The new year will mark 40 years since Dave Copeland first stood behind a coffee machine.
Those who frequent the New Brighton Farmers Market could not fail to notice, this past
month, new kid on the block Letterbox Roasters. That gorgeous red logo, for a start,
matching the colour of the van from which the coffee is dispensed – and then the old-
fashioned red telephone, Tea, Sugar and Rice canisters, old signage like ‘Fire Exit’.
Forty years would be close to a lifetime in the industry, then, for Dave. He tells me that
when he was a kid his mother had a catering business. At 12 he was waiting on tables; his
‘first café job (was) at 15…which is when I first made the big fluffy 1980’s-style cappuccinos.’
Much has changed since then, as he points out. Back then, pre-You Tube and Google, you
had to work it out for yourself, and it wasn’t until 1999 when Dave had lessons from a world
champion barista that he was shown ‘how to make coffee properly – that was an eye-
Over the years Dave’s run five cafes – most recently, until he sold it in 2015, Lismore’s Bank
Café. Well before that, however, he’d started roasting beans. When he sold the Bank Café,
he purchased a small roaster which came with a load of green beans ‘which I roasted and
gave away to friends and dropped them off in their letterboxes, hence the name.’
For Dave, working at the farmers markets has various pleasures. ‘Being outside, the relaxed
vibe, meeting farmers and swapping coffee for fresh produce, chatting directly to my
customers and hopefully educating them about coffee.’ His advice to those customers? ‘Just
ask for a Magic – you won’t be disappointed!’
Letterbox Roasters are at New Brighton every Tuesday from 8 – 11am

Victoria Cosford