Andy Budd and Kush Coffee


A Man with a Passion

Andy Budd wears a genuine Panama hat, which he imported from Ecuador. He doesn't believe in substitutes for the real thing. He is a man with passion; you only have to look at the photo of him in a bath full of coffee beans to see that!

Travel and coffee both run rich in the veins of this Nelson coffee roaster. At the age of seven Andy was introduced to this rich smelling brew by his mother; on asking if he could drink coffee, his mother replied yes... but first he had to learn to make it properly for her. We were not talking instant, but real coffee, from beans not granules. From then on, the passion was kindled with many family trips to Europe during which he drank a lot of good coffee, and his mother dragged him to the top of a lot of cathedral towers! He remembers the climbs with less fondness, but was not discouraged from further adventures.

Andy Budd and his coffee roaster. Image supplied by author
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It was while traveling through Southern Europe with his son in 2003 that Andy made a decision to bring great coffee to New Zealand. His enlightenment came by way of a scowling Italian barista, who slammed and muttered his way to serving Andy the best cup of coffee he had ever tasted. I can do this he thought, I can be a grumpy old man and serve great coffee, and with a lot more finesse. From this flash of inspiration, an empire was created.

Kush's coffee roaster. Image supplied by author
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On return to New Zealand Andy wasted no time in getting his show on the road. He bought the cheapest café in the Nelson region, which he found at Craft Habitat in Richmond; sourced the best quality beans by researching Australia's prizewinning coffees, and Kush was born.

Two years later in 2006, Andy was offered the chance to lease a property in Nelson and Kush moved to the Metropolis. The new premises consisted of a small shop in Bridge Street, Nelson, tiny, but pure Kush. The followers grew and the crowds gathered, it was very rare that you would pass by and not see at least one patron sitting at the outside bar, enjoying his daily fix.

It soon became obvious that Kush had outgrown this tiny property and Andy spent a couple of years looking for more suitable premises. The perfect place presented itself when a café in Church Street closed. Andy moved his huge and beautiful steampunk coffee roaster to the new place, and fitted it out with retro decor and locally handcrafted furniture, old and new. With the palatial new premises everything else grew to fit, the staff, the production and the turnover. A bit of a shock to the system, but then this is all par for the course for a man who drinks six triple shots a day.

In its latest reincarnation, Kush serves delicious food, including lunches and breakfasts (Sunday mornings are very popular), a heap more coffee, and has a bar license. Since the move in 2009 Kush has increased turnover six fold.... and is one of the busiest meeting places in town. It is wonderful to call in, knowing you will get a perfectly made dry cappuccino, with real grated chocolate and cinnamon, you can chill out on the squishy lazy sofas and catch up on your Wild Tomato reading, or grab the latest newspapers. And that cappuccino is perfect indeed.... I am transported to higher places without climbing any cathedral towers, as the rich dark chocolate melts into cinnamon spiced foam, perfected for me by barista Ben.

The coffee comes with personality. The cafe's blackboard. Image supplied by author
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From the beginning Andy has had very high standards for Kush. From the bean to the cup, there are a thousand steps to the perfect brew he tells me. I guess it's a bit like playing a musical instrument really well, being in tune and at one with it. Nelson has a lot of baristas, but not all are equal; can just anyone make good coffee with training? Apparently not;  "It's a hands on process that cannot be automated, it's like you feel the perfect coffee, it is in your blood..."

His staff would agree. Kush baristas achieve and continually surpass Andy's highest standards. He cannot praise his team highly enough.

The coffee. Image supplied by author.
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Andy is a great storyteller and he knows his subject. During recent visits to Kush, I have learned how coffee takes an hour to give you the desired rush, how men and women drink coffee for opposite reasons and what makes ‘Over the Moon', his highest priced blend. We munched freshly roasted beans as Andy demonstrated the difference between a hard, lesser quality bean, and a more delicate example. Andy talked about the importance of growing in the shade and of making sure the coffee is both fairly traded and organic. Coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world, and Kush has no desire to poison their coffee loving public. This led to a conversation about how wonderful it would be if Andy could go and source his coffee in person, get to know the farmers, to have happy healthy people producing beautiful Kush coffee beans for the people at the top of New Zealand's South island.

When you buy your coffee from a man who imports his genuine Panama hats from Ecuador, you know you will be getting something good. Why? Because he is a man who cares, cares about quality, cares about traditions, cares about the welfare of workers around the globe. Most of all he cares about bringing us the best coffee experience possible

Andy has to start his day with tea, but he then goes on to drink an average of six triple coffees in a day. Six triple shots is a lot of coffee, so in light of his wonderful brew, I mentioned the quality over quantity argument; "Why not have both" is his answer!

At Kush coffee you can... but maybe six triples is excessive, if you value your sleep.

This article was submitted as part of a Nelson Marlborough Insititute of Technology Creative Writing assignment, 2013.

Updated May 2020

Sources used in this story

  •  Interviews with Andy Budd, March 8 2013

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