Hamish studied Adventure Education, majoring in Alpine and Rock. The subject material was heavily sustainability based – “That’s when I got very interested in organic and fair trade,” Hamish says. He didn’t know it yet, but those experiences were laying the foundations for the idea of a roastery that uses only thoughtfully sourced coffee beans from ethical growers.
The course involved a lot of business management, leadership, teaching, accounting and marketing study, which Hamish thought he’d never really need. As it turns out, he’s gotten pretty good use out of all that, and hasn’t had to use the outdoors stuff much.
Over the years, Hamish gained a huge amount of experience working for other coffee companies in roles ranging from barista to roaster. “I didn’t choose hospo, but while I was looking for a career I worked hospo my whole life,” he says. Then one day he realised he didn’t want to leave hospo, or coffee, behind.
So after a big career conversation with his wife, Hamish bought a roaster online. “I didn’t want to say ‘what if’. So I gave myself a five-year timeframe and pretty much never looked back.”
After a brief stressful period wondering if the machine he paid for would ever turn up, the roaster arrived and Switch Espresso was born in New Brighton. “Part of my journey was I was really naïve,” Hamish says. “Knowing now how the industry is, I wouldn’t have given it a chance. Naïveté was part of my success.”
Luckily, Hamish has always been a bit of a people person, and he managed to build a fantastic team around Switch (yeah, we’re a bit biased), set the right attitude and nourish a great culture.
It turned out he was also really good at creating spaces, and Hamish’s eye is behind much of what you’ll see and experience at Black Betty Café, Bunsen, and Industrie Espresso Bar. They all aim to be spaces where people can come and feel comfortable with a sweet layout, lighting, texture and décor, where you can be entertained just by looking. Places where you can happily sit by yourself or meet a friend for coffee.
Hamish’s dream is to make Switch Espresso the absolute best it can be and serve up consistently incredible coffee while working with awesome partner cafés. “I don’t want to take over the world or even the North Island. I want to be with great people, great coffee and great equipment.” – Amen to that.