife Rachel began roasting coffee beans in their garage with a 5kg roasting machine. The couple began supplying the Long Beach Coffee cart, and their business has expanded to servicing 10 cafes and numerous boutique hotels and B’n’Bs in the greater Bay of Islands area.  

An arborist and heritage green space consultant, Kent has a long-standing connection with Pompallier Mission and was previously contracted to revegetate it with native species and nurture the heritage orchard.  

Kent is delighted to be building on his relationship with Pompallier Mission.  

“The opportunity to share a new passion for quality coffee with visitors to the café fits with the kaupapa of Tohorā Coffee Co,” he says. 

“We are based around community connection, reduction of single-use packaging, and the support and enhancement of guest experiences through the mana and heritage of local producers and their stories.” 

Tohorā Coffee Co customers receive their coffee in reusable 8kg tins which get returned and refilled with the next order. The company is also working with their networks on developing a program with the goal of making single use cups a thing of the past in Russell – all part of the company’s ethos of environmental responsibility. 

Tohorā will sell their uniquely French-styled ‘Café Pompallier’ blend developed by Kent and his roasting assistant Mary Te Maru at the Pompallier Mission gift shop.  

“For this blend we use beans sourced from Brazil, Guatemala, Colombia and Papua New Guinea. The coffee will be available in 250g bags as whole beans, French press or espresso grind coffee,” he says.  

“By partnering with us, Pompallier Mission will be serving an authentic and delicious French-style coffee while also supporting local community projects and environment programmes.”

- John O'Hare